You’ve probably read or heard about the 7 Wonders of The World, but have you ever stopped and wondered ‘what exactly are these wonders?’ There are so many different lists and interpretations of these landmarks, however, there is now just one official list of New 7 Wonders!
If you search the internet, you’ll see endless lists of so-called world wonders. There are wonders of the natural world, the ancient world and even wonders of the solar system. Then there are the different list from different magazine and publications. So which one is the real one?
A world wonder should be a site or landmark that takes our breath away. It should also manmade and inspire us with its incredible construction. That’s what the original 7 wonders were anyway!
The 7 Wonders Of The Ancient World
The original list of 7 wonders dates back to Ancient Greece when many civilisations such as Egyptian and Persian were conquered by legendary commanders. Greek travellers were able to explore these regions and some even listed the ones that stood out.
The list of sites developed into a type of ancient travel guidebook and seven places were established as the must-see landmarks in the world. This was not entirely accurate since ‘the world’ was only Greece, the Mediterranean and the Middle East at the time!
The 7 wonders of the ancient ‘world’ were the Great Pyramid Of Piza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Temple of Artemis.
If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard about these it’s because most of the sites were destroyed by earthquakes or fires. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only surviving ancient wonder today while there is speculation that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon never existed at all!
The New 7 Wonders Of The World
In the year 2000 New7Wonders Foundation began a campaign to establish a new list of wonders. An initial selection of around 200 landmarks was trimmed down to just 28 finalists by the foundation panel in 2006. It was then the public’s turn to vote!
Not everybody supported the need for a new list of wonders, and some countries distanced themselves from the campaign altogether. Others promoted their country’s site knowing they would receive a welcome boost in tourism should they win.
In 2007, the New 7 Wonders Of The World were announced.
Taj Mahal – India
The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful and recognisable buildings in the world. The Taj is a grand, white-marble mausoleum built as a symbol of love as well as a show of power by a Mughal Emperor.
The mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan for his third, and favourite, wife Mumtaz Mahal. It was commissioned in 1632, a year after Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to their 14th child! Construction took around 20 years and cost approx 70 billion Indian Rupees ($900 million!)
It took over 20,000 workers from India, Persia and Europe as well as 1000 elephants to complete the Taj. The marble was purchased from surrounding regions and countries including Sri Lanka and China. It’s impossible to guess how much white marble was used in total!
Around 7-8 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year including the rich and famous. Princess Diana had a notable visit in 1992 and her son Prince William followed in her footsteps in 2016. Other celebrities include Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio and, erm, Donald Trump!
The Taj Mahal was one of the most stunning things I had seen. It’s possibly the most beautiful of all the New 7 Wonders. Yes, you have to go all the way to India and it can be a bit of a culture shock. But if you’re like me then you’ll love exploring this colourful and diverse sub-continent.
Petra – Jordan
The spectacular rose-red city of Petra in Jordan is probably one of the most famous sights in the world. Most people know about the Treasury and the Monastery (two beautiful buildings carved right into the rock face) but there is so much more to Petra.
The ancient city was probably built as early as the 4th century BC and was home to the Nabataeans – a nomadic tribe with advanced engineering and trading skills. As Petra’s wealth grew over time, due to its location as a trade hub, the Nabataeans carved their mark into the stone.
The city covers an area of over 250 million km²! Just the walk to the Treasury through the Siq can take up to one hour! As you walk through Petra you’ll see buildings and temples from different eras such as the Roman and Byzantine Empire. You’ll also see many tombs and caves that were once inhabited by early Nabataeans.
Petra has now been featured in many movies including Aladdin, Transformers and, of course, Indiana Jones. The ancient city’s popularity means that people often visit Petra on short day trips from their cruise ships. These guys are missing out as I believe Petra deserves more time than just a couple of hours.
Travelling through Jordan and exploring this ancient city was definitely one of my most memorable experiences. The country is full of incredible sights and the people, culture and food really make Jordan a top destination to visit. And not just for its stunning wonder.
Colosseum – Italy
The Colosseum is the only one of the new 7 wonders located in Europe so it’s no surprise that it’s the most visited. The location makes it one of the most accessible sights on the list and the city of Rome is the perfect place for a few days of exploration.
The Flavian amphitheatre was built by the Romans around 70-80AD and could hold up to 80,000 spectators. Known mainly for the gladiator fights, the Colosseum was also used for animal hunts and famous battle re-enactments.
You can purchase an audio guide for your visit but hiring a real tour guide will greatly enhance your experience. If you’re interested in exploring more of the Colosseum you can take special underground tours and also tours of the upper levels. You can even take a crowd-free tour of the Colosseum at night.
I’ve been to Rome twice and absolutely love the place! There are so many sights around the city like the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and Vatican City. It’s a great place to spend a few days or more and just soak in the legendary history.
Read More | Rome | The Ultimate 3 Day Itinerary
Machu Picchu – Peru
Machu Picchu in Peru was at the top of my list bucket list for many years. It is probably the world wonder most travellers want to see because of its beautiful, majestic mountain setting.
The citadel was built by the Incas around 1450AD and sits over 2000 metres high on a mountain ridge. Unfortunately, the city was abandoned a century later when the conquistadors colonised the Americas. The site was only known to locals until American professor/explorer Hiram Bingham ‘rediscovered’ it in 1911.
