THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD

The Seven Wonders of the World is a list of seven historical sites that are regarded as the most beautiful and outstanding man-made monuments around the world. These incredible buildings were chosen as the “New 7 Wonders of the World” in a global online voting organized by the New7Wonders Foundation located in Zurich, Switzerland. The campaign started in 2000 with the selection of 200 monuments and over a period of seven years people from different countries could vote for their favourite sites via Internet or by telephone. The winners were finally announced in Lisbon on July 7th, 2007. So how about learning some interesting facts and myths about these amazing works of architecture?

THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD

Video by The Most Beautiful Video Channel. Creative Commons License.

The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre located in the centre of the city of Rome in Italy. This outstanding work of architecture, which is regarded as a symbol of the power and glory of the Roman Empire, is the largest amphitheatre ever built in history. In the early years, the Colosseum was mainly used for entertainment. For example, there are many historical records that depict the contests of gladiators, re-enactments of famous battles and performances of dramas that took place in the central stage of the amphitheatre. When Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312 A.D, the building ceased to be used for entertainment and started to be used for religious purposes.

Picture by Kirkandmimi. Public Domain License. 

The citadel of Machu Picchu is located on a mountain ridge in the High Andes of Peru. Many archaeologists and historians agree that Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Emperor Pachacutec in the late 15th century. In fact, the construction of the citadel began when the power and influence of the Inca civilization started to grow and spread throughout the region. According to some historical records, Machu Picchu was inhabited by at least three generations of Incas, but then it was mysteriously abandoned. For many centuries, “The Lost City of the Incas” remained unknown to the world until it was discovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911.

Picture by LoggaWiggler. Public Domain License.

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built entirely out of white ivory marbles in the Indian city of Agra. This magnificent monument was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 to pay a tribute to his wife Mumtaz Mahal after her death. Shah Jahan wanted to build a beautiful and peaceful resting place for his beloved wife. The Taj Mahal was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 for representing the Muslim art in India and for being one of the most admired architectonical masterpieces in the world. In fact, the Taj Mahal is regarded as a symbol of eternal love.

Picture by Myeviajes. Public Domain License. 

The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications built by many Chinese dynasties over hundreds of years to protect the Chinese Empire against the invasions of various nomadic tribes from the Eurasian Steppe such as the Mongol, Turic and Xiongnu people. The wall is approximately 20,000 kilometers long and it is the longest man-made structure in the world. One of the most popular ancient myths related to this fortress was that many people used to believe that the Great Wall was so immense that it could be seen from the moon.

Picture by Panayota. Public Domain License.

Christ the Redeemer is a statue located at the peak of the Corcovado mountain in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue, which is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, is 30 metres tall and the arms stretch 28 meters wide. The monument was designed by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa. The sculpture is considered a symbol of Christianity around the world and is the largest Art Deco statue ever built. To celebrate the monument’s 75th anniversary in 2006, a small chapel was built at the base of the statute.

Pictures by Farfallacomunicacao and Mkaratzu. Public Domain License. 

Petra is a historical and archaeological site in the Kingdom of Jordan in Western Asia. This ancient city, also known as “The Rose City” because of the colour of the stone used by the Nabataeans to build it, was the trading center and capital of the Nabataean empire. The Nabataeans were a group of Arab people who lived in northern Arabia between 400 B.C. and 106 A.D. For many centuries, “The Lost City” remained unknown to the Western world until it was discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. This captivating city was also a source of inspiration for many writers. In one of his most famous poems, John William Burgon described Petra as “a rose-red city half as old as time“.

Picture by Skeeze. Public Domain License.

Chichen Itza is an archaeological site located in the Mexican state of Yucatán. In the past, this place was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans over a period of a thousand years. Chichen Itza reached its golden era between 600 and 800 AD and during that period the city was the centre of the political, cultural and economic life of the Maya civilization. Also, this site was a religious centre because it was the seat of power of the priest-kings. Therefore, the most important rites and rituals of the Maya religion took place inside the temples and pyramids of the city.

Picture by MarkgCap. Public Domain License.

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GRUNGE ROCK AND THE SEATTLE SOUND

Grunge is a rock subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in Seattle, a large seaport city in the State of Washington. Grunge music was a mixture of punk rock and heavy metal and, in its early stages, this new kind of music was played by a number of underground bands in low-key venues around the city of Seattle. Even though the sound of these groups was raw and rough like punk rock, many young people started to feel drawn to these bands because they found their style both daring and exciting. Also, teenagers felt identified with the lyrics of the songs because they talked about the worries and problems of young people in a tough world.

