Top Ten Wonders of the Medieval World

Top Ten Wonders of the Medieval World

The ColiseumGreat Wall of China

  1. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey (360 AD)
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    Hagia Sophia, from the Greek for “Holy Wisdom” is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople except between 1204 and 1261, when it was the cathedral of the Latin empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1934, when it was secularized; it was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and to have “changed the history of architecture.” It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 AD on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site. The previous two had both been destroyed by riots. It was designed by Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician. The church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 15 m (49 foot) silver iconostasis. It was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years. It was the church in which Cardinal Humbert in 1054 marched up to the altar and excommunicated Michael I Cerularius, which is commonly considered the start of the Great Schism. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features, such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside, were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans.
    Links: Top Ten Turkish Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia,
  2. The Coliseum, Italy (70-80 AD)
    The ColiseumThe Coliseum3File:Jean-Leon Gerome Pollice Verso.jpgThe Coliseum2
    The Colosseum originally the Flavian Amphitheatre is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian’s reign (81–96). The name “Amphitheatrum Flavium” derives from both Vespasian’s and Titus’s family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia). Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. As well as the gladiatorial games, other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry and a Christian shrine. Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and its breakthrough achievements in earthquake engineering. It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torch lit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.
    Links: Top Ten Italian Attractions, Top Ten Coliseums, Top Ten Arenas/StadiumsTop Ten Gladiators, Top Ten Paintings by Jean-Léon Gérôme,
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colosseum,
  3. Great Wall of China (220-206 BC)
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    The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by the Xiongnu from the north and rebuilt and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century. Since the 5th century BC, several walls have been built that were referred to as the Great Wall. One of the most famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains; the majority of the existing wall was built during the Ming Dynasty. The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has recently concluded that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi). This is made up of 6,259.6 km (3,889.5 mi) of sections of actual wall, 359.7 km (223.5 mi) of trenches and 2,232.5 km (1,387.2 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.
    Links: Top Ten Chinese AttractionsTop Ten Walls, Top Ten Asian Monumentshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Wall_of_China,
  4. Qin Shi Huangdi’s Terra Cotta Army, China (210 BC)
    Qin Shi Huangdi’s Terra Cotta ArmyQin Shi Huangdi’s Terra Cotta Army1Qin Shi Huangdi’s Terra Cotta Army2
    The Terracotta Army is the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang the First Emperor of China. The terracotta figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers near Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. The figures vary in height (183–195 cm, 6 ft–6 ft 5 in), according to their role, the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits. Many archaeologists believe that there are many pits still waiting to be discovered.
    Links: Top Ten Chinese Attractions, Sculptures, Top 100 Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptureshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_cotta_army,
  5. Taj Mahal, India (1632-1653 AD)
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    The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision including Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, Top Ten Mausoleumshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taj_mahal,
  6. Machu Picchu, Peru (1400 AD)

