When I hear the phrase "wonders of the world", it captures my imagination and sends my mind back to antiquity. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were designated that way following the travels of Hellenic tourists throughout the known world. The list of wonders we are familiar with today was created by Antipater of Sidon, a Greek-speaking epigrammist, in around 140 BC.
In the year 2000, an enormous, worldwide poll was conducted to establish the New Seven Wonders of the World. Ending in 2007, over 100 million votes were cast by telephone or over the internet. With regard to the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, there is no consensus as to what the wonders for inclusion actually should be, however, the most commonly-referenced list was compiled by the international news network, CNN. Last but not least, the New Seven Wonders of the Natural World were established following the publication of results from a worldwide poll, which ran from 2007 to 2011. Enjoy all 28 of these spectacular world wonders in this interactive map, which includes videos of all of them, that I've made just for you:
Instructions: On the top left of the map are the color codes for the 4 different kinds of world wonders. Clicking on any of the colored points on the map will bring up a video about this world wonder. Below the map you will find additional information about each of the 28 world wonders on the map and in the videos. Enjoy!
YELLOW: 7 Wonders of the Ancient World
1. Great Pyramid of Giza
Date of Completion: 2561 BC
The Great Pyramid is the only extant wonder of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It’s also by far the oldest. It is the resting place of ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Khufu. One of the most astounding facts about the pyramid is that it was the tallest structure in the world for over 3,800 years.
2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Country: Modern-day Iraq (existence unverified)
Date of Completion: Circa 600 BC
Although concrete proof of their existence has never been found, many believe that the Hanging Gardens were real. Tiered gardens are said to have stood atop one another, watered by an ingeniously complex irrigation system. It supposedly rose like an oasis out of the desert sand beneath it.
3. Lighthouse of Alexandria
Date of Completion: Circa 280 BC
The Alexandrian lighthouse was actually the prototype lighthouse for all the world’s lighthouses constructed in subsequent millennia. Its light came from a furnace that burned at the top. It was damaged by earthquakes throughout the centuries, and was lost for good when the remaining stones were used for the construction of the Qaitbay Citadel.
4. Colossus of Rhodes
Type: Religious icon/statue
Date of Completion: 280 BC
This enormous statue is believed to have straddled the harbor at Rhodes, a Greek island. Standing almost 100 feet high, it was one of the tallest statues in the ancient world. Sadly, it stood for only approximately 50 years – it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC.
5. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Date of Completion: 350 BC
The word mausoleum, or above-ground tomb, is derived from the name of the man that this resting place once housed. His name was Mausolus, and he was a satrap (governor) in the Persian Empire. Subsequent earthquakes between the 12th and 15th Centuries led to the mausoleum’s eventual destruction.
6. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Type: Place of worship
Date of Completion: 550 BC
Dedicated to the ancient Greek goddess of hunting, wild animals and childbirth, Artemis, the temple was destroyed and reconstructed no less than three times throughout its turbulent history. After it fell for the last time in 401 AD, its ruins remained undiscovered until as late as 1869 – almost 1,400 years later.
7. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Type: Religious icon/statue
Date of Completion: 435 BC
The Statue of Zeus is purported to have stood some 43 feet tall, laden with ivory plates and gold panels. Zeus was the king of the gods in ancient Greek religion. The statue, which was housed in a temple also dedicated to the god, is thought to have been destroyed by a great fire in 425 AD.
BLUE: New Seven Wonders of the World
1. The Great Wall
Date of Completion: Circa 500 BC (first phase of wall); circa 1300 AD (Ming Dynasty-era wall)
While the Great Wall is generally referred to in the singular, it’s actually an enormous collection of different fortifications that measure a combined 13,171 miles. Even more fascinating is that the earliest sections of the Great Wall date back to the 8th Century BC, whereas its “newest” sections date back to the 14th Century AD.
Date of Completion: Circa 312 BC
This jewel remained completely unknown to the western world until as late as 1812. In its later history, the city was occupied by both the Romans and the Byzantines, however, the rise of nearby Palmyra as a trading hub is cited as one of the reasons for Petra’s decline and abandonment.
3. The Colosseum
Date of Completion: Circa 80 AD
The most easily-recognizable of all the Roman amphitheaters, the Colosseum was the venue for the most spectacular (and brutal) gladiatorial contests. Its complex maze of underground tunnels and walkways, where animals, gladiators and slaves were kept before the show commenced, is a truly stunning feat of engineering.
