The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are so last year; there’s a new global initiative in town seeking to put a modern spin on the old hat list by identifying seven of the world’s urban wonders.
While the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia are all very well and good, the human race did build them rather a long time ago and the New7Wonders project is seeking to rectify that with a new list of marvels. Created by filmmaker and explorer Bernard Weber, the global initiative took form as a democratic competition aiming to “showcase cities that best represent the achievements and aspirations of our global urban civilisation”.
New7Wonders also sought to provide a platform for the discussion of everything from urban planning to tourism and governance.
The competition drew hundreds of millions of votes from all over the globe, beginning from a long-list of more than 1,200 cities in 220 countries. The seven cities chosen are emblematic of the rapidly changing landscape of Planet Earth as humanity continues to reshape its home in its own image – but which African city has been voted as one of the seven winners?
La Paz, Bolivia
A city like no other, La Paz, Bolivia, will (quite literally) take your breath away. Of course, the scenery is spectacular with cityscape hewn out of the hills at the base of towering snow-capped mountains – but it’s the altitude that will leave you truly breathless.
Welcome to the eclectic, contradictory and captivating Havana, Cuba, where the streets pulse with the rumble of classic car engines and sensual salsa beats, cigar smoke wafts from windows and rum runs in rivers down the streets. Ok, there aren’t actual rivers of rum, but the spirit does flow freely at the bars around town.
Durban, South Africa
Boasting the climate of a tropical paradise all year round, and home to the busiest port in South Africa and some of the best coastlines in the world, Durban is a modern city literally built on the beachfront.
Once known as the “Paris of the Middle East”, Beirut has a long and colourful history as the cosmopolitan heart of the region. International travellers flock to the ancient metropolis for food, fashion and fun on the shores of the Mediterranean. Despite a turbulent recent past, Beirut is slowly re-establishing itself as a tourism hotspot, where sophisticated glamour meets traditional culture.
Surrounded by the glittering waters of the Persian Gulf, Doha is a modern city with deep historic roots. A jewel at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the tiny nation of Qatar is quickly capturing the attention of savvy world travellers with its enticing blend of history, culture and modernity.
Travel back in time to the Spanish-era Philippines with a trip to Vigan. Just a short plane ride from Manila, Vigan is the perfect mini-break from the manic country capital, or a destination in its own right. Vigan is a romantic’s paradise; horse-drawn carriages pull you down streets lined with Spanish colonial architecture, while haciendas and mansions offer travellers a glimpse into the city’s sumptuous Spanish history.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
From gleaming glass towers to narrow streets packed with the shouts of street vendors and from the sizzle of hawkers’ woks to the chatter of dozens of different languages, Kuala Lumpur is a true melting pot.