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For a couple of years, this subgenre of alternative rock remained a local phenomenon restricted to the city of Seattle. And it was not until the release of Nirvana’s album Nevermind in 1991 that grunge music started to become popular all over the world. Other American bands that contributed to the success of the grunge movement were Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in ChainsThe word “grunge” (1) was first used by a music critic in a magazine to refer to the sloppy and untidy nature of distorted sounds in rock n’ roll in the late 1970s. But it was Mark Arm, the lead vocalist of the group Mudhoney, who first used the term “grunge” in Seattle to describe the sound of his own band. The word immediately caught on in the media and started to be used to refer to the new music genre that had originated in Seattle in the mid-1980s.

(1) The noun “grunge” derives from the adjective “grungy”, which means shabby or dirty in character or condition.

Picture by Medium As Muse. Creative Commons License.

Although many grunge bands had already broken up or fallen into oblivion in the late 1990s, they still had a strong influence in the evolution of rock n’ roll because they had brought a whole new type of music to the stage and paved the way for other rock bands to emerge such as Foo Fighters, Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots. And even though these post-grunge groups lacked the “rebellious essence” of grunge music, they did their best to keep the legacy of the Seattle movement alive. In fact, many critics believe that grunge music has brought about a revolution in the field of rock n’ roll and some of them are convinced that the ethos and spirit of the movement will continue to influence many generations of musicians to come.

Picture by Alice Towers Rice. Creative Commons License. 

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VIKINGS: AN EPIC STORY

Vikings is one of the most successful series on TV at the moment. The show is a thrilling historical drama based on the life of the legendary Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok, who invaded England and France during the 9th century. The series portrays the rise of Ragnar from farmer and warrior to explorer and conqueror, and eventually (spoiler alert!) Scandinavian king, thanks to the support of his family and fellow warriors.

Picture by Niklem. Public Domain License. 

Vikings is a gripping story that has a combination of action, adventure and romance. Moreover, it is a saga with deep emotional relationships among the characters, who feel real and authentic to the time period. The series introduces us to the mysterious world of the Vikings and for the first time in a TV show these Scandinavian people are presented as the heroes of the story by keeping the focus on their culture and traditions. For example, throughout the episodes, we get to know about their religion, political structure and family bonds. Also, we learn about their voyages, discoveries and conquests. 

Picture by Smallman. Public Domain License.

The Vikings were master seafarers and they developed innovative methods of ship-building and sailing techniques. Some historians believe that the longship was the Vikings’ greatest technological achievement. The revolutionary design of these vessels allowed the Vikings to easily adapt to their environment: they could sail in oceans, rivers or lakes at very high speed, change direction backwards without turning around, perform beach landings and carry the ships over their shoulders. 

Picture by Stefan Ertmann. Creative Commons License.

So if you’re a history buff or you just want to enjoy an epic story of intrigue, power and romance, then Vikings is beyond doubt the TV series to watch!

Vikings was written and created by English screenwriter Michael Hirst and it is broadcast by the Canadian TV channel History. Currently, Vikings is on its fourth season and the producers have already announced that the fifth season of the series is going to premiere on November 29th, 2017.

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WIMBLEDON OVERVIEW

Wimbledon is one of the four annual Grand Slam tennis events – along with the Australian, French and US Opens – and is the only “lawn tennis” championship because it is played on natural grass courts, the sport’s original surface. The French Open is played on clay courts whereas the US and Australian Opens are played on hard courts. 

The district of Wimbledon has been the home of the world’s greatest tennis tournament since 1877. For two weeks in high summer – late June and early July – this quiet and green suburb of southwest London becomes the center of the sporting universe.

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For 140 years, the oldest and most prestigious tennis championship in the world has been held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, most commonly known as the All England ClubThe sports venue was founded in 1868 and only eight years after its foundation, a new sport created by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield was included in the list of activities offered by the club.

The first championship was played in 1877 and 22 players participated in the tournament. The winner was Spencer Gore, a 27-year-old sportsman who excelled at many sports, especially football, tennis and cricket. The prize at that time consisted of a silver challenge trophy and 20 guineas.

For the next couple of years, the championship was regarded as a simple pastime for the members of the British gentry. But as time went by, the popularity of the game and the competition grew and broadened all over the UK and people from all walks of life started to attend this prestigious sporting event. As the tournament became more and more popular, so did its traditions and customs.

Picture by Benjamí Villoslada. Creative Commons License.

Wimbledon is home to some of the greatest legends in tennis history, such as Rod Laver, Boris Becker, Steffi Graf, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

Picture by Nikola Spicar. Creative Commons License. Players from left to right: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, David Ferrer, Andy Roddick, Fernando Gonzalez and Richard Gasquet.

Here are some Wimbledon customs and traditions that have survived over the years:

* Spectators enjoy eating strawberries with cream and drinking champagne before and after the matches, both habits intrinsically associated with the arrival of the British summer.

* The tournament has a very strict dress code for competitors: all players must wear white clothing while they play.

* Sponsorship is not allowed on the boards around the courts. Wimbledon boasts the patronage of the English Royal family, which has supported and attended the sporting event since 1907. 