    Machu Picchu (Quechua: Machu Pikchu, “Old Peak,” is a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 km (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas,” it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World. The Incas started building the estate around 1400 AD, but it was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction.
    Links: Top Ten South American Attractions, Top Ten Peruvian Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_Picchu,
  7. Cairo Citadel, Egypt (1176-1183 AD)
    Cairo CitadelCairo Citadel1Cairo Citadel2
    The Saladin Citadel of Cairo is a fortification in Cairo, Egypt. The location, part of the Muqattam Hill near the center of Cairo, was once famous for its fresh breeze and grand views of the city, and was fortified by the Ayyubid ruler Salah al-Din (Saladin) between 1176 and 1183 AD, to protect it from the Crusaders. Only a few years after defeating the Fatimid Caliphate, Saladin set out to build a wall that would surround both Cairo and Fustat. Saladin is recorded as saying, “With a wall I will make the two cities [Cairo and Fustat] into a unique whole, so that one army may defend them both; and I believe it good to encircle them with a single wall from the bank of the Nile to the bank of the Nile.” The Citadel would be the centerpiece of the wall. Built on a promontory beneath the Muqattam Hills, a setting that made it difficult to attack, the efficacy of the Citadel’s location is further demonstrated by the fact that it remained the heart of Egyptian government until the 19th century. The citadel stopped being the seat of government when Egypt’s ruler, Khedive Ismail, moved to his newly built Abdin Palace in the Ismailiya neighborhood in the 1860’s.
    Links: Top Ten Egyptian Attractions, Top Ten Warriors, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Citadel,
  8. Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, Egypt (2nd – 4th Century AD)
    Catacombs of Kom el ShoqafaCatacombs of Kom el Shoqafa2Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa3
    The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, meaning ‘Mound of shards’ or ‘Potsherds,’ is a historical archaeological site located in Alexandria, Egypt. The necropolis consists of a series of Alexandrian tombs, statues and archaeological objects of the Pharaonic funeral cult with Hellenistic and early Imperial Roman influences. Due to the time period, many of the features of the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa merge Roman, Greek and Egyptian cultural points; some statues are Egyptian in style, yet bear Roman clothes and hair style whilst other features share a similar style. A circular staircase, which was often used to transport deceased bodies down the middle of it, leads down into the tombs that were tunneled into the bedrock during the age of the Antonine emperors (2nd century AD). The facility was then used as a burial chamber from the 2nd century to the 4th century, before being rediscovered in 1900 when a donkey accidentally fell into the access shaft. To date, three sarcophagi have been found, along with other human and animal remains which were added later. It is believed that the catacombs were only intended for a single family, but it is unclear why the site was expanded in order to house numerous other individuals. One of the more gruesome features of the catacombs is the so called Hall of Caracalla. According to tradition, this is a mass burial chamber for the humans and animals massacred by order of the Emperor Caracalla.
    Links: Top Ten Egyptian Attractions, Top Ten Tombshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Kom_el_Shoqafa,
  9. Ely Cathedral, England
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    Ely Cathedral, or The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely, is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and the seat of the Bishop of Ely. It is known locally as “the ship of the Fens,” because of its prominent shape that towers above the surrounding flat and watery landscape.
    Links: Top Ten English Attractions, Top Ten Cathedrals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ely_Cathedral,
  10. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy (1173 AD)
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    The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the campanile or freestanding bell tower of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa. It is situated behind the Cathedral and is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) after the Cathedral and the Baptistry. Although intended to stand vertically, the tower began leaning to the southeast soon after the onset of construction in 1173 due to a poorly laid foundation and loose substrate that has allowed the foundation to shift direction. The tower currently leans to the southwest. The height of the tower is 55.86 m (183.27 ft) from the ground on the lowest side and 56.70 m (186.02 ft) on the highest side. The width of the walls at the base is 4.09 m (13.42 ft) and at the top 2.48 m (8.14 ft). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 metric tons. The tower has 296 or 294 steps; the 7th floor has two fewer steps on the north-facing staircase. Prior to restoration work performed between 1990 and 2001, the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees, but the tower now leans at about 3.99 degrees. This means that the top of the tower is 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in) from where it would stand if the tower were perfectly vertical.
    Links: Top Ten Italian Attractions, Top Ten Towers, Top Ten Squares, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaning_Tower_of_Pisa,
  11. Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, China (15th Century AD)
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    The Porcelain Tower (or Porcelain Pagoda) of Nanjing, also known as Bao’ensi (meaning “Temple of Gratitude”; is a historical site located on the south bank of the Yangtze in Nanjing, China. It was a pagoda constructed in the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty, but was mostly destroyed in the 19th century during the course of the Taiping rebellion. The tower is now under reconstruction.
    Links: Top Ten Chinese Attractions, Temples, Top Ten Asian TemplesTop Ten Pagodas, Top Ten Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porcelain_Tower_of_Nanjing,
  12. Cluny Abbey, France (910 AD)
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    Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, department of Saône-et-Loire, France and was built in the Romanesque style. It was founded in 910 by William I, Count of Auvergne, who installed Abbot Berno and placed the abbey under the immediate authority of Pope Sergius III. The abbey and its constellation of dependencies soon came to exemplify the kind of religious life that was at the heart of 11th century piety. The town of Cluny, in the modern department of Saône-et-Loire in the region of Bourgogne, in east-central France, near Mâcon, grew round the former abbey, founded in a forested hunting reserve. The Benedictine order was a keystone to the stability that European society achieved in the 11th century and partly owing to the stricter adherence to a reformed Benedictine rule, Cluny became the acknowledged leader of western monasticism from the later 10th century. A sequence of highly competent abbots of Cluny were statesmen on an international stage. The monastery of Cluny itself became the grandest, most prestigious and best endowed monastic institution in Europe. The height of Cluniac influence was from the second half of the 10th century through the early 12th. The abbey was sacked and mostly destroyed in 1790 during the French Revolution and only a small part of the original remains.
    Links: Top Ten French Attractions, Top Ten Abbeyshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cluny_Abbey,
  13. Links: Monuments and Wonders, Top 100 Monuments, Architecture, Top Ten Wonders of Space, Top Ten Ancient Wonders, Top Ten Modern Wonders, Top Ten Natural Wonders,