I grew up with Lego, but then again who didn’t. Well, I guess it is hard to picture the Nintendo generation (otherwise known as the Millenials), to have had as much fun as I did when I was a kid, but the fact that we still find the shelves of our toy stores packed with the stuff, dedicated stores, theme parks, and now three movies, then I guess even all these years later it is still pretty popular. So, the question is probably, why, on a blog cataloguing my travels, have I decided to suddenly write a post on Lego?
Well, that’s simple – when we were in Perth, and looking for a way to get out of the city and into Kings Park, we wandered past the Exhibition centre. I thought that there might be a short cut through the centre, but as it turned out, as my Dad once told me, short cuts rarely, if ever, turn out to be short cuts, as was the case here. As we wandered into the centre my brother immediately discovered that there was a Lego exhibition on, and sure enough he began to drop some not too subtle hints that he actually wanted to go and see this exhibition. Well, who am I to say no to my brother, so we put our exploration of Kings Park on hold and instead decided to check out the exhibition.
While the exhibition was called The Lego Wonders of the World, it was much, much more than just the Seven Wonders built out of Lego. In fact the Seven Ancient Wonders only form a small part of the ‘Wonders of the World‘, though they were in fact the first, having been compiled by the Ancient Greek writers Herodotus and Callimacus of Cyrene (though these writings have not survived). While these were the original structures, there has since been new lists being developed, including the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, and the Seven Wonders of the Solar System. A list can be found on Wikipedia (where else).
However, let us wander into the exhibition, and see what these Lego enthusiasts have built.
The the first display that we saw was the Taj Mahal, which was built in the 17th Century, in India, so it is a little too late to be included on the list of Ancient Wonders. In fact it isn’t even technically a medieval wonder considering that first of all the Medieval period was strictly a European time period, and secondly it was also built too late for that period anyway.
The Taj Mahal is the tomb of a Muslim princess and was initially commission in 1634 by the Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife. While it was ‘officially’ completed in 1643, work continued on the structure for another ten years. Considering that some of the Cathedrals in Europe took hundreds of years to build (and the Sarigia Familia is still being built, despite it being started in the late 19th century), this is pretty impressive.
However it does appear on the list of the New7Wonders of the world, as does the next one:
Built between 1922 and 1931 this statue has pretty much become a cultural icon both of Rio de Janero and Brazil. It is one of this iconic structures that movies use to indicate where the action has shifted to (much like the Eiffel Tower in France and Big Ben in London, though London also has the Bridge). It has been suggested that it is also a symbol of Christianity, and in a sense Latin America is still an incredibly religious part of the world. Here we have a statue of the founder of Christianity, with his arms outstretched representing this purpose on Earth, standing above one of the biggest cities in Latin America, as a reminder to all.
There is a good chance that this one, the Great Barrier Reef, won’t actually be a wonder for much longer due to it slowly dying because of bleaching and the acidification of the oceans. At one time it was considered to be the largest living creature on the Earth (and I believe it still is) but it is slowly dying due to the fact that the mining industry pretty much trumps the tourism industry. The problem is that while mining might bring in the big bucks in the short term, once the mines have dried up and it is all gone, well, that is basically it. Tourism on the other hand is a constant money spinner, but once the reef has gone, well, so has any reason for tourists to come here.
At least we still have a rock in the middle of the Desert.
I’m not entirely sure why the temple of Artemis made it onto the list, while the Parthenon didn’t. Maybe it had something to do with the original list was compiled prior to the Parthenon was built, though some of the compilers did live afterwards. Anyway, this is first of the original seven wonders that I saw at the expo, and is, or should I say was, located in Ephesus. Well, along with the temple, the city of Ephesus no longer exists either (though you can still see the ruins, including the remains of the Library of Celsus).