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GEORGE LUCAS’ EDUTOPIA

Edutopia is a website run by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. This organization was founded by the filmmaker in 1991 to help educators implement strategies to empower students to think critically, solve problems creatively and work collaboratively.

Picture by Prawny. Public Domain License.

When George Lucas started the foundation, he thought that the idea of making an archive of what really worked in education seemed like an amazing and powerful idea. That’s why his team started making movies of methodologies and processes that worked in different schools around the USA. And once the Internet became available, the team decided to upload all these movies on a website so that teachers could have access to them and bring innovative strategies to their classrooms.

Over the years, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, most commonly known by its acronym GLEF, has become a worldwide leader organization in providing teachers with tools, resources and ideas to improve education. Also, it has encouraged the use of innovative strategies to focus the students’ learning process on finding solutions to real-world problems. The members of the foundation believe that becoming life-time learners and creative problem-solvers are the most important skills students need to acquire in order to become successful in their lives.

Picture by Wesley Fryer. Creative Commons License.

So basically the main mission of the foundation is to tell a story of what actually works in education. The organization has spent more than 25 years producing innovative materials, documenting great educational experiences and researching about new methodologies to engage students in their own learning process. So if you’re interested in, for example, project-based learning, multimedia based education or social emotional learning, Edutopia is the right place to visit on the web. Read more at www.edutopia.org

“SIMPLICITY AND LACK OF OPTIONS UNLEASH THE POWER OF CREATIVITY”. 
John Spencer.

Video by John Spencer. Creative Commons License. 

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GOOGLE ART PROJECT

Have you ever thought that you could take a virtual tour around some of the world’s most famous art galleries and museums by just clicking on a few links? No? Well, the Google team has made this dream come true by creating an online platform through which you can have access to high-resolution images of art works housed in cultural institutions all over the world. And all you need to start this virtual adventure is an Internet connection and a computer. That’s all! It sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it?

Picture by Agnali. Public Domain License.

The Google Art Project started seven years ago when a group of employees at the search company had a brainstorming meeting to discuss the different ways in which they could use virtual technology to help museums and art galleries make their works of art accessible to those people who lived far away from these cultural institutions or weren’t lucky enough to be able to afford a ticket to visit them.

Picture by Piro4D. Public Domain License. 

Thanks to the cutting-edge technology developed by the Google team, you can just click on the following link www.googleartproject.com and you will find thousands of high-resolution images of art works, ranging from paintings and sculptures to artifacts and furniture. Also, you will have access to images of historical sites and monumentsAmong Google´s partners participating in this exciting and innovative project, we can mention some of the world’s most prestigious art museums such as Tate Britain and The National Gallery in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York, Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Musée d’Orsay in Paris. So if you are passionate about art or you just feel curious after reading this post, click here and enjoy the virtual tour through all these amazing institutions. You won’t reget it!

Picture by Agnali. Public Domain License.

COLOR OF ENERGY. Abstract paintings by Ania Milo.

Video by Ania Milo-Swann. Creative Commons License.

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AND THE OSCAR GOES TO …

Each year millions of viewers around the world watch the Academy Awards ceremony, where Hollywood celebrities come to shine at the Red Carpet and compete for the most coveted prize in the film industry: The Oscars. But why are the famous statuettes called The Oscars? And what does the golden man of the trophy represent?

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Picture by Gordon Tarpley. Creative Commons Public License. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – mostly known as “The Academy” – was founded in 1927 and one of the most important goals of this organization was to create an annual award to encourage the different members of the film industry to achieve quality and excellence in the following branches of film production: Actors, Directors, Producers, Writers and Technicians.

After a couple of meetings to figure out what type of prize they were going to hand out to the winners, Cedric Gibbons, an art director from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, finally came up with the most original design for the trophy: a majestic golden image of a knight holding a sword and standing on a reel of a film. The sword was regarded as a symbol of protection for the welfare of the film industry. Although the original name of the trophy was “The Academy Award of Merit”, the statuette soon became better known by its nickname, “The Oscar”. The origins of this nickname are uncertain, but one legend has it that when Academy executive director Margaret Herrick first saw the statuette, she said that it looked like an uncle of hers called Oscar. After that remark, the Academy staff started to refer to the trophy as “The Oscar”. A few years later, the nickname became widely popular and Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky decided to use it in an article about the 7th edition of the awards in 1934. Finally, the Academy officially adopted the name Oscar for the trophy in 1939.

Picture by Gordon Tarpley. Creative Commons Public License.

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Picture by Geralt. Public Domain License.

The first Academy Awards were held on May 16th, 1929 at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel. The ceremony consisted of a simple banquet attended by less than 300 guests. Surprisingly enough, each guest paid five dollars for the ticket to the dinner. This was by no means the type of glittering show we see today. Over the years, this world-wide event has become bigger and more glamorous. And the next 89th Academy Awards ceremony is not going to be the exception to the rule. Enjoy the show!

THE OSCARS 2017: MAKE YOUR OWN PREDICTION!

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