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Seven Wonders of the World


The Greek category to describe what people call "wonders" today was "theamata," which translates more like "must-sees." Even as early as 1600 B.C.E., tourist graffiti was scrawled on monuments in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. The mature list was compiled in the Middle Ages-by which time most of the sites were no longer in existence. Since the list came mostly from ancient Greek writings, only sites that would have been known and visited by the ancient Greeks were included. Sites from eastern Asia, the Americas, Africa, and northern Europe were thus omitted. Antipater's earlier list replaced the Lighthouse of Alexandria with the Babylon's famous Ishtar Gate.

It was not until the sixth century C.E. that the list above was used. Of these wonders, the only one that has survived to the present day is the Great Pyramid of Giza. One of wonders, the Temple of Artemis, was destroyed intentionally, first by arson and finally by a mob led by the Christian bishop St. John Chrysostom. The Statue of Zeus was destroyed by fire. Four of the wonders were destroyed by earthquakes-the Hanging Gardens, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Mausoleum of Maussollos. (The existence of the Hanging Gardens, however, has not been definitively proven.) There are sculptures from the Mausoleum of Maussollos and the Temple of Artemis in the British Museum in London.

Later lists

StonehengeThe Colosseum

Many lists of "wonders of the world" are said to have existed during the Middle Ages, although it is unlikely that these lists originated at that time. These lists go by names such as "Wonders of the Middle Ages" (implying no specific limitation to seven), "Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages," "Medieval Mind," and "Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages." Many of the structures on these lists were built much earlier than the Medieval Ages, but were well known. The lists are more properly seen as a continuing type or genre in the Seven Wonders tradition than a specific list.

The following is a typical representative of such lists:

  • Stonehenge
  • Colosseum
  • Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
  • Great Wall of China
  • Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa

Other sites that have been mentioned include:

  • Cairo Citadel
  • Ely Cathedral
  • Taj Mahal
  • Cluny Abbey

Modern lists

Many lists have been made of the greatest structures built during modern times or of the greatest wonders existing today. Some of the most notable lists are presented below.

American Society of Civil Engineers

The American Society of Civil Engineers compiled a list of wonders of the modern world:2

WonderDate StartedDate FinishedLocationsChannel TunnelDecember 1, 1987May 6, 1994Strait of Dover, between the United Kingdom and FranceCN TowerFebruary 6, 1973June 26, 1976, tallest land structure in the world until September 12, 2007. Surpassed by Burj DubaiToronto, Ontario, CanadaEmpire State BuildingJanuary 22, 1930May 1, 1931New York, NY, U.S.Golden Gate BridgeJanuary 5, 1933May 27, 1937Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, U.S.Itaipu DamJanuary 1970May 5, 1984Paraná River, between Brazil and ParaguayDelta Works1950May 10, 1997NetherlandsPanama CanalJanuary 1, 1880January 7, 1914Isthmus of Panama

New7Wonders Foundation's seven wonders of the world

Great Wall of ChinaThe Taj MahalMachu PichuThe Grand Canyon

In 2001, an initiative was started by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation to choose the New Seven Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments for profit.3 Twenty-one finalists were announced January 1, 2006.4 Egypt was not happy with the fact that the only original wonder would have to compete with the likes of the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, and other landmarks; and called the project absurd. To solve this, Giza was named an honorary Candidate.5 The results were announced on July 7 2007 in Benfica's stadium in a big ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal,6 and are:

WonderDate of constructionLocationGreat Wall of ChinaFifth century B.C.E. - sixteenth century CEChinaPetraSixth century B.C.E.JordanChrist the RedeemerOpened October 12, 1931BrazilMachu Picchuc. 1450PeruChichen Itzac. 600MexicoRoman ColosseumCompleted 80 C.E.ItalyTaj MahalCompleted c. 1648IndiaGreat Pyramid (Honorary Candidate)Completed c. 2560 B.C.E.Egypt

USA Today's New Seven Wonders

In November 2006, the American national newspaper, USA Today, in cooperation with the American television show, Good Morning America, revealed a list of New Seven Wonders as chosen by six judges.7 The wonders were announced one per day over a week on Good Morning America. An eighth wonder was chosen on November 24 from viewer feedback.8

