In this series, Cruickshank takes a five-month world tour visiting his choices of the eighty greatest man-made treasures, including buildings and artifacts. His tour takes him through 34 countries and 6 of the 7 continents (he does not visit Antarctica). He did not visit Iraq due to the dangerous state of the country at the time.
A tie-in book of the same title was also published, written as a journal during the trip and containing much behind-the-scenes detail on the making of the programme in addition to Cruikshank's reflections on the treasures themselves.
Cruickshank's fondness of architecture is evident, with many of his chosen treasures being buildings or other man-made structures.
The official BBC DVD of the series was released on 19 May 2008. Licenses for DVD releases have been sold to many countries around the world.
The UKTV channel Eden frequently repeats the series. However episodes are edited down to 46 minutes, to allow for commercials to be shown in the one-hour time slot.
Moai, large monolithic statues with oversized heads created by the Rapanui people between 1200 and 1700 CE. The picture shows a group of Moai buried to their shoulders on the outer slopes of Rano Raraku.
Gold elephant kneeling with a howdah found in the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana, Ayutthaya. A beautifully finished masterpiece of the goldsmith's art. Studded and encrusted with gems. Made in about 1420, the same time as the tower in which it was found. National Museum, Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Flatland-mountain Japanese castle complex located in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture and comprising 83 wooden buildings. It is occasionally known as ("White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior. It was rebuilt more than 400 years ago.
A Zen temple located in northwest Kyoto, Japan. Belonging to the Myoshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism, the temple is one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang the First Emperor of China. The terracotta figures were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers near Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China near the Mausouleum of the second Ming Emperor.
In Hinduism, the Goddess Durga is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having ten arms, riding a lion or a tiger, carrying weapons (including a lotus flower), maintaining a meditative smile, and practicing mudras, or symbolic hand gestures.
This giant Buddha was created in the 1180s and he measures about forty metres, carved in very hard granite out of the cliff face behind. With his robes wrapped round his body, his head reclining on a pillow.
According to Sri Lankan legends, when the Buddha died, his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre at Kusinara in India and his left canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre by Arahat Khema. Khema then gave it to King Brahmadatte for veneration. It became a royal possession in Brahmadatte's country and was kept in the city of Dantapuri (present day Puri in Orissa).
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple Tamil: is a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord) and his consort, Goddess Parvati (in the form of Meenakshi).
Samarkand is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Province. The use of tiles unifies Samarkand's great buildings, gives them distinct and powerful architectural character.
The Baku Ateshgah or "Fire Temple" is a castle-like religious structure in Surakhani, a suburb of greater Baku, Azerbaijan. The pentagonal complex, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks and a tetrapillar-altar in the middle, was built during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Imam Mosque or Shah Mosque is a mosque in Isfahan (Esfahān), Iran. Built during the Safavids period, it is an excellent example of Islamic architecture of Iran, and regarded as the masterpiece of Persian Architecture.
The Persian carpet is an essential part of Persian art and culture. Carpet-weaving is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to ancient Persia. The Persian carpet was highly sought after in Europe from at least the Middle Ages.
One of over a hundred obelisks in the ancient town of Axum, built 1700 years ago. The tallest of the stelae measures 24 metres and weighs over 100 tonnes, making it the oldest erected obelisk in the ancient world.
The Lalibela Cross is a large, elaborately decorated cross, considered one of Ethiopia's most precious religious and historical heirlooms. It is held by the Bet Medhane Alem, the House of the Redeemer of the World, a 12th-century rock-cut church in Lalibela. A priest may rub believers with the cross to bless them or heal them.
The Great Mosque of Djenné is the largest mud brick or adobe building in the world and is considered by many architects to be the greatest achievement of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style, albeit with definite Islamic influences.
Leptis Magna, also known as Lectis Magna (or Lepcis Magna as it is sometimes spelled), also called Lpqy or Neapolis, was a prominent city of the Roman Empire. Its ruins are located in Al Khums, Libya, 130 km east of Tripoli, on the coast where the Wadi Lebda meets the sea.
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also called the Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt, and in a historical irony is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that survives substantially intact.
The Temple of Edfu is an ancient Egyptian temple located on the west bank of the Nile in the city of Edfu which was known in Greco-Roman times as Apollonopolis Magna, after the chief god Horus-Apollo. It is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt. The temple, dedicated to the falcon god Horus, was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 and 57 BCE.
Nefertari's tomb is closed to the public. Inside it are the most beautiful and best preserved wall paintings ever discovered in Egypt. The images here tell the story of Nefertari's journey after death, to the Underworld and then to rebirth.
Derinkuyu Underground City is located in the homonymous Derinkuyu district in Nevşehir Province, Turkey. It is on the road between Nevşehir and Niğde, at a distance of 29 km from Nevşehir. It was opened for visitors as of 1969 and to date, only ten percent of the underground city is accessible for tourists. Its eight floors extend at a depth of approximately 85 m.
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and to have "changed the history of architecture."
The Moscow Metro, which spans almost the entire Russian capital, is the world's second most heavily used metro system. Opened in 1935, it is well known for the ornate design of many of its stations, which contain outstanding examples of socialist realist art.
The cabin of Peter the Great is a small wooden house which was the first St Petersburg "palace" of Tsar Peter the Great. The log cabin was constructed in three days in May 1703, by soldiers of the Semyonovskiy Regiment.
Solovetsky Monastery was the greatest citadel of Christianity in the Russian North before being turned into a special Soviet prison and labor camp (1926–1939), which served as a prototype for the GULAG system.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. The mine had been in continuous operation, producing table salt since the 13th century until 2007 as one of the world's oldest operating salt mines (the oldest being in Bochnia, Poland, some 20 kilometers away from Wieliczka).
The Volkswagen Beetle, also known as the Volkswagen Type 1, was an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. It used an air cooled rear engined rear wheel drive (RR layout).