The New7wonders of The World Foundation based in Zurich Switzerland is an organization that has established itself as the stewards of “the 7 wonders of the world’. Its founder Bernard Weber is a renaissance man of Howard Hughes like stature and rank. He speaks five languages, flies planes, and makes films.
So how exactly does it work, and what exactly does the organization do? What gives The New7wonders of The World Foundation their prestige and authority? This is explained on their website:
The Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation was established in 2001 (…) to contribute to the protection of the world’s human-built and natural heritage and to foster respect for our planet’s diversity.
New7Wonders is funded entirely by licensing and commercial partnerships with companies, TV rightsholders, event organizers, and through interactive revenue shares. New7Wonders does not draw any funds from public, government or taxpayer subsidies. In fact, the reverse is the case: through its positive global platform, New7Wonders has so far generated more than US$5 billion worth of economic, tourism and national promotional value for locations participating in its campaigns. New7Wonders is a major, global-scale proof of a business concept based on mass virtual online dynamics creating concrete economic positive outcomes in the real world.
So there you have it. However, are they indeed protecting the world’s human-built heritage? It turns out they are. One of their main projects is the reconstruction of the giant Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan that were erected in the 4th century AD, and that were destroyed by Taliban savages in 2001. So far the organization has financed a 3D model and scale model of the largest statue which stood 55 meters tall. The ultimate goal is to rebuild the statue in its original location.
The voting for the 2014 edition of 7 wonders focuses on the 7 wonders of nature, monuments, and cities. From an initial pool of 28 candidates who have teams that have mounted campaigns to be part of the top 7 cities, there is now a short list of 14 cities. Anyone can vote for their 7 choices online.
These are the 14 cities vying for your vote to become the official New7Wonders cities.
The Spanish city is home to the architectural masterworks of Antoni Gaudi, Lluis Domenech, and many other UNESCO world heritage sites. It is also famous for it’s beaches, parks, and sizzling nightlife.
Although the city has been under siege on more than one occasion during the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s, the Lebanon War of 1982, and during conflicts with Israel, the charm of the city that has been called “the Paris of the Middle East” has remained intact and can not be denied. Beirut has a rich cultural history, and the city bears the influence of the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Ottoman Turks, and the French. It’s famous for its seaside promenades, café culture, and its Bohemian quarter.
In many ways, Chicago is the quintessential metropolis. The first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885. In modern times, the city’s airport- O’hare international- often ranks within the top 5 busiest airports in the world.
Much of Qatar’s oil wealth has manifested itself in stunning ways in the capital city of Doha. For example, the Museum of Islamic Art saw the master of modern architecture I.M Pei convinced to come out of retirement at 91 years of age to design one of the most breathtaking museums on the planet. Inside, the museum houses one of the largest collections of ceramics, textiles, transcripts and other important Islamic artifacts.
The bustling seaside South African city is Africa’s biggest port. It’s famous for it’s Zulu Rickshaw pullers with their colorful dress, and even more colorful personalities.
The Cuban capital that attracts tourists from all over the world who want to see the city famous for its 1950s era automobiles, historic architecture that brings together the various influences of 500 years of colonial rule, and one of the last bastions of socialism is also in the running to be one of the New7Wonders cities.
The three cities on this shortlist of 14 finalists that are considered to be alpha cities according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network are Chicago, Mexico City, and Kaula Lampur. These are cities that, according to the GaWC criteria, “link major economic regions and states into the world economy”. The only cities in Asia that are part of this particular category are Mumbai and Kuala Lampur, the Malaysian capital city that’s home to the Petronas twin towers, the tallest twin towers in the world.
The head of communications at New7Wonders has this to say: “Whether it is innovation or income inequality, or migration or mass transport, some of the most provocative questions of our time are being debated in the context of a changing world in which the majority of humanity lives in cities.”
Regarding mass transport, La Paz, the seat of government in Bolivia, has a new “Teleferico” —a cableway system that gives citizens, residents and tourists alike the ability to “fly” over a city that is renowned for its hectic traffic and urban hustle bustle. It truly is an ingenious solution to the vehicular congestion problem, and a great way to marvel at the Andean city’s unique amalgam of beauty and chaos.
According to the GaWC research network rankings, there are two cities in the world that hold special significance economically and culturally. These two cities are New York and London, and they are denominated as Alpha ++ cities.
The greater Mexico City area boasts 21.2 inhabitants, which makes it the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere, and the largest Spanish speaking city in the world.
If you ever travel to the Mexican Federal District by plane, make sure you get a window seat. Flying over a large city usually involves seeing a cluster of skyscrapers that’s bordered by residential neighborhoods that then gradually taper off into a patchwork of farmland. That’s not the case with Mexico city—it’s all city, city, and more city for as far as the eye can see. It truly is a sight to behold.
The city known for its distinctive Western Australian culture earned the nickname “the city of light” in 1962 when -in an amazing display of urban solidarity- citizens turned on all of their houselights and streetlamps as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead as he was orbiting the earth in the spacecraft Friendship 7.
Along with La Paz, the other Andean city in the running for a spot in the top 7 is Quito, Ecuador. At 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the highest capital city in the world, and it is built on the eastern slope of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano.
The Icelandic capital famous for its colorful row houses and jaw dropping scenery is one of the safest, cleanest, and greenest capital cities in the world.
What makes Vigan unique amongst major urban centers in the Philippines in that the unique fusion of Chinese and Hispanic colonial architecture that dates back to the 16th century has been beautifully preserved.
To select your top 7 cities, all you have to do is go to this link and make your picks.