More of wonders

This is a circular assemblage of huge, shaped, prehistoric stones in Salisbury plain. Situated about 145 km south west of the British capital London, these pre-historic structures were built in around 1800-1500 BC. This was when people in the British Isles built up various huge stone structures by adopting the techniques of the New Stone Age. The stones here are arranged in two concentric circles, one within the other.   

It is a wonder how people during the pre-historic period could arrange such huge stones in such an orderly manner. And not only that. The arrangements are also remarkable from a scientific point of view. Scientists wonder if the concepts of mathematics, we use these days, were already known during these times! 

The Coliseum

The Coliseum, or Colosseum  in Rome, is one of the largest amphitheaters in the world. It is so called because of its immense size and capacity. It is a free standing structure of stone and concrete, measuring 620 by 513 feet overall and seating 50,000 spectators. It was the scene of thousands of hand-to-hand combats between gladiators, of contests between men and animals, and of many larger combats, including mock naval engagements.    

The construction started on the site of the Golden House of Nero during the regime of the Emperor Vespasian, somewhere in between AD 70-72. The structure was officially dedicated in AD 80 by Titus in a ceremony that included 100 days of games. It was completed with the addition of the uppermost story by the Emperor Domitian in 82 AD. 
It was damaged by lightning and earthquakes in medieval times and, even more severely, by vandalism. Because of these, all the marble seats and decorative materials have disappeared. 

Leaning tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, or, Torre Pendente di Pisa, in one of the wonders of the middle ages. Situated in Italy, it is a round, 8-storied bell tower built of marble. It is famous for the settling of the foundation that supports such a long tower to lean 17 feet towards the ground. Instead of being made up to be leaning, the entire structure just happened to lean. This engineering marvel that amazingly leans against the ground was built in 1154 AD. The engineer of this 57.3 meter high tower was Bonannus of Pisa. The construction begun in 1174 AD as the third and final structure of the city's cathedral complex.

Originally it was designed to stand 185 feet(56 m) high. Three of its eight stories were completed when the building's base was found to be sunken in the soft ground. 
The engineer tried to make up the lean by making the new stories slightly taller on the short side. But this eventually caused the structure to sink still further. Work was suspended several times as engineers sought solutions. But the tower was ultimately topped out in the 14th century. And still leaning.

Alhambra is a wonderful building complex of palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs at Granada, southern Spain. Situated on a plateau overlooking the city of Granada, this is a magnificent piece of medieval architecture.  The outer walls are built by the sun-dried bricks made of fine gravel and clay. The color of the bricks are red. Hence the name Alhambra, signifying in Arabic "the red".

The palace was built chiefly between AD 1238 and 1358. 
It was during the reigns of Ibn al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty, and his successors. Since 1492 when the Moors were driven out, much of the interior was damaged. Mainly due to war, quake and the later rulers trying to leave their influence on it. 

The whole complex was made of two main buildings- 'Alcazaba', or the fortress; and 'Alhambra', the Palace compound. The fortress is the oldest part--only its massive outer walls, towers, and ramparts are left. And out of the whole Palace, only three parts remain intact. First, there is the long Court of the Myrtles. The court leads to the huge Hall of Ambassadors located in one of the exterior towers. Then there is the Court of the Lions, with its famous lion fountain in the center. Numerous rooms open off this court, including the elaborately decorated Hall of the Two Sisters and the Hall of the Abencerrajes. The third part, Generalife, is a summer residence built higher up the hill and surrounded by gardens with fountains, pavilions, and portico walks.

Taj Mahal:

The Taj Mahal, popularly called The Taj, is regarded as one of the most beautiful piece of monuments in the world.  It comes as a part of a larger mausoleum complex built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan over the tomb of his wife, Empress Mumtaj Mahal. It is situated on the bank of the river Yamuna at Agra, in the northern part of India. Its construction was started in 1631 and completed in 1653. 

It shows a blending of Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles.  The mausoleum proper is of white marble that reflects various hues with the variation of the sunlight or moonlight. The majestic central dome, which reaches a height of 240 feet (73 metres), is surrounded by four lesser domes. This central building is again surrounded by four elegant minarets.
The chief architect was probably Ustad Ahmad Lahawri, an Indian of Persian descent. There are five principal elements of the complex--main gateway, garden, mosque, 'jawab' (a building mirroring the mosque), and the main mausoleum building. More than 20,000 workers were employed from India, Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and Europe. And it took about 22 years to for the whole work to be finished. Obviously, at the cost of thousands of gold coins.

Angkor Wat Temple:
Angkor Wat is the magnificent temple complex of the medieval Khmer civilization. Situated in the southern coast of Cambodia, it is regarded as the largest religious structure in the world. one of the world's most celebrated archaeological sites. 
The enormous temple complex was built by the King Suryavarman II during the early part of the 12th century. The temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Eventually it housed the tomb of the founder king. And later it also turned out to be an astronomical observatory.
The structure of the Wat is some 1,550 meters long. And 1,400 meters wide. The temple complex rises in circular patterns. The central shrines around which the circles spread out 
from the smallest to the largest is approached by a magnificent and wide road from the west. The whole temple complex in the city of Angkor was meant to bear a symbolic meaning. The meaning of the whole universe.
Its central shrine indicates the hub of the universe. And its surrounding structures - the gate complex, the enclosures, and the city of Angkor itself, all  world--represent the successive outer envelopes of cosmic reality.
Much of the temple complex is destroyed after four centuries of foreign invasions, civil war.
Only five of the original nine towers still stand at the summit. By the 16th century, the city had long been abandoned. All that remained were the jungle-covered remnants of the ancient temples. One of the enclosures, though mostly damaged, still depict scenes from the ancient Hindu epics of Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

Porcelain tower of Nanking
The Porcelain tower of Nanking was built in that ancient capital of South China in the early part of the 15th century. The Circus Maxima at Rome was built in 605 BC by King Tarquin and rebuilt and enlarged by Julius Caesar. It could hold 385,000 audience for any great show. The Catacombs at Rome were the sepulchers of the early Christians. They were consisted of more than 40 groups of labyrinths, or galleries and chambers. They covered 250 hectares, sometimes going down to 5 storeys (21 meters) below the surface of the ground.

China's Great Wall

The Great Wall of China was built in the 3rd century BC. The wall which was once around 5000 Km long had not been built at one go. It was rather an assemblage of works of a number small kings heading various small states from time to time, stretching over some five centuries.
The construction was initiated by the state of Ch'u sometime back in the 7th century BC to protect itself from the barbarian invasion of the nearby states. However, the idea struck the neighboring states as well and they also followed Chu soon. It took until around 204 BC to complete the whole structure that gave shape to a unified China. Much of the Wall is damaged.

The 3219 km long stretch that stands today, starts from the northern part of the Gulf of Chihli on the Yellow Sea, in the north of Peking. After a long zigzag course it ends at Syning on the border of Turkestan. The Great Wall had three major components: passes, signal towers (beacons), and walls.

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