The Incas were masonry geniuses and used a technique called ashlar that was so precise that you couldn’t even fit a knife blade between the stones. The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire meant that we will never know what Machu Picchu’s true purpose was. Many believe that it was built as a royal estate for the Incan Emperor Pachacuti.
As stunning as the ancient citadel is, the only real way to fully appreciate Machu Picchu is by hiking the Inca Trail with a guide to learn the amazing history of the legendary Incas. This 4-day trail takes you through the Andes mountain range, passing some of the old Inca ruins on the way as well as a 4200m high mountain pass!
The trail is not so difficult although you should be at a certain level of fitness to handle all those stairs on day 2! If you’re lucky, you’ll be one of the first people to arrive at Machu Picchu at sunrise on day 4.
This world wonder is just one of the many incredible things to see and do in Peru. Other things to do in Peru include the Colca Canyon, Cusco & the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca and trips to the Amazon!
Chichén Itzá – Mexico
The ancient city of Chichén Itzá is perhaps one of the least known of the New 7 Wonders. Yet, due to its location near Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it still sees nearly 3 million visitors per year. That puts Chichén Itzá ahead of Edinburgh Castle, the Arc de Triomphe and Machu Picchu!!
Archaeologists believe that the Mayan city’s first settlers arrived in 600 AD and then grew in size and stature over the next few centuries. During its peak, Chichén Itzá was the most populated city in the Yucatan Peninsula with great economic power until the city’s decline around 1200 AD.
When the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s they discovered that the city was still thriving. Much of the political and economic power however now belonged to the city of Mayapan. Chichén Itzá was the temporary capital for the conquistadors until it became a cattle ranch and eventually forgotten altogether.
In the 1840’s American explorer John Lloyd Stephens rediscovered the ancient site and this led to a series of excavations and restorations.
During my visit to Chichén Itzá, I couldn’t help but think of the Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto! Even if the human sacrifice scenes were not so accurate (more Aztec than Mayan) a lot of the movie supposedly was!
The ruins cover quite a large area so I highly recommend a decent guide to get the most out of your visit. One highlight you can’t miss is El Castillo, the large pyramid in the centre of Chichén Itzá. Other sites not to miss include the Sacred Cenote and the Great Ball Court.
Christ The Redeemer – Brazil
Christ The Redeemer (or the Statue of Christ) in Rio de Janeiro was built after the first World War when religious organisations were worried about the state of society’s ‘Godlessness’. It was completed in 1931 and took nine years to construct the 30-metre high statue.
Its place among the New 7 Wonders is slightly controversial. The reason being that Brazilian corporate sponsors spent millions to get the statue voted onto the new list. Phone networks even let the public vote for the monument, free of charge!
In comparison to the other wonders, which were built centuries (or millennia) ago, the simple statue is not as highly regarded in terms of its engineering or design. It’s not the world’s largest Jesus statue and it wasn’t even made in Brazil! The designer, Paul Landowski, was French and the pieces were made in France before being shipped to Brazil.
You can argue whether or not the Statue of Christ is worthy of its place on the list of New 7 Wonders but there’s no denying that it’s still a cool landmark that’s worthy of a visit. The statue is the icon of Rio de Janeiro and is a remains a symbol of Christianity throughout the world.
Sitting on top of Corcovado Mountain, Christ the Redeemer overlooks Rio and can be seen from all over the city. I certainly enjoyed the breathtaking views over Rio and it’s the perfect place to start your Brazil visit. Make sure you see the statue but don’t leave without experiencing the incredible nature on offer.
Great Wall Of China – China
The Great Wall Of China is the only manmade object that can be seen from space! Or so we were told. Nobody mentioned that we needed a zoom lens and stay in low orbit!
The Great Wall is not just one giant wall though. Many state walls in China were built as early as 700 BC. In 221 BC, the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, joined many of the walls together to protect his new dynasty from northern invaders.
Expansion and rebuilding of the walls continued over the centuries until 1878 when the Qing Dynasty deemed the wall to be unnecessary as their vast territory went beyond the wall. The Great Wall ended up being nearly 22,000 km long (13,000 miles) and took around 2,500 years to construct!
To see the wall you can take a day trip from Beijing. You’ll also likely be sharing that section of the wall with thousands of tourists. The Badaling Wallis the closest to Beijing and see up to 80,000 visitors per day!
With so much of the wall to explore, you’re better off visiting a less explored section. Taking on an overnight hike with a stay in a local guesthouse is an amazing experience when compared to a toboggan ride. Although I’d be happy with both!
How Many New 7 Wonders Have You Seen?
One? Two? Some of you may have even seen one without realising it was a wonder!
To be fair to you guys, the list has only been around since 2007 so it’s not a lot of time to achieve all your lifetime bucket list goals. Without realising it, I had already been to a couple before I made it my mission to see all seven!
They were all remarkable in one way or another but the best part of these visits was the unforgettable experiences I had whilst travelling to those countries. After all, we’ll never know if the Ancient Greeks would have approved of the 7 winners so don’t just see the sites, experience them!
So there you have it. You now know what the New 7 Wonders of the World are and where to find them. If you liked this post, or want to know more about our experience, then please leave a comment. Thanks!