The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as confirmed by the Phoenician poet Antipater in the first century AD, included the: Great Pyramid, Walls and Gardens of Babylon, Zeus' statue, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and Colossus of Rhodes. Clearly Antipater created a comprehensive list, even though he had never heard of Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China, and could not have known about the Colosseum.
Life Magazine (Vol 13, 2, June 2013) updated and replaced these ancient wonders, publishing the winning New Seven Wonders of the World candidates and the next 7 runners-up. Based on the votes of 100 million opinions, these 14 winning wonders do not include natural sites that God created, rather than clever human beings (eg Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef). In order of popularity by voters, we need to consider:
1. Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
2. The Great Wall of China
3. Chichen Itza, Mexico
4. Taj Mahal, Agra
5. Petra, Jordan
6. Machu Picchu, Peru
7. Colosseum, Rome
8. Easter Island
9. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
10. Acropolis, Athens
11. Potala Palace, Lhasa
12. Vatican, Rome
13. Terracotta Army, near Xian
14. Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain
Of the Wonders of Today, we need to add:
15. Eiffel Tower, Paris
16. Sydney Opera House
17. Empire State Building, New York
18. Burj Khalifa, Dubai
19. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
20. Channel Tunnel
21. National Stadium, Beijing
In Rio de Janeiro, faithful Catholics had wanted to place a monumental religious statue on top of the very impressive Corcovado Mountain for a long time. In the mid 19th century, Brasil's Princess Isabel would not financially support the project and then it failed again in 1889 when Brasil became a republic, with laws requiring the public separation of church and state.
It is not clear why the next request for a statue was more successful but perhaps the need for world peace was perceived more strongly in 1920. Of course there was a vigorous debate about who would design the work, what the materials should be, who should pay and how Christ should be depicted. In the end, the presentation of Christ carrying his cross was rejected; instead Christ the Redeemer with open arms, a symbol of peace, was agreed upon. The statue was designed by a Brasilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and sculpted by the French sculptor Paul Landowski.
Christ the Redeemer statue
built on Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro
Proclaimed open in October 1931.
The majority of the sculpture was made from reinforced concrete but soapstone was chosen for the outer layers, given soapstone's durability and ease of use. So I was interested to hear how these heavy materials were dragged to the top. Apparently it would have been impossible without the Corcovado Railway, so the railway became an important aide in the project. Construction of the 30 metres tall figure and 8 metres high pedestal took nine years (1922-1931), and was completed almost within budget.
Art Déco was the style chosen by the sculptor, appropriate given that his work was being created in the late 1920s. The statue was presented in the functional, glamorous and modern style, dominated by typical Art Déco characteristics like geometric forms, straight lines and crisp folds in Christ’s clothing.
Although Brasil only joined in the war against Germany and the Axis powers in 1917, the nation's post-war era was difficult, politically and economically. Then the Depression struck Brasil with tragic consequences in 1929 and 1930. Thank goodness the Christ the Redeemer monument was finally available for a very excited nation (and world) to celebrate in October 1931.
In 2003, escalators, walkways and elevators were installed to help the faithful get up to the platform surrounding the statue. Before and since 2003, restoration work has been constantly required. But it has been worth it. Towering 710 metres above Rio and visible from almost any place in the city, Christ the Redeemer is still a powerful representation of Catholicism in Brasil, one of the most Catholic of countries. It must be; 1,800,000 people visit the statue every year!
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