The second of the original Ancient Wonders is the Colossus of Rhodes, which stood at the entrance to the harbour and is a statue of the Greek God Helios. It was built in around 280 BC and was erected to celebrate the city’s victory over the besieging Cypriots. The statue stood about as high as the statue of Liberty stands today, and at the time was the tallest statue in the world. However, it didn’t last all that long because it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC. The other thing is that nobody actually knows what it looks like, but has fueled a lot of imagination over the centuries.
Like the rest of the Ancient Wonders, that Statue of Zeus at Olympus has also been lost, and our understanding of what it looked like can only be discerned from the writings of people at the time. However, it did last a little longer than many of the other wonders, having been destroyed in the 6th Century AD. Okay, the Pyramids have managed to survived, but they were pretty sturdy, and are probably closer to being a man made mountain than anything else (particularly since they would have had to have put up with centuries of sandstorms).
Since I’m talking about the Pyramids, here they are:
Well, there probably isn’t all that much that I can say about the Great Pyramid of Giza that is not common knowledge. No, I’m not going to carry on about how they were built by aliens because that is just rubbish tossed around by people who simply could not understand how somebody was able to build something of this magnitude.
The Hanging Gardens are probably the only of the Ancient Wonders that there is no evidence that they actually existed. A Babylonian priest around 200 BC claimed that the gardens were constructed during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and destroyed when the city was sacked by the Persians, however there is no contemporary source claiming that these gardens existed. Yet they have made it onto the list, one of only two non-Greek entries, and probably the only entry that exists in the realm of mythology.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was the last of the six destroyed wonders to be destroyed, having finally collapsed between the 12th and 14th Century. The Mausoleum was a tomb of the Persian Satrap Mausolus, and was built during the 4th Century. It was from the name of the Satrap that the term has since come down to us to refer to as an above ground tomb. Notice how a number of these wonders are in fact tombs, structures designed to help us remember the dead.
After the Mausoleum (and the Pyramids) the Lighthouse was the second longest lasting of the destroyed wonders, so while it was finally finished off in 1480, due to it being built 100 years after the Mausoleum means that it falls slightly under the age of the former. The lighthouse, during its operation, was one of the tallest structures in the world, and stood at the entrance to the harbour of Alexandria. However, like a number of other wonders, earthquakes finally got the better of it.
Well, since there were only seven ancient wonders to built, it looks like the artists decided to branch out a bit and to explore other possibilities, such as the wooden horse of Troy. I’m not sure whether you can actually call this a wonder of the world, and there is probably a dispute as to whether it actually existed or not, but it is probably one of those stories that we all happen to know about, at least those of us who grew up in the west. As they say, beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
This is Burg Eltz, a castle located in Wierschen Germany. Castle is the home of the Eltz family, and construction first started in 1157 when the Holy Roman Emperor issued a deed to the Eltz family for the land. The castle was then built over the next 800 years, not so much as a single building but rather a a building that kept on having things added to it over time as the Eltz family grew. In a way it was probably one of those places that was never truly completed.
The Concord, a supersonic plane that I grew up hearing about, but never having the opportunity to fly on it. I believe one did make it to Australia once, but other than the Air France plane that exploded as it took off from Charles de Gaule airport the main reason that the concord was eventually scrapped was not because it was too dangerous, but because it was ridiculously expensive to upkeep. In fact, if you wanted to fly in the concord you would be paying as much as you would be paying for a first class ticket, and in reality nobody, not even the ridiculously rich, actually fly first class since you get just as a good service, and comforts, in business class.
Sometimes I wonder why they picked some of the structures they did because the Leaning Tower isn’t so much a wonder, but a mistake. Sure, it is one of the iconic symbols that people generally recognise everywhere, and when you actually go there you see all these people doing silly things around it, like pretending to hold it up, or what not. However, the thing with the tower was that the foundations weren’t set properly when it was built, and it tilted, but not so much that it fell over. In the end they decided to finish it off, though I suspect not with the intention of turning it into a tourist attraction.
