Acropolis, Athens, Greece
On Sept. 5, 2006, the New7Wonders World Tour launched in Athens. At the international press conference at the Royal Olympic Hotel, the host city for the Official Declaration of the New 7 Wonders of the World – Lisbon, Portugal – was announced. All eyes will be on Lisbon on Saturday, July 7, 2007 as the winners are unveiled!
The New7Wonders hot-air balloon flew its maiden flight over the Acropolis at dawn on Wed., Sept. 6 – a truly majestic morning!
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
A magnificent sunrise saw our hot-air balloon rise right next to the Hagia Sophia, with a large group of television cameras and photographers watching.
At 4 pm, Bernard Weber handed over the certificate of candidacy to Prof. Haluk Dursun, President of the Hagia Sophia Museum, and Prof. Ortayli Ilber, President of Topkapi Palace, in front of the monument.
The Kremlin and St. Basil’s, Moscow, Russia
Aleksey Levykin, Vice-Director of Scientific Research, received the certificate of candidacy from Bernard Weber. Mr. Levykin accepted it for the State Historical and Cultural Museum-Preserve “The Moscow Kremlin” and its General Director Elena Yu. Gagarina, daughter of Russian icon Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space.
To our great surprise, we were greeted by a most friendly, young Russian immigrations officer and went through immigration in only 10 minutes. Even the luggage was already on the belt by the time we got there … with one exception—one of my bags was missing! Maybe it had gotten lost in the jam of hundreds of suitcases, duffel bags and other luggage turning on a far-too-small belt and falling off on both sides? Will I ever see my bag again? Surprise, surprise: The next evening, it arrives, sealed and in good shape at our majestic (with the grandeur of the ‘50s communist architecture—which, looking at it today, reminds us more of tiered or layered white wedding cakes) Ukraina Hotel! Along with a number of important buildings here, such as the Moscow University and the Russian Foreign Ministry, it is one out of the 7(how befitting!!) imperial communist wedding-cake-like buildings of Moscow.)
Our driver, from the Bulgarian embassy, had an ancient but very reliable Lada, and we would soon find out how helpful our Bulgarian friends in Moscow would end up being!
In any case, in their own way, things seem to work here.
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The New7Wonders airship stopped rush-hour traffic in Rome as it soared over the Colosseum with blue skies as a backdrop. The majestic royal-blue aircraft stood out vividly, proudly bearing the New7Wonders logo, as well as the World Tour and our World Tour sponsors’ logos.
In the afternoon, Bernard Weber handed the official candidacy certificate to Dottoressa Irene Iacopi, Director of the Colosseum, on the terrace outside her splendid offices right in the middle of the Roman Forum and with a view of the Colosseum.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany
The New7Wonders World Tour visited Neuschwanstein Castle this afternoon, with the huge airship flying around the castle numerous times. Luckily, the weather stayed dry, with clouds lending the scene an autumnal feeling. Many tourists from all over the world were thrilled to first hear and then see the airship in the sky, bright against the muted Alpine background.
The hour-long ceremony opened with moving, sonoric alphorn music echoing in Neuschwanstein’s grand courtyard. After a celebratory and rousing Bavarian brass segment, the President of the Bavarian Administration of State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes, Egfried Hanfstaengl received the certificate of candidacy from Bernard Weber.
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
The New7Wonders team visited the Eiffel Tower aglow in sunshine. ZDF German television caught up with the World Tour in Paris to speak with Bernard Weber and get our update on the stops to date. The N7W crew admired the breathtaking view of Paris from the second level under the watchful eyes of the camera. One can see the small Statue of Liberty nearby, a copy of the one in New York Harbor which will mark the end of the World Tour in March 2007.
The certificate of candidacy was presented to Jean-Bernard Bros, Deputy Mayor of Paris and the President of the Society for the Exploitation of the Eiffel Tower by Bernard Weber, in front of the golden bust of Gustave Eiffel at the northern foot of the tower. The engineering genius would surely marvel at the possibility of his tower, originally built to stand for 20 years, becoming one of the New 7 Wonders of the World more than a century after he constructed it!
Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom
Alhambra, Granada, Spain
Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China in Badaling, outside of Beijing, the New7Wonders World Tour experienced a true Chinese cultural extravaganza. Some 1,000 folk artists – brightly dressed Chinese lion dancers and Yangko dancers, drummers and traditional musicians – presented a fascinating hour-long program in the courtyard at Badaling and along the Duokou and Nv’er sections of the Great Wall.
The official ceremony preceded the folk perfomances, under a cloudless blue sky and with bright sunshine. After speeches by Bernard Weber, Mr. Dong Yaohui, Standing Vice-Chairman of the China Great Wall Society and Mr. Wang Weidong, Deputy Director of the Beijing Badaling Special Zone Administrative Center, Mr. Wang then received the official certificate of candidacy from Mr. Weber. The many journalists and perfomers mixed with hundreds of tourists visiting the wall throughout the morning, all fascinated by the cultural show along the historic fortification.
Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Sydney Opera House, Australia
Sydneysiders and tourists shared in a truly memorable event celebrating the candidacy of the only 20th-century monument in the New7Wonders campaign on a spectacular, sunny morning. The highlights included Bernard Weber handing the N7W certificate to New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma and Dr. Norman Gillespie, CEO of Sydney Opera House (SOH), and performers from “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” a musical based on the cult movie, wearing a glittering SOH costume.
Hundreds of fans, from early-morning joggers to businesspeople stopping by on their way to work, listened to Aussie music and banter from a live radio program being broadcast from the Forecourt of Sydney Opera House.
The two-part celebration of traditional music and dancing highlighted the long and fascinating history of the temples, palaces and functional buildings from the Khmer Empire, built between the 9th and the 15th centuries. The certificate hand-over ceremony and press conference were held at sunset in front of the Angkor Wat temple. Hundreds of tourists watched from close by. The warm and most enjoyable celebration closed with an almost mystical meditation at sundown, with everyone present falling silent as the sun slipped below the horizon.
In the evening, Mr. Sou Phirin and the APSARA authorities hosted a candlelight dinner for the New7Wonders team. The complex’s most famous structure, Angkor Wat, was lit up for the evening festivities. The last time this had been done was for General Charles de Gaulle, then president of France, when he visited Cambodia. Once again, this intimate dinner ended in an magical, meditative atmosphere.Since the Angkor temple area is extremely large, the New7Wonders team spent two more days filming the numerous temples, such as the Ta Prohm temple which is famed for the gigantic trees that grow on its roof, and the Angkor Tom temple with its many beautiful and mysterious faces.Among the dignitaries present who joined with the New7Wonders World Tour team to celebrate the candidacy were H. E. Ros Borath, H. E. Bun Narith, H. E. Boun Lim Heng, H. E. Tep Henn, H. E. Sous Yara, H. E. Var Chhuda, H.E. Chap Sotharith and Madam Mao Loa.
Taj Mahal, India
The final stop for the World Tour in 2006 and the close of the Asian segment was a lively, worthy tribute to the Taj Mahal, a symbol for love and passion. This symbolism has a particular relevance now, as we approach the end of the year and a period of togetherness and festivities in many parts of the world – in his brief comments in front of the Taj Mahal, Bernard Weber noted that the qualities of love and passion are two much needed in our world today. Love brings us together as a community, while passion gives our lives meaning. The Taj Mahal, breathtakingly beautiful in the afternoon sun, stands majestically as a monument to human emotions.
The certificate of candidacy was handed to Mr. D. K. Burman, who accepted it on behalf of Mr. Kokab Hameed, Uttar Pradesh’s Minister of Tourism. The ceremony at the Taj Mahal featured lovely Indian dancers and was attended by many journalists as well as Indian fans of New7Wonders, some of whom had travelled great distances to be a part of this special celebration.
The World Tour visited the only sub-Saharan African candidate, Timbuktu, as the first of its 2007 stops. Following a reception in the cabinet of the Prime Minister of Mali, Ousmane Issoufi Maiga, in Mali’s capital Bamako, with the Ministers of Culture, Information and Tourism present, the visit to the legendary city in the desert was very celebratory.
Many prominent officials, including the Governor of the region of Timbuktu, the city’s mayor – who received the official certificate of candidacy – and the renowned Three Imams of Timbuktu, attended to congratulate the city and call for votes from all friends of Africa. Thousands of residents also came to celebrate during a jubilant African festival that was staged to commemorate Timbuktu’s candidacy in the city’s main square.
doctorate by the Three Imans, together with the dean of the famous
Sankore Koran and Science University, one of the oldest Universities in
the world.During the press conference, Bernard Weber noted that many people around the world use the name “Timbuktu” to mean a very remote place. Yet the truth is that Timbuktu symbolizes many things that can make Africans proud: bringing together not only the ancient and the modern, but also influences from throughout Africa and beyond Africa. Timbuktu, with its origins at the crossroads of several major ancient trade routes, stands as a monument to tolerance. As the site of one of the world’s first universities and ancient mosques, Timbuktu wants to point Africa and the world toward wisdom and peaceful spiritual values.
To celebrate the rose-red city of Petra’s candidacy, the magnificent buildings carved into the cliffs came alive today as they were 2,000 years ago. A bustling Nabatean marketplace in front of the famous treasury portal was the setting for the handover ceremony. Accompanied by the echo of a flute through the deep, narrow Siq canyon, a camel procession and a galloping Arabian steed announced the arrival of Jordan’s beloved Queen Rania al-Abdullah. Riding on a camel, Bernard Weber approached Her Majesty in the center of the square, dismounted and presented her with the certificate.
In the presence of Jordan’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Mr. Osama Dabbas, and the Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board, Mr. Mazen Homoud, Queen Rania thanked Bernard Weber and noted that, “We Jordanians are proud to be the custodians of the stunning heritage of the Nabatean people.” She continued: “Indeed, we feel that many of our modern Jordanian national characteristics are notably similar to those of the ancient Nabateans.
Like them, we have carved out a special and unique role as a bridge between diverse regions and cultures. And like them, we are a peaceful culture committed to international commerce and dialogue. The magical rose-red city of Petra is like nothing else on earth. It is a remarkable testimony to the human spirit, etched for all time in sandstone and shale.”
After the handover, the crowd, which included close to a hundred international journalists, proceeded down to the ancient amphitheater to watch an impressive Roman legion military demonstration and several thrilling rounds of gladiator battles.
In the morning, before the Nabatean re-enactment, the New7Wonders hot-air balloon rose in the square in front of the treasury. The breathtaking sight of the blue balloon hovering close to the huge pink pillars awed everyone present – it was surely the first time ever that a hot-air balloon was flown in the ancient Nabatean city.
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The New7Wonders team ‘s visit to Egypt honored the Pyramids at Giza, the only remaining monument of the Ancient 7 Wonders of the World.
Before meeting with many members of the Egyptian and international press, Bernard Weber ceremoniously buried the official certificate of candidacy in the sand close to the Pyramids, offering it to the Pharaohs, whose spirits live in these extraordinary structures. As the sole Ancient Wonder still standing, the Pyramids have a unique status among the 21 finalists in the campaign.
Statue of Christ Redeemer, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro welcomed the New7Wonders team with arms as open as those of the Christ Redeemer statue high on the Corcovado mountain above the city. After everyone took the historic Corcovado train up the steep hill through jungle-like vegetation, the ceremony began with a military band playing Brazil’s national anthem, followed by a chorus singing one of the most famous and best-loved local songs about the city.
Easter Island Statues, Chile
Machu Picchu, Peru
The sound of several Inca pututus, instruments made from shell or animal horn, echoed through the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and the surrounding Peruvian Andes as the New7Wonders team made the 19th of 21 stops on the World Tour.
Local children, dressed in colorful traditional costumes, were on hand as Mercedes Araoz, Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, and Machu Picchu Pueblo Mayor Edgar Miranda accepted the official certificate of candidacy from New7Wonders Founder and President Bernard Weber. In return, Bernard received an ornate Inca rod and the keys to the city of Machu PIcchu – an incredible honor.The New7Wonders team marveled at the site’s impressive mix of well-preserved houses, courtyards and terraces sprawled majestically on the side of the incredibly steep mountain. The building techniques of the Incas, combined with their knowledge of astronomy, agriculture and engineering, are a tribute to the sophistication of the society.
Pyramid at Chichén Itzá, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
A rich, exciting day of celebration in Chichen Itzá began with the early-morning flight of the New7Wonders hot-air balloon in front of the “El Castillo” pyramid, probably the most famous structure in the vast Chichen Itzá archeological complex. As the fog lifted, the royal-blue balloon rising in the stillness of the ancient Mayan city sent chills down the spines of the New7Wonders team. A crowded press conference in the afternoon was then followed by a magnificent, exuberant celebration gala of Mayan and Yucatan culture. The official certificate of candidacy was handed to Patricio Patrón Laviada, Governor of the State of Yucatan.
The ceremony featured a moving series of songs in Maya sung by local children in bright traditional clothing, as well as performances by the Traditional Yucalpetén Orchestra and the folkloric ballet troupe of the Yucatan Cultural Institute.
Other speakers during the day’s events included Jorge Torre Loría, Yucatan’s Secretary of Tourism, and the Director of the Yucatan Center of the National Anthropological and Historical Institute (INAH), Federica Sodi Miranda. The celebration continued through dusk, until the majestic buildings of Chichen Itzá were lit up against the dark sky. A festive dinner featuring traditional dancing with fire completed an extraordinary day.
At the crowded press event later in the week in Mexico City, the Director-General of the Mexico Tourism Board, Francisco López Mena, accepted another original New7Wonders certificate for Chichén Itzá from Bernard Weber.
Statue of Liberty, New York City, U.S.A.
For the grand finale of the World Tour, the predictions of good luck that the New7Wonders team was given in Istanbul (see Founder’s Blog) came true for the last time, dramatically and almost miraculously. The sudden patch of decent weather allowed for an incredibly moving close to New7Wonders’ global journey. As children from the William C. McGinnis Middle School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and Public School 193 in Brooklyn, New York braved the winter cold and light snow on Liberty Island, the New7Wonders airship circled the Statue of Liberty. The only object visible in the sky, the bright blue airship – called a blimp in the U.S. – flew majestically several times around Lady Liberty. Bernard Weber handed the certificate of candidacy to Cynthia Garrett, the U.S. National Park Service’s Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.
Early in the morning, students from the Dwight School in Manhattan joined Superintendent Garrett, Living Liberty and the New7Wonders team for some exciting television appearances.