Showing posts with label Seven Wonders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seven Wonders. Show all posts

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal - A Symbol Of LoveLocated at the city of Agra in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful masterpieces of architecture in the world. Agra, situated about 200 km south of New Delhi, was the Capital of the Mughals (Moguls), the Muslim Emperors who ruled Northern India between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Mughals were the descendents of two of the most skilled warriors in history: the Turks and the Mongols. The Mughal dynasty reached its highest strength and fame during the reign of their early Emperors, Akbar, Jehangir, and Shah Jehan.
It was Shah Jehan who ordered the building of the Taj, in honor of his wife, Arjumand Banu who later became known as Mumtaz Mahal, the Distinguished of the Palace. Mumtaz and Shah Jehan were married in 1612 and, over the next 18 years, had 14 children together. The Empress used to accompany her husband in his military campaigns, and it was in 1630, in Burhanpur, that she gave birth to her last child, for she died in childbirth. So great was the Emperor love to his wife that he ordered the building of the most beautiful mausoleum on Earth for her.
Although it is not known for sure who planned the Taj, the name of an Indian architect of Persian descent, Ustad Ahmad Lahori, has been cited in many sources. As soon as construction began in 1630, masons, craftsmen, sculptors, and calligraphers were summoned from Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and Europe to work on the masterpiece. The site was chosen near the Capital, Agra on the southwest bank of the River Yamuna. The architectural complex is comprised of five main elements: the Darwaza or main gateway, the Bageecha or garden, the Masjid or mosque, the Naqqar Khana or rest house, and the Rauza or the Taj Mahal mausoleum. The actual Tomb is situated inside the Taj.
The unique mughal style combines elements of Persian, Central Asian, and Islamic architecture. Most impressive are the black and white chessboard marble floor, the four tall minarets (40 m high) at the corners of the structure, and the majestic dome in the middle. On closer look, the lettering of the Quran verses around the archways appears to be uniform, regardless of their height. The lettering spacing and density has been customized to give this impression to the beholder. Other illusionary effects have been accounted for in the geometry of the tomb and the tall minarets. The impressive pietra dura artwork includes geometric elements, plants and flowers, mostly common in Islamic architecture. The level of sophistication in artwork becomes obvious when one realizes that a 3 cm decorative element contains more than 50 inlaid gemstones.

The Pharos of Alexandria

The Pharos Of Alexandria
The Pharos of Alexandria (circa 280 BC), located on an island in the harborof Alexandria, Egypt, was a famous ancient lighthouse standing more than 134 m (440ft) tall; it was destroyed in
the 14th century.

The Pharos of Alexandria,in Egypt, was the forerunner of modern lighthouses. The name belonged originallyto an island lying off the coast. When Alexander the Great laid out the city he connectedthe island of Pharos with the mainland by means of a mole, or causeway.

On theeastern point of the island his successors, Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II, erected a greatlighthouse made of white marble. It was this structure, said to have been 400 feethigh, that came to be known as the Pharos of Alexandria.

For more than 1,000years the lighthouse known as Pharos of Alexandria guided Mediterranean ships toharbor. Built for Ptolemy II of Egypt in about 280 BC, the lighthouse was severelydamaged by an earthquake in AD 955 and disappeared completely by 1500.

The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus Of Rhodes The Colossus of Rhodes was a 30-m (100-ft) bronze statue of the Greek sungod Helios, erected about 280 BC to guard the entrance to the harbor at Rhodes; itwas destroyed about 55 years later.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a great bronzestatue, erected in about 280 BC by the citizens of Rhodes, capital of the Greek islandof the same name. It represented their sun-god Helios and was said to be 105 feethigh. According to legend, it straddled the harbor entrance, but it is more likelythat it stood to one side. The statue was overthrown by an earthquake in 224 BC butits huge fragments long were regarded with wonder. Nearly a thousand years later,in AD 656, a Muslim dealer bought the fragments as old metal and carried them awayto be melted down.

The old engraving of the Colossus of Rhodes is purely imaginaryand is based on the legend that the statue stood astride the harbor entrance.

