The Taj Mahal in Agra, India was commissioned in 1631 by the fifth Muslim Mogul Emperor, Shah Jahan to honour the memory of his beloved wife who tragically died aged 36, giving birth to her 14th child. The white domed marble mausoleum is considered the finest example of Muslim architecture in India and 2008 celebrates the 360th Anniversary of the completion of the Taj Mahal complex.
Christ Redeemer, the statue that stands 39.6 metres tall upon the Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro, has become an icon of Brazil and represents the warmth of the Brazilian people who receive visitors – as does the statue – with open arms. Christ Redeemer took five years to construct and was inaugurated in October 1931.
The Great Wall of China was built around 220 B.C. by the army of First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi of the Qin Dynasty who was the first man to rule a unified China. The wall was constructed as a defence system to keep out the invading Mongol tribes and although few of the original fortifications remain today, the wall holds the record as the largest man-made monument ever built.
Chichén Itzá in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico is the most famous Mayan temple city. Built before 800 A.D., the extensive site served as the political and economic centre of the Mayan civilisation. A large stepped pyramid called El Castillo dominates the site and although this temple was the last to be built, it is by far the greatest.
The Roman Colosseum celebrates the glory of the Roman Empire. Constructed in Rome, Italy between 70-82 A.D. its elliptical design with tiers of seats provided a colossal arena for crowds to enjoy the cruel fights and games of Roman tradition. It is quite remarkable that some 2,000 years on, most modern sports stadiums still bear the imprint of the great amphitheatre’s original design.
Petra in Jordan was the splendid capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV who ruled from 9 B.C-40 A.D. The complex of monuments are cut into the rock face some 914 metres above sea level and the most elaborate of the ruins is Al Khazneh known as ‘The Treasury.’
Machu Picchu – The Old Peak – lies halfway up the Andes Plateau in Peru. This mysterious settlement is thought to have been built in the 15th century by Incan Emperor Pachacútec but abandoned during a smallpox outbreak and subsequently ‘lost’ for over three centuries. It was not until 1911 that Machu Picchu was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham.