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Wonders of the World

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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom): Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (also known as the Mausoleum of Mausolus), Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria as depicted by 16th-century Dutch artist Maarten van Heemskerck.
Map of places listed in various Wonders of the World lists

Various lists of the Wonders of the World have been compiled from antiquity to the present day, in order to catalogue the world's most spectacular natural features and human-built structures.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the oldest known list of this type, documenting the most remarkable human-made creations of classical antiquity; it was based on guidebooks popular among Hellenic sightseers and as such only includes works located around the Mediterranean rim and in the ancient Near East. The number seven was chosen because the Greeks believed it represented perfection and plenty, and because it reflected the number of planets known in ancient times (five) plus the Sun and Moon.[1]

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Great Pyramid of Giza, the only wonder of the ancient world still in existence

The Greek historian Herodotus (484 – c. 425 BC) and the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene (c. 305–240 BC), at the Museum of Alexandria, made early lists of seven wonders. These lists have not survived, however, except as references in other writings.

The classic Seven Wonders were:

Lists from other eras

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some writers emulated the classical list by creating their own lists with names such as "Wonders of the Middle Ages", "Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages", "Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind", and "Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages".[2] It is unlikely that any of these lists actually originated in the Middle Ages since the concept of a "Middle Age" did not become popular until at least the 16th century and the word "medieval" was not invented until the Enlightenment era. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable refers to them as "later list[s]",[3] suggesting the lists were created after the Middle Ages.

Many of the structures on these lists were built much earlier than the Middle Ages but were well known throughout the world.[4][5] Typically representative of such lists are:[3][4][6][7]

Other structures sometimes included on such lists include:

Recent lists

Following in the tradition of the classical list, modern people and organisations have made their own lists of wonderful things, both ancient and modern, natural and artificial. Some of the most notable lists are presented below.

American Society of Civil Engineers

CN Tower in Toronto, Canada

In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers compiled a list of Seven Wonders of the Modern World, paying tribute to the "greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century".[11][12]

American Society of Civil Engineers Wonders
Wonder Date started Date finished Location Significance
Channel Tunnel December 1, 1987 May 6, 1994 Strait of Dover, in the English Channel between the United Kingdom and France Longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world
CN Tower February 6, 1973 June 26, 1976 Toronto, Ontario, Canada Tallest freestanding structure in the world from 1976 to 2007
Empire State Building March 17, 1930 April 11, 1931 New York City, New York, United States Tallest structure in the world from 1931 to 1954; tallest freestanding structure in the world from 1931 to 1967; tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1970; first building with 100+ stories
Golden Gate Bridge January 5, 1933 May 27, 1937 Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, United States Longest main span of any suspension bridge in the world from 1937 to 1964
Itaipu Dam January 1970 May 5, 1984 Paraná River, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay Largest operating hydroelectric facility in the world in terms of annual energy generation[13]
Netherlands North Sea Protection Works (Delta and Zuiderzee Works) 1920 May 10, 1997 Zeeland, South Holland, North Holland, Friesland and Flevoland, Netherlands Largest hydraulic engineering project undertaken by the Netherlands during the 20th century
Panama Canal January 1, 1880 January 7, 1914 Isthmus of Panama Allows passage of oceangoing vessels between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken

USA Today's New Seven Wonders

Old City of Jerusalem

In November 2006, the American national newspaper USA Today and the American television show Good Morning America revealed a list of the "New Seven Wonders", both natural and human-made, as chosen by six judges.[14] The Grand Canyon was added as an eighth wonder on November 24, 2006, in response to viewer feedback.[15]

USA Today's New Seven Wonders
Wonder Location
Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet
Old City of Jerusalem Israel[n 1]
Polar ice caps Earth's polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic)
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Hawaii, United States
The Internet Worldwide
Mayan ruins Yucatán Peninsula, México
Great Migration of Serengeti and Masai Mara Tanzania and Kenya
Grand Canyon (viewer-chosen eighth wonder) Arizona, United States

Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Victoria Falls

Similar to the other lists of wonders, there is no consensus on a list of seven natural wonders of the world, and there has been debate over how large such a list should be. One of many existing versions of this list was compiled by CNN in 1997:[16]

New 7 Wonders of the World

El Castillo at Chichen Itza

In 2001, an initiative was started by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments through online votes.[17] The Great Pyramid of Giza—part of the Giza Pyramids, the only remaining wonder of the traditional Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was not one of the winners announced in 2007 but was added as an honorary candidate.[18][19]

Wonder Date of construction Present-day location
Great Wall of China Since 7th century BC[20] China
Petra c. 100 BC Ma'an, Jordan
Christ the Redeemer opened to the public October 12, 1931 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Machu Picchu c. AD 1450 Urubamba Province, Peru
Chichen Itza c. AD 600 Yucatán, Mexico
Colosseum completed AD 80 Rome, Italy
Taj Mahal completed c. AD 1648 Agra, India
Giza Pyramids (honorary candidates) completed c. 2560 BC Giza, Egypt

New 7 Wonders of Nature

Jeju Island

A similar contemporary effort to create a list of seven natural (as opposed to human-made) wonders chosen through a global poll, called the New 7 Wonders of Nature, was organized from 2007 to 2011 by the same group as the New 7 Wonders of the World campaign.

New 7 Wonders Cities

Calle Crisologo, Vigan City

New 7 Wonders Cities, a third list organized by New7Wonders and determined by another global vote, includes entire cities:

Seven Wonders of the Underwater World

The Great Barrier Reef

The list of "Seven Wonders of the Underwater World" was drawn up by CEDAM International, an American-based non-profit group for divers that is dedicated to ocean preservation and research. In 1989, CEDAM brought together a panel of marine scientists, including Eugenie Clark, to choose underwater areas which they considered worthy of protection. The results were announced at The National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., by actor Lloyd Bridges, star of TV's Sea Hunt:[21]

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

Bell Rock Lighthouse

British author Deborah Cadbury wrote Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, a book telling the stories of seven great feats of engineering of the 19th and early 20th centuries.[22] In 2003, the BBC aired a seven-part docudrama exploring the same feats, with Cadbury as a producer.[23]

Wonder Description Completed
SS Great Eastern British oceangoing passenger steamship 1858
Bell Rock Lighthouse in the North Sea off the coast of Angus, Scotland 1810
Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, New York, United States 1883
London sewerage system serving London, England 1870
First transcontinental railroad 1,912-mile (3,077 km) continuous railroad line connecting existing rail networks in Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California in the United States 1869
Panama Canal 51-mile (82 km) artificial waterway crossing the Isthmus of Panama and connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans 1914
Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, spanning the border between Nevada and Arizona in the United States 1936

Seven Wonders of the Solar System


In a 1999 article, Astronomy magazine listed the "Seven Wonders of the Solar System". This article was later made into a video.[24]

Other lists of wonders of the world

Many authors and organisations have composed lists of the wonders of the world that have been published in book or magazine form.

Seven Wonders of the World is a 1956 film in which Lowell Thomas searches the world for natural and artificial wonders and invites the audience to try to update the ancient Wonders of the World list.

See also


  1. ^ Both the USA Today article and the Good Morning America broadcast described this wonder as "Jerusalem's Old City, Israel." The Old City is located in East Jerusalem, which is claimed by both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. The UN and most countries do not recognize Israel's claim to East Jerusalem, taking the position that the final status of Jerusalem is pending future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. See Positions on Jerusalem for more information.


  1. ^ Anon. (1993). The Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia (First ed.). Oxford: Oxford University.
  2. ^ "The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World"
  3. ^ a b Evans, I H (reviser (1975). Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Centenary edition Fourth impression (corrected) ed.). London: Cassell. p. 1163.
  4. ^ a b Hereward Carrington (1880–1958). The Seven Wonders of the World: ancient, medieval and modern, reprinted in the Carington Collection (2003). ISBN 0-7661-4378-3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Carrington, Hereward (September 2010). The Carrington Collection. Kessinger. ISBN 9781169692169. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  6. ^ Latham, Edward (1904). A Dictionary of Names, Nicknames and Surnames, of Persons, Places and Things. p. 280. OCLC 01038938.
  7. ^ Miller, Francis Trevelyan (1915). America, the Land We Love. p. 201. OCLC 00334597. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020. Excerpts from speeches by Woodrow Wilson, William H. Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt.
  8. ^ The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Crusades. 2001. p. 153.
  9. ^ Herbermann, Charles George, ed. (1913). Cluny Abbey. Vol. 4. p. 73. OCLC 06974688. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  10. ^ The Rough Guide To England. 1994. p. 596.
  11. ^ "American Society of Civil Engineers Seven Wonders". ASCE.org. July 19, 2010. Archived from the original on August 2, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  12. ^ American Society of Civil Engineers. "Seven Wonders of the Modern World". ASCE.org. Archived from the original on April 2, 2010.
  13. ^ "USGS: Three Gorges Dam is bigger than Itaipu Dan but annual output is about the same because of river variability". Archived from the original on April 27, 2020. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  14. ^ "New Seven Wonders panel". USA Today. October 27, 2006. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  15. ^ Clark, Jayne (December 22, 2006). "The world's 8th wonder: Readers pick the Grand Canyon". USA Today. Archived from the original on June 19, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  16. ^ "Natural Wonders". CNN. November 11, 1997. Archived from the original on July 21, 2006. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  17. ^ "The multimedia campaign to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World is in its final stage". New7Wonders. Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  18. ^ "Egypt's pyramids out of seven wonders contest". Daily News Egypt. April 20, 2007. Archived from the original on June 25, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  19. ^ "Reuters via ABC News Australia "Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled" 7 July 2007". Australia: ABC. July 8, 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  20. ^ "Great Wall of China". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  21. ^ "Underwater Wonders of the World". Wonderclub. Archived from the original on June 13, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  22. ^ Kumar, Manjit (November 7, 2003). "Review: Seven Wonders of the Industrial World by Deborah Cadbury". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  23. ^ Cadbury, Deborah (February 17, 2011). "British History in Depth: Seven Wonders of the Industrial World". Archived from the original on December 27, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  24. ^ "Seven Wonders of the Solar System Video". Aaa.org. 1999. Archived from the original on April 1, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2014.

External links