NumberWonderLocation1Potala PalaceLhasa, Tibet, China2Old City of JerusalemJerusalem, Israel3Polar ice capsPolar regions4Papahānaumokuākea Marine National MonumentHawaii, United States5InternetN/A6Maya ruinsYucatán Peninsula, México7Great Migration of Serengeti and Masai MaraTanzania and Kenya8Grand Canyon (viewer-chosen eighth wonder)Arizona, United States

Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Similar to the other lists of wonders, there is no consensus on a list of seven natural wonders of the world, as there has been debate over how large the list should be. One of the many lists was compiled by CNN:9

  • Grand Canyon
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Harbour of Rio de Janeiro
  • Mount Everest
  • Aurora
  • Parícutin volcano
  • Victoria Falls

Seven wonders of the underwater world

An aerial photograph of the Great Barrier Reef

The Seven Underwater Wonders of the World was a list drawn up by CEDAM International, an American-based non-profit group for divers, dedicated to ocean preservation and research. In 1989, CEDAM brought together a panel of marine scientists, including Dr. Eugenie Clark, to pick underwater areas which they considered to be worthy of protection. The results were announced at The National Aquarium in Washington DC by actor Lloyd Bridges, who played in a TV show titled Sea Hunt:1011

  • Palau
  • Belize Barrier Reef
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Deep-Sea Vents
  • Galápagos Islands
  • Lake Baikal
  • Northern Red Sea

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

Schematic of the Panama Canal, illustrating the sequence of locks and passages

British author Deborah Cadbury wrote Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, a book telling the stories of seven great feats of engineering of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 2003 the BBC made a seven-part documentary series on the book, with each episode dramatising the construction one of the wonders. The seven industrial wonders are:

  • SS Great Eastern
  • Bell Rock Lighthouse
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • London sewerage system
  • First Transcontinental Railroad
  • Panama Canal
  • Hoover Dam

Travel wonders of the world

Travel writer Howard Hillman is one of many such writers who has compiled lists of the top man-made12 and natural13 tourist travel wonders of the world.

Man-made travel wonders

Forbidden City located in the center of Beijing, China
  1. Giza pyramid complex
  2. Great Wall of China
  3. Taj Mahal
  4. Machu Picchu
  5. Bali
  6. Angkor Wat
  7. Forbidden City
  8. Bagan Temples & Pagodas
  9. Karnak Temple
  10. Teotihuacán

Natural travel wonders

Victoria Falls, seen from the Zambian side.
  1. Serengeti Migration
  2. Galápagos Islands
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Iguazu Falls
  5. Amazon Rainforest
  6. Ngorongoro Crater
  7. Great Barrier Reef
  8. Victoria Falls
  9. Bora Bora
  10. Cappadocia


  1. ↑ John Freely, The Western Shores of Turkey: Discovering the Aegean and Mediterranean Coast. Retrieved October 29, 2008.
  2. ↑ American Society of Civil Engineers, Seven Wonders. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  3. ↑ New 7 Wonders, New Seven Wonders. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  4. ↑ New 7 Wonders, Finalist Page. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  5. ↑ Bell South, Egypt Angered at New Wonders Idea. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  6. ↑ ABC, Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  7. ↑ USA Today, New Seven Wonders panel. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  8. ↑ USA Today, The world's 8th wonder: Readers pick the Grand Canyon. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  9. ↑ CNN, CNN Natural Wonders. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  10. ↑ Unixl, Underwater Wonders of the World. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  11. ↑ Amiguitosdefrontera, 2nd list of Underwater Wonder. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  12. ↑ Howard Hillman, World's top 10 man-made travel wonders, Hillman Quality Publications. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  13. ↑ Howard Hillman, World's top 10 natural travel wonders, Hillman Quality Publications. Retrieved June 19, 2013.


  • Cox, Reg, and Neil Morris. The Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Chelsea House Publications, 2000. ISBN 0791060489.
  • Cox, Reg, Neil Morris, and James Field. The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World. Chelsea House Publications, 2000. ISBN 0791060470.
  • D'Epiro, Peter, and Mary Desmond Pinkowish. What Are the Seven Wonders of the World? and 100 Other Great Cultural Lists. Anchor, 1998. ISBN 0385490623.
  • Morris, Neil. The Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Chrysalis Books, 2002. ISBN 184138495X.

External links

All links retrieved November 2, 2019.

Seven Ancient Wonders

  • "Eternal wonder of humanity's first great achievements" by Jonathan Glancey, The Guardian.
  • Parkin, Tim, ed. Researching Ancient Wonders: A Research Guide (U. of Canterbury, New Zealand)

Other wonders