Wonders of the World

Wonders of the World

Various lists of the Wonders of the World have been compiled from antiquity to the present day, to catalogue the world's most spectacular natural wonders and manmade structures.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the first known list of the most remarkable creations of classical antiquity, and was based on guide-books popular among Hellenic sight-seers and only includes works located around the Mediterranean rim. The number seven was chosen because the Greeks believed it to be the representation of perfection and plenty.[1] Many similar lists have been made.


Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Great Pyramid of Giza, the only wonder of the ancient world still in existence
The Colosseum in Rome
The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights
The London sewerage system's original Abbey Mills pumping station

The historian Herodotus (484 – ca. 425 BCE), and the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene (ca. 305 – 240 BCE) at the Museum of Alexandria, made early lists of seven wonders but their writings have not survived, except as references. The seven wonders included:

The earliest lists had the Ishtar Gate as the seventh wonder of the world instead of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The list known today was compiled in the Middle Ages—by which time many of the sites were no longer in existence. Today, the only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Medieval World

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some writers wrote about 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. However it is unlikely that these lists originated in the Middle Ages because the word medieval was not invented until the Enlightenment-era, and the concept of a Middle Age did not become popular until the 16th century. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable refers to them as "later list[s]"[2] suggesting the lists were created after the Middle Ages.

Many of the structures on these lists were built much earlier than the Medieval Ages, but were well known.[3]

Typically representative are:[2][3][4][5]

Other sites sometimes included on such lists:

Recent lists

Following in the tradition of the classical list, modern people and organisations have made their own lists of wonderful things ancient and modern. 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:[10]

Wonder Date started Date finished Location
Channel Tunnel December 1, 1987 May 6, 1994 Strait of Dover, between the United Kingdom and France
CN Tower February 6, 1973 June 26, 1976, tallest freestanding structure in the world 1976–2007. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Empire State Building January 22, 1930 May 1, 1931, Tallest structure in the world 1931–1967. First building with 100+ stories. New York, NY, U.S.
Golden Gate Bridge January 5, 1933 May 27, 1937 Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, U.S.
Itaipu Dam January 1970 May 5, 1984 Paraná River, between Brazil and Paraguay
Delta Works/ Zuiderzee Works 1920 May 10, 1997 Netherlands
Panama Canal January 1, 1880 January 7, 1914 Isthmus of Panama

New7Wonders Foundation

In 2001 an initiative was started by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation to choose the New7Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments.[11] Twenty-one finalists were announced January 1, 2006.[12] Egyptians were not happy that the only surviving original wonder, the Great Pyramid of Giza, would have to compete with the likes of the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, and other landmarks, calling the project absurd. In response, Giza was named an honorary Candidate.[13] The results were announced on July 7, 2007, in Lisbon, Portugal :[14]

Wonder Date of construction Location
Great Wall of China 5th century BCE – 16th century CE China
Petra c.100 BCE Jordan
Christ the Redeemer Opened 12 October 1931 Brazil
Machu Picchu c.1450 CE Peru
Chichen Itza c.600 CE Mexico
Colosseum Completed 80 CE Italy
Taj Mahal Completed c.1648 CE India
Great Pyramid of Giza (Honorary Candidate) Completed c.2560 BCE Egypt

USA Today's New Seven Wonders

In November 2006 the American national newspaper USA Today in conjunction with the American television show Good Morning America revealed a list of New Seven Wonders as chosen by six judges.[15] The wonders were announced one per day over a week on Good Morning America. An eighth wonder was chosen on November 24, 2006 from viewer feedback.[16]

Number Wonder Location
1 Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet, China
2 Old City of Jerusalem Jerusalem[n 1]
3 Polar ice caps Polar regions
4 Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Hawaii, United States
5 Internet Earth
6 Mayan ruins Yucatán Peninsula, México
7 Great Migration of Serengeti and Masai Mara Tanzania and Kenya
8 Grand 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, and there has been debate over how large the list should be. One of the many existing lists was compiled by CNN:[17]

New7Wonders of Nature (2007-11), a contemporary effort to create a list of seven natural wonders chosen through a global poll, was organized by the same group as the New7Wonders of the World campaign.

The Seven Natural Wonders[18] is a not-for-profit endeavor created to protect the seven natural wonders that have already been established.

Seven Wonders of the Underwater World

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, star of TV's Sea Hunt:[19]

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

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. In 2003 the BBC made a seven-part documentary series on the book, with each episode dramatising the construction of one of the wonders. The seven industrial wonders are:

Other lists of wonders of the world

Numerous other authors and organisations have composed lists of the wonders of the world. Travel writer Howard Hillman published two books on the subject, one with 10 man-made wonders, and one with 10 natural wonders.[20][21] British biographer, science writer, and novelist Ronald W. Clark published a book of man-made and natural wonders titled Wonders of the World, which lists 52 wonders, one for each week of the year.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Both the USA Today article and the Good Morning America broadcast described this wonder as "Jerusalem's Old City, Israel." However states and scholars alike are divided over the legal status of Jerusalem under international law. See Positions on Jerusalem.


  1. ^ Anon. (1993)The Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia First Edition Oxford:Oxford University
  2. ^ a b I H Evans (reviser), Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Centenary edition Fourth impression (corrected); London: Cassell, 1975), page 1163
  3. ^ 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, page 14.
  4. ^ Edward Latham. A Dictionary of Names, Nicknames and Surnames, of Persons, Places and Things (1904), page 280.
  5. ^ Francis Trevelyan Miller, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt. America, the Land We Love (1915), page 201.
  6. ^ Palpa, as You Like it, page 67)
  7. ^ The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Crusades (2001, page 153))
  8. ^ The Rough Guide To England (1994, page 596))
  9. ^ The Catholic Encyclopedia, v.16 (1913), page 74
  10. ^ "American Society of Civil Engineers Seven Wonders". Asce.org. 2010-07-19. http://www.asce.org/Content.aspx?id=2147487305. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  11. ^ New Seven Wonders[dead link]
  12. ^ Finalist Page[dead link]
  13. ^ "Egypt Angered at New Wonders Idea". Home.bellsouth.net. 1985-01-01. http://home.bellsouth.net/s/editorial.dll?eetype=Article&eeid=5356431&render=y&ck=&Table=&_lid=332&_lnm=todays+guide+onnet+sevenwonders+tglink&ck=. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  14. ^ "''Reuters via ABC News Australia "Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled" 7 July 2007". Abc.net.au. 2007-07-08. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/08/1972797.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  15. ^ "New Seven Wonders panel". Usatoday.com. 2006-10-27. http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2006-10-26-seven-wonders-experts_x.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  16. ^ Clark, Jayne (2006-12-22). "The world's 8th wonder: Readers pick the Grand Canyon". Usatoday.com. http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2006-11-23-7-wonders-grand-canyon_x.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  17. ^ "CNN Natural Wonders". Cnn.com. 1997-11-11. http://www.cnn.com/TRAVEL/DESTINATIONS/9711/natural.wonders/. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  18. ^ "Seven Natural Wonders". Sevennatualwonders.org. http://www.sevennatualwonders.org/. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  19. ^ "Underwater Wonders of the World". Wonderclub. http://www.wonderclub.com/WorldWonders/UnderWaterWonders.html/. Retrieved 2010-08-31. 
  20. ^ Hillman, Howard. "World's top 10 man-made travel wonders". Hillman Quality Publications. http://www.hillmanwonders.com/top10/man_made.htm#_vtop. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  21. ^ Hillman, Howard. "World's top 10 natural travel wonders". Hillman Quality Publications. http://www.hillmanwonders.com/top10/natural.htm#_vtop. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  22. ^ Clark, Ronald W. (1980). Wonders of the World. Artus Publishing Company Ltd. ISBN 978-0668049320. 

Further reading

  • Ash, Russell, "Great Wonders of the World". Dorling Kindersley. 2000. ISBN 978-0751328868
  • Cox, Reg, and Neil Morris, "The Seven Wonders of the Modern World". Chelsea House Publications: Library. October 2000. ISBN 0-7910-6048-9
  • Cox, Reg, Neil Morris, and James Field, "The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World". Chelsea House Publications: Library. October 2000. ISBN 0-7910-6047-0
  • D'Epiro, Peter, and Mary Desmond Pinkowish, "What Are the Seven Wonders of the World? and 100 Other Great Cultural Lists". Anchor. December 1, 1998. ISBN 0-385-49062-3
  • Morris, Neil, "The Seven Wonders of the Natural World". Chrysalis Books. December 30, 2002. ISBN 1-84138-495-X

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