Collage of the 7 Wonders of the World

What Are The 7 Wonders Of The World?

Ancient Greek pilgrims compiled a list of the most astonishing creations they came across in their trials, and today, we honor that legacy by doing the same. As of 2007, according to the New7Wonders Foundation, these are the most stunning constructions people have ever built.

The 7 Wonders Of The World

Wonder Location Year Built
Great Wall of China China 700 BC
Petra Ma'an, Jordan 312 BC
Colosseum Rome, Italy 80 AD
Chichén Itzá Yucatán, Mexico 600 AD
Machu Picchu Cuzco Region, Peru 1450 AD
Taj Mahal Agra, India 1643 AD
Christ the Redeemer Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1931 AD
Seven Wonders of The World
The New Seven Wonders of The World

The Great Wall Of China - China, Built In 700 BCE

The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China.

A creation that serves as one of the largest archives of historical documents and a morgue, the Great Wall of China has gone far beyond its original purpose as just a defensive measure. Let's unpack that: because it was in construction for nearly 2,000 years by separate dynasties, inscriptions, and corpses are carved and buried onto and into this megalithic icon. Furthermore, tourist hype forced Chinese authorities to implement a daily limit of 65,000 visitors in places like the Badaling section of the Great Wall. It is hard to estimate the total annual visitors due to it being 5,500 miles (8,851 km) long, but around 150 million inbound tourists visit Beijing each year, and travel bloggers frequently claim that almost all tourists visiting Beijing are planning to check out the wall.

In ancient times, foreign visitors were the antithesis of the wall's purpose because it was designed to prevent invasions by northern tribes, although it occasionally failed, like when Ghengis Khan overran it in 1214 CE with his nomadic army. Sadly, many stretches of the wall have vanished because of erosion and human disturbance. It also has a history as a form of border control for the Silk Road era, and it expedited the transmission of information from one region to another. Also, emperors would frequently expand or reinforce it as a demonstration of their dynasty's power and wealth. Despite popular belief, the wall is not visible from space, but it is visible in person; this is all the more reason to book a flight and check it out.

Petra - Jordan, Built In 312 BCE

Stunning view from a cave of the Ad Deir, Monastery in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan
Stunning view from a cave of the Ad Deir, Monastery in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan.

"This is impossible" is a common thought for those who stand beneath the carved red-rock mountains in Petra. Yet, there it is. This ancient trading hub is larger than any painting or picture can capture, which is a reality that its one million annual visitors can understand. The buildings, sculpted straight out of the canyon walls, would have been endangered by sudden flash floods, but the Nabateans (a wealthy arab kingdom) designed a complex water control system to manage this. Due to the desert climate, they even installed an intricate series of dams, canals, and reservoirs into the rock faces to maintain a consistent water supply for 20,000 inhabitants. Those grooves still exist in the rock walls today, collecting moisture the same way as they did two thousand years ago.

Additionally, a legend once existed regarding a carved urn in the Treasury facade: Bedouin sharpshooters left bullet holes across it hundreds of years ago, believing that it held priceless riches within. The original occupants were also religious, and several of the carved buildings, like the Monastery and High Place of Sacrifice, were designed for ritual. More recently, the abandoned city has been the site of films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. If you stumble across the complex today, a group of resilient people still reside in the carved homes, peddling crafts and offering rides on camels and horses.

The Colosseum - Italy, Built In 80 CE

Colosseum in Rome, Italy, in summer.
The ancient Roman Colosseum is one of the main tourist attractions in Europe.

Emperors are addicted to cementing their legacy by constructing incredible wonders, and the relationship between Emperor Vespasian and the Colosseum he commissioned is no different. The project was so grand that it was his son Titus' responsibility to complete it, and Emperor Domitian earned a little credit by making substantial modifications. Roman concrete, limestone, and volcanic rock were essential ingredients to this 50,000-spectator arena, and earthquakes and stone thieves tried and failed to tear it down.

It was not a site for friendly bouts of football and musical concerts — gladiators fought for a bloody victory, battles were reenacted, and terrifying, exotic animals were put on display. The effort had a singular purpose beyond mere spectacle: to provide the crowds with entertainment as a means of preventing unrest, which can lead to riots and regime change. However, after Rome collapsed, the space was converted into housing, workshops, and even religious spaces during the medieval eras. Today, over six million people visit it each year, and it continues to host exciting exhibitions and shows.

Chichén Itzá - Mexico, Built In 600 CE

Chichen Itza snake and Kukulkan Mayan temple pyramid Mexico
Chichen Itza snake and Kukulkan Mayan temple pyramid Mexico.

