The United Nations turned 70 Saturday, and it made sure the world knew about the event. Countries large and small Saturday night bathed their iconic buildings, historic and ancient sites, and other landmarks in blue light, the color of the international organization, often to stunning effect in photos, from the pyramids of Giza to Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Some 300 sites around the world were lit up Saturday, the United Nations said. The purpose of the event was to commemorate U.N. Day Oct. 24, which is the anniversary of when the United Nations charter entered into force in 1945. That charter's ratification marked the birth of the United Nations, an international body whose purpose was to "maintain international peace and security" and remove threats to collective peace, according to the charter.
The U.N. also aimed to develop better relations and improve cooperation among countries and promote respect for human rights, among other goals. Today, the United Nations has 193 member nations. Its programs provide food to some 90 million people in 80 countries, according to its own statistics, and it helps nearly 40 million people who are fleeing war, famine and persecution.
But the organization is also controversial and is frequently painted as ineffective, particularly given the ongoing civil war in Syria that has divided the U.N. Security Council and a refugee crisis in Europe that has reached historic proportions.
Nevertheless, countries around the world celebrated the United Nations Saturday, in an event the United Nations itself said would be "part of a large-scale press and social media outreach effort" that "will be seen by millions of people around the world." Here's what they looked like, in pictures.
Below, a blue Great Wall Of China stretches into the distance:
In Lebanon, the Crusaders' Citadel in Byblos, north of Beirut, is lit up in blue as people linger in the foreground.
Egypt lit up the Pyramids of Giza, estimated to be more than 4,000 years old. The Sphinx that lies nearby was also part of the lightshow.
In Lithuania, the Gediminas Castle Tower was illuminated.
In New York City, the top of the Empire State Building in Manhattan glowed blue:
In Belarus, a blue national library contrasted with a yellowed backdrop of clouds.
In Jordan, Roman ruins atop the Citadel were blue against a backdrop of homes and mosques.
A fog clouded the blue-lit Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Kazakhstan lit up the "Hotel Kazakhstan" in Almaty.
In Belgium, the city hall on Brussels' Grand Place glowed blue.