The Temple Of Artemis at Ephesus

The Temple Of Artemis at EphesusIs it simply a temple? How could it take its place among other unique structures such as the Pyramid, the Hanging Gardens, and the Colossus of Rhodes? For the people who actually visited it, the answer was simple. It was not just a temple... It was the most beautiful structure on earth... It was built in honor of the Greek goddess of hunting and wild nature. That was the Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus.
The ancient city of Ephesus near the modern town of Selcuk, about 50 km south of Izmir (Smyrna) in Turkey.
Although the foundation of the temple dates back to the seventh century BC, the structure that earned a spot in the list of Wonders was built around 550 BC. Referred to as the great marble temple, or temple D, it was sponsored by the Lydian king Croesus and was designed by the Greek architect Chersiphron. It was decorated with bronze statues sculpted by the most skilled artists of their time: Pheidias, Polycleitus, Kresilas, and Phradmon.
The temple served as both a marketplace and a religious institution. For years, the sanctuary was visited by merchants, tourists, artisans, and kings who paid homage to the goddess by sharing their profits with her. Recent archeological excavations at the site revealed gifts from pilgrims including statuettes of Artemis made of gold and ivory... earrings, bracelets, and necklaces... artifacts from as far as Persia and India.
On the night of 21 July 356 BC, a man named Herostratus burned the temple to ground in an attempt to immortalize his name. He did indeed. Strangely enough, Alexander the Great was born the same night. The historian Plutarch later wrote that the goddess was "too busy taking care of the birth of Alexander to send help to her threatened temple". Over the next two decades, the temple was restored and is labeled "temple E" by archeologists. And when Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor, he helped rebuild the destroyed temple.
When St Paul visited Ephesus to preach Christianity in the first century AD, he was confronted by the Artemis' cult who had no plans to abandon their goddess. And when the temple was again destroyed by the Goths in AD 262, the Ephesians vowed to rebuild. By the fourth century AD, most Ephesians had converted to Christianity and the temple lost its religious glamor. The final chapter came when in AD 401 the Temple of Artemis was torn down by St John Chrysostom. Ephesus was later deserted, and only in the late nineteenth century has the site been excavated. The digging revealed the temple's foundation and the road to the now swampy site. Attempts were recently made to rebuilt the temple, but only a few columns have been re-erected.
The foundation of the temple was rectangular in form, similar to most temples at the time. Unlike other sanctuaries, however, the building was made of marble, with a decorated façade overlooking a spacious courtyard. Marble steps surrounding the building platform led to the high terrace which was approximately 80 m (260 ft) by 130 m (430 ft) in plan. The columns were 20 m (60 ft) high with Ionic capitals and carved circular sides. There were 127 columns in total, aligned orthogonally over the whole platform area, except for the central cella or house of the goddess.
The temple housed many works of art, including four ancient bronze statues of Amazons sculpted by the finest artists at the time. When St Paul visited the city, the temple was adorned with golden pillars and silver statuettes, and was decorated with paintings. There is no evidence that a statue of the goddess herself was placed at the center of the sanctuary, but there is no reason not to believe so.
The early detailed descriptions of the temple helped archeologists reconstruct the building. Many reconstructions such as that by H.F. von Erlach depicted the façade with a four-column porch which never existed. More accurate reconstructions may give us an idea about the general layout of the temple. However, its true beauty lies in the architectural and artistic details which will forever remain unknown.

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum At HalicarnassusThe Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (circa 353 BC) was a monumental marble tomb,decorated by the leading sculptor of the age, for King Mausolus of Caria in AsiaMinor; only fragments remain.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, also in Asia Minor,derived its name from King Mausolus of Caria.

After his death in the middle ofthe 4th century BC, his queen, Artemisia, employed Greek architects to constructa superb monument over his remains. It was a great rectangular pile of masonry, surmountedby an Ionic colonnade supporting a rooflike pyramid. At the apex stood a four-horsechariot in which were statues of the king and queen. So famous was this structurethat the word mausoleum came to be applied to any monumental tomb. Some relics ofthe original Mausoleum are preserved in the British Museum.

Only crumbling fragmentsremain of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus on the coast of Asia Minor. It was raisedto the memory of King Mausolus of Caria by his devoted Queen, Artemisia.

Statue of Zeus

Statue of ZeusThe 12-m (40-ft) Statue of Zeus (mid-5th century BC) by the Greek sculptorPhidias was the central feature of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, Greece.

Thestatue of Olympian Zeus was erected at Olympia, in the Peloponnesus of Greece, bythe great sculptor Phidias in the 5th century BC. It was a towering structureof ivory and gold, 40 feet high, majestic and beautiful.

After about 10 centuriesof existence the statue was destroyed. Our only idea of it is gained from coins ofElis, which are thought to bear copies of the original.

The ivory and gold statueof the Olympian Zeus was perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the sculptor Phidias.It stood in a shrine on the Olympian plain until the early Middle Ages.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of BabylonThe Hanging Gardens of Babylon, perhaps built by King Nebuchadnezzar II about600 BC, were a mountainlike series of planted terraces.

The Hanging Gardens ofBabylon have long since disappeared. They were said to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzarin the 6th century BC to please and console his favorite wife, Amytis. Great terracesof masonry were built one on top of the other. On these were planted gardens of tropicalflowers and trees and avenues of palms. They were irrigated by water pumped fromthe Euphrates River. Nebuchadnezzar and his queen could sit in the shade and lookdown upon the beauties of the city. The walls of Babylon were often included withthe Hanging Gardens among the wonders of Babylon. Built by Nebuchadnezzar, they werefaced with glazed tile and pierced by openings fitted with magnificent brass gates.

Accordingto tradition, the homesickness of a favorite wife prompted Nebuchadnezzar, king ofBabylon, to build the famous Hanging Gardens. Nothing remains of these luxuriantterraces.

The Pyramids of Egypt

The Pyramids of Egypt, built at Giza during the 4th Dynasty (circa 2680-c.2544 BC) are the oldest of the seven wonders and the only ones remaining intact today.

Thegreat pyramids of Egypt still stand. They were built between 2650 and 2500 BC. Exceptfor parts of the Mausoleum and of the temple of Artemis, they are the only one ofthe seven ancient wonders still standing.

Of the seven wonders of the ancientworld, only the pyramids of Egypt have survived in a form that resembles their originalcondition. The largest of the three, known as the Great Pyramid of Khufu, was madeof approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone each weighing an average of 2.5 tons.Located in Giza on the west bank of the Nile River, near Cairo, the pyramids remainone of the engineering marvels of all time.