This site is a golden example to prove that Egyptians were not the only ones capable of constructing enormous pyramids. The largest structure, El Castillo, is 98 feet and utilizes 365 stone steps to represent the solar year. The Maya people went beyond just sheer scale: during the equinoxes, a mystical shadow appears due to ingenious engineering, and a serpent's shadow appears to slither down the staircase. Naturally, this attention to detail means that the whole area was a religious, political, and economic center for the Mayan civilization that seems to have vanished overnight, abandoning all settlements by 900 CE. Stone tools were enough to create this 5 km2 complex, which is one of the reasons it fits as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Astronomy and acoustics were common sciences in this city, which is fitted with an ancient observatory, and whispers at one end of the Ball Court can be heard 135 meters away at the other end. Human sacrifices were performed here, but thankfully, its 3 million yearly visitors will not have to witness those extinct practices.

Machu Picchu - Peru, Built In 1450 CE

Overview of the lost inca city Machu Picchu, agriculture terraces and Wayna Picchu, peak in the background, before sunrise
The lost Incan city, Machu Picchu.

Can you imagine the astonishment of those who discovered this metropolis, seemingly floating on clouds between mountains? The Machu Picchu, perched high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is a stone's throw from Cuzco. Although it was well known to the local people, the West took note of it in 1911 when it was spotted by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. It was initially believed to be Vilcabamba, a hidden Incan haven during the Spanish resistance. The genuine intent behind this 15th-century structure, however, remains debated, with suggestions that it served as a sanctuary for the revered 'Virgins of the Sun,' a place of worship, or perhaps a regal escape. Notwithstanding its remote and towering position, travelers can step back in time amidst meticulously preserved Incan edifices showcasing farming terraces, open squares, living quarters, and skillfully designed shrines. Erected around 1450 as an imperial commission under Inca ruler Pachacuti, the site mesmerizes onlookers with its smooth, dry-stone construction and breathtaking vistas of the encompassing valley.

The Taj Mahal - India, Built In 1643 CE

Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India on a sunny day
Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The Taj Mahal welcomes an astonishing 35 to 40 thousand visitors every day — and with busy seasons, it is no stranger to up to 8 million visitors annually. The origin of this marbled expression of love lies in the celebrated reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan 400 years ago. This leader had a desire to build a monument to the object of his affection and favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Ultimately, it exists as a tomb for her, but she is certainly one of the few people who will not be forgotten as time goes by.

It took 20 thousand artisans to create this place, with precious jewels and marble that are said to gleam pink and white depending on the time of day. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1983), the architecture is a celebration of the Mughal style. One fascinating choice the designers made was to slightly tilt the four minarets (towers) away from the main structure so that in the case of disaster, they would not collapse towards the tomb and cause more damage. Bear in mind, if you take the pilgrimage there, that the complex also hosts a brilliant mosque and a guest house that are worthy of appreciation, too.

Christ The Redeemer - Brazil, Built In 1931 CE

Aerial view of Christ Redeemer and Corcovado Mountain
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image credit Iurii Dzivinskyi via Shutterstock

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is an awe-inspiring symbol of both faith and architectural brilliance. Overlooking the city from atop Mount Corcovado, this religious icon is visited by almost 2 million people per year. Initiated in the period following World War I, its creation from 1926 to 1931 was a collective endeavor involving Heitor da Silva Costa, Carlos Oswald, and Paul Landowski. With a striking height of 98 feet and its arms reaching 92 feet wide, it's a marvel to behold. The base further elevates its grandeur by 26 feet. Made of reinforced concrete and embellished with over six million tiles, this statue is recognized as the world's most prominent Art Deco figure. Despite weather challenges, like lightning strikes, it remains steadfast, only once suffering damage to Jesus's right thumb in 2014. From almost any location in Rio, its silhouette can be discerned, providing incredible views and drawing both believers and admirers. Its significance and beauty rightfully earn it a place among the world's most revered landmarks.

Final Thoughts

Is it possible that in our lifetimes we will witness the construction of a new wonder? Many point at mesmerizing sights like the Burj Khalifa or the Hoover Dam but it is hard to disagree that they do not quite fit the theme of antiquity and reverence. Perhaps modernity is incompatible with the concept, and the list will remain literally locked in stone. Or, future classrooms will pour over infographics detailing the "8 wonders" in a development yet to come. Regardless, we can all be thankful that we have a world history worth celebrating.

Map Showing New 7 Wonders Of The World

New7Wonders of the world map
Map showing the locations of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

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