Outside editorial: Updated 'Seven Wonders' list whets the appetite for travel

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Seven Wonders of the World are new and improved. Even though nothing from the United States made the list, it's great. Even the runners-up are wonderful.

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On July 7, the New Open World Foundation announced the completion of a world poll to name the "New Seven Wonders of the World." New Open World is an outfit founded by entrepreneur Bernard Weber, a Swiss-born Canadian with a gift for global PR.

The famous old list dates from at least 140 B.C., when Antipater of Sidon wrote down the architectural wonders most worth seeing. The names - the Lighthouse at Alexandria; the Great Pyramids of Giza; the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the Temple of Zeus at Olympia; the Colossus of Rhodes; and the controversial (some believe they never existed) Hanging Gardens of Babylon - still ring with excitement and awe, even though only the pyramids are still around.

Know what? Those were good, but these are better. The new list contains the Incan city of Machu Picchu; the Taj Mahal; the Great Wall of China; the Colosseum; the stone city of Petra in Jordan, carved out of desert rock; the Mayan center of Chichen Itza; and the statue of Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. Had these existed in Antipater's time, some of the others wouldn't have made his list.

Such lists are designed to spur controversy. Though no U.S. works made the grade, the Statue of Liberty does appear in a consolation list of 14 "finalists." Poor pyramids, demoted to the second tier. Among the finalists: Stonehenge, the Acropolis, and the Sydney Opera House.

What is the new list good for? For whetting the appetite to see this world of wonders. To see them all would mean traveling to Jordan, Peru, India, Mexico, China, Brazil and Italy. A tour of "finalists" would span the United States, Mali, the United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Australia, Egypt, Germany, Russia, Japan, Turkey, France, Chile and Cambodia.

That would indeed be a wonderful journey.

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