Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Chichén Itzá, the most famous
Mayan temple city, served as the political and economic center of the Mayan
civilization. Its various structures - the pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple
of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, and the Playing Field of the
Prisoners – can still be seen today and are demonstrative of an
extraordinary commitment to architectural space and composition. The pyramid
itself was the last, and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples.
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Christ Redeemer, Brazil
This statue of Jesus stands some 38 meters tall,
atop the Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro. Designed by
Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created by French sculptor Paul
Landowski, it is one of the world’s best-known monuments. The statue took
five years to construct and was inaugurated on October 12, 1931. It has
become a symbol of the city and of the warmth of the Brazilian people, who
receive visitors with open arms.
The Great Wall, China
The Great Wall of China was built to link
existing fortifications into a united defense system and better keep
invading Mongol tribes out of China. It is the largest man-made monument
ever to have been built and it is disputed that it is the only one visible
from space. Many thousands of people must have given their lives to build
this colossal construction.
Machu Picchu, Peru
the 15th century, the Incan Emperor Pachacútec built a city in the clouds on
the mountain known as Machu Picchu ("old mountain"). This extraordinary
settlement lies halfway up the Andes Plateau, deep in the Amazon jungle and
above the Urubamba River. It was probably abandoned by the Incas because of
a smallpox outbreak and, after the Spanish defeated the Incan Empire, the
city remained 'lost' for over three centuries. It was rediscovered by Hiram
Bingham in 1911.
On the edge
of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabataean
empire of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of water technology,
the Nabataeans provided their city with great tunnel constructions and water
chambers. A theater, modelled on Greek-Roman prototypes, had space for an
audience of 4,000. Today, the Palace Tombs of Petra, with the 42-meter-high
Hellenistic temple facade on the El-Deir Monastery, are impressive examples
of Middle Eastern culture.
The Roman Colloseum, Italy
This great amphitheater in the centre of Rome
was built to give favors to successful legionnaires and to celebrate the
glory of the Roman Empire. Its design concept still stands to this very day,
and virtually every modern sports stadium some 2,000 years later still bears
the irresistible imprint of the Colosseum's original design. Today, through
films and history books, we are even more aware of the cruel fights and
games that took place in this arena, all for the joy of the spectators.
The Taj Mahal, India
This immense mausoleum was built on the orders
of Shah Jahan, the fifth Muslim Mogul emperor, to honor the memory of his
beloved late wife. Built out of white marble and standing in formally
laid-out walled gardens, the Taj Mahal is regarded as the most perfect jewel
of Muslim art in India. The emperor was consequently jailed and, it is said,
could then only see the Taj Mahal out of his small cell window.
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