Acropolis, Great Wall, Taj Mahal Among Top Candidates For New 7 Wonders of The World - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Acropolis, Great Wall, Taj Mahal Among Top Candidates For New 7 Wonders of The World

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - The Great Wall of China, Greece's Acropolis and Peru's Machu Picchu were leading contenders to be named among the new seven wonders of the world in a global poll whose results were to be announced Saturday.

Also in the top 10 after votes were cast by more than 90 million people are the Colosseum in Rome, India's Taj Mahal, Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, Easter Island, Brazil's Statue of Christ Redeemer and Jordan's Petra.

The winners were to be announced in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Great Pyramids of Giza, the only surviving structures from the original seven wonders of the ancient world, were assured of retaining their status in addition to the new seven after indignant Egyptian officials said it was a disgrace they had to compete.

People throughout the world voted by Internet or phone message for the world's top architectural marvels, said New7Wonders, the nonprofit group conducting the balloting.

The Colosseum, the Great Wall, Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and Petra have been among the leaders since January. The Acropolis and the Statue of Christ Redeemer recently received a surge in votes.

The United States' Statue of Liberty and Australia's Sydney Opera House have been sitting near the bottom from the start.

Also in the less-voted group are Cambodia's Angkor, Spain's Alhambra, Turkey's Hagia Sophia, Japan's Kiyomizu Temple, Russia's Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral, Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle, Britain's Stonehenge and Mali's Timbuktu.

The campaign was launched in 1999 by the Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber. Almost 200 nominations came in, and the list was narrowed to the 21 most-voted by the start of 2006. Organizers admit there was no foolproof way to prevent people from voting more than once for their favorite.

Weber's Switzerland-based foundation aims to promote cultural diversity by supporting, preserving and restoring monuments. It relies on private donations and revenue from selling broadcasting rights.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, keeps a list of World Heritage Sites, which now totals 851 places, but the agency was not involved in Weber's project.

The traditional seven wonders were concentrated in the Mediterranean and Middle East. That list was derived from lists of marvels compiled by ancient Greek observers, the best known being Antipater of Sidon, a writer in the 2nd century B.C.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Pharos lighthouse off Alexandria have all vanished.

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