Once again, I’m not sure why they picked the Titanic as a wonder, even if you created a Seven Wonders of the Technological World – it still wouldn’t be eligible considering the thing sunk on it’s maiden voyage. Sure, you could claim that it was the most sophisticated ship of its time, and despite people claiming that it was unsinkable, the fact that it did sink make the engineers look like a bunch of fools. However, the sculpture does look pretty cool.
The Great Wall of China is also one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and one of the reasons for this was because the people who compiled the original list were Greeks, so only those objects that existed in the Greco-Roman world were included in the list (with the addition of the Gardens and the Pyramids). However, the Great Wall is pretty much on the other side of the world, and would have been unknown at the time. Actually, the wall that we know of today dates only as far back as the Ming Dynasty (though the original wall goes as far back as the 7th Century BC).
There are a lot of things that make England, England, and Stonehenge is just one of them. Mind you, Stonehenge is a must visit for anybody that happens to travel to England, though ironically those who happen to live in England are probably the ones who are more likely to have not seen it. However, it’s legacy is much, much bigger than its actually size, and when you see it for the first time your response is almost ‘gee, it’s not that big, is it’.
Probably the iconic structure of the United States, the Statue of Liberty was the first thing many new arrivals to America would see after the journey across the Atlantic. Mind you, with the cost of air travel plummeting, the only time people travel by boat is for a nice and relaxing holiday (not that it would be something that I’d be particularly interesting in doing, except to get to Tristan da Cunha), this is no longer the case. The statue itself was originally constructed in France and given to the United States as a gift, and when you wander around Paris you will encounter a couple of smaller ones there (there is one in the d’Orsay, and one in the Jardin du Luxembourg).
I’m not sure if I’m the only person who thought that this building was the Kremlin, namely because it is located on Red Square. However, it isn’t but rather it is a church, or at least was a church since it is now a museum. The building, named the Cathedral of St Basil, was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1555 to 1561 to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakahn. It was, for a time, the tallest building in Moscow, until it was dwarfed by the Ivan the Terrible Bell Tower.
In reality, this could be any number of Cathedrals in and around France (and other places), but I suspect we all know what this church is, or at least the frontage (since that is all they built – maybe they ran out of grey bricks). Anyway, it is the Notre Dame de Paris, namely because the little sign next to it said that it was, and we generally have to go with what the sign says (unless you are truly Post Modernist and only go with what you believe is true, because that is all that counts).
Probably nowhere near as famous as the others, but the city in which it is located certainly is. In fact it gets so many visitors a year that the city literally is bursting at capacity. This, of course, is St Mark’s Square in Venice, and when I was last there it was covered in pigeons. This was another problem the Venetian council faced, and that was tourists feeding the pigeons, namely because they have a habit of pooing everywhere, and they more you feed them the more they poo. So, not only was there a problem of Venice sinking, it looked like it would be in danger of sinking under the weight of all the pigeon poo in St Mark’s Square.
I’m not entirely sure whether Mount Rushmore can be considered a wonder of the world, though I’m sure it is quite admired in the United States, especially considering it does portray some truly great men – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The problem is getting there, particularly since once you have seen it you realise that you are basically stuck in the middle of Dakota.
The Faberge Eggs are probably one of the most intricate, and well known, pieces of jewelery in the world. The ones pictured are the Coronation egg, which is probably the most famous, the rosebuds, and the Napoleonic egg (I believe). The eggs were made by the House of Faberge, a jeweler in St Petersburg, Russia. Not all of the eggs survive though.
Anyway, it seems as if I have gone way, way over what I originally would have intended to write, so I guess I’ll bring it to an end with one of the engineering wonders, the Golden Gate Bridge, which was the longest suspension bridge between 1931 to 1967 (now I believe the longest suspension bridge is in China). And finally, one of my favourite monuments that I have seen, and that is the Arc de Triumph, which is actually the French National War memorial.
If you are interested in checking out some more photos I have set up a Flickr account so that I’m not gobbling up all of my limited space. You can view the album for this post here.