The Acropolis in Athens and the Agia Sophia church in Istanbul are among 21 sites competing to be named among the new Seven Wonders of the World, organizers of an Internet vote said last month.
The poll is being conducted by the Swiss-based New Seven Wonders of the World campaign. Voting will last until the end of the year and the winners will be announced on January 1, 2007.
Organizers said they would donate half of the revenues raised during the campaign to restoration efforts. Other sites on the list include the Statue of Liberty in New York, Stonehenge in England and the Great Wall of China.
The only one to remain from the classical Seven Wonders of the World is the Pyramids of Giza, near Cairo in Egypt, which have also been included in the list of candidates.
Separately, the first phase of the long-awaited Acropolis Museum will be ready by the end of next year, according to the country’s culture ministry. The ministry said that the 20,000-square-meter glass and concrete museum would display sculptures and other finds from the 2,500-year-old Acropolis temples.
The building itself, which is scheduled for completion before the end of next year, is designed to withstand the many earthquakes that shake the capital every year, said the ministry.
Construction of the museum, a few hundred meters from the Acropolis, was meant to have been finished in time for the 2004 Athens Olympics. However, because of legal wrangles and delays due to archaeological finds on the construction site, only the underground four-level section of the building has been completed thus far.
“We have now reached the most crucial point of the project, with construction of the parts of the structure that will isolate and protect it from earthquakes,” said Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis.
He said this would leave only the huge glass panels that are to form the outer cover of the building to be put in place. Glass has been incorporated into the design to allow plenty of natural light into the building and to give visitors a clear view of the Acropolis.
In the meantime, the majority of restoration work on the Acropolis itself is due to be completed by the end of next year and the government has said it will make the necessary funds available for the project to be concluded by 2020.