4. Chichén Itzá
Date of Completion: Circa 600 AD
Chichen Itza was one of the great Mayan cities that emerged at the height of Mesoamerican civilization. It was captured by the Spanish conquistadors in 1532, and this subsequently led to its decline and abandonment after much conflict. It re-emerged in the world’s consciousness thanks to explorer John Lloyd Stephens’ mid-19th-Century writings regarding his travels.
5. Machu Picchu
Date of Completion: Circa 1450 AD
Machu Picchu is believed to have been inhabited by the Incas for no more than 120 years. No one quite knows why the city was abandoned, however, some historians speculate that smallpox, as introduced by the conquistadors to the Americas, killed off the population despite there being no evidence for them discovering the remote city.
6. Taj Mahal
Date of Completion: 1653
This building is the finest example of Mughal architecture in existence in the world today. It’s also an exquisite expression of love – Emperor Shah Jahan had the mausoleum constructed as the final resting place for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
7. Christ the Redeemer
Type: Religious icon/statue
Date of Completion: 1931
Christ the Redeemer watches over the spectacular Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro from a height of 2,300 feet. He stands 98 feet tall and took nine years to complete. The statue was fashioned in the Art Deco architectural style.
GREEN: Seven Wonders of the Natural World
1. The Grand Canyon
Country: United States of America
Type: River canyon
One of the most recognizable natural sites in the United States is 277 miles long, 18 miles at its widest points and over a mile deep at its deepest. It is the result of 5 or 6 million years’ worth of erosion by the Colorado River.
2. Paricutin Volcano
This volcano sprouted from a Mexican cornfield back in 1943, and went on to become one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The first eruption marked the first time that modern science was able to document a geological event of this type. A 1391-foot-high cone was left over once the nine-year-long eruption had concluded.
3. Rio de Janeiro Harbor
Type: Natural harbor
When Portuguese explorer Goncalo Coelho first discovered Rio de Janeiro’s stunning natural harbor in 1501, he thought it was the mouth of an enormous river. What he had actually discovered was a balloon-shaped bay that stretched 20 miles inland. The name Rio de Janeiro actually means “January River”, and that’s where the city that straddles it gets its name from.
4. Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
Country: None specific, can be seen from Polar Regions
Type: Atmospheric anomaly
This beautiful natural phenomenon is actually the result of electrically-charged particles emitted by the sun colliding with gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere. Different gas molecules result in different colors becoming visible, for example, oxygen molecules make the Northern Lights appear a pale yellowish-green.
5. Victoria Falls
Although Victoria Falls is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it represents its largest sheet of falling water. It is the most notable feature along the Zambezi river, and its native name is Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means “the Smoke that Thunders”.
6. Mount Everest
The world’s highest peak was only conquered by man in 1953, and it has claimed the lives of many who have made unsuccessful attempts both before and since. It is 29,029 feet above sea level at its highest point, and is often referred to (quite fittingly) as the “top of the world”.
7. The Great Barrier Reef
Type: Coral reef
Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living thing, spanning over 1,400 miles from end to end. It runs along the north-eastern coast of Australia, and most of its length is protected by a designated marine park. Sadly, the Great Barrier Reef is extremely vulnerable to environmental pollution and climate change.
BLACK: New Seven Wonders of the Natural World
1. Amazon Rainforest
Colloquially referred to as the world’s lungs, the Amazon is the most biodiverse and largest rainforest in the world. It is home to no less than 390 billion trees, together with countless colorful (and deadly) animal species.
2. Iguazu Falls
The stunning beauty of this waterfall is what makes it deserving of its place on this list. It extends almost two miles from end to end. Two national parks, which are home to hundreds of endangered flora and fauna species, are located on either side of the waterfall.
3. Table Mountain
Country: South Africa
This flat-topped mountain provides the South African city of Cape Town with arguably the most dramatic backdrop for any city in the entire world. It stands 3,558 feet high, with its most distinctive feature being a plateau that measures some two miles long from side to side, offering breathtaking views of the city below.
4. Ha Long Bay
This incredible geological wonder has been featured in numerous Hollywood movies, and it’s not hard to see why. The main bay has 775 islets, and is home to 14 endemic floral and 60 endemic faunal species. It has also been home to various cultures since as early as 18,000 BC.
5. Puerto Princesa Underground River
Country: The Philippines
Type: Subterranean river
Stretching no less than 15 miles under the limestone karst above it, this underground river is navigable by boat up to 2.7 miles in from the point of entry. Until as recently as 2007, it was believed to be the world’s longest underground river.
6. Komodo Island
This island is home to real-life dragons, more specifically the Komodo dragon, which is the world’s largest lizard. It also boasts one of only seven beaches in the entire world with pink sand. Some 2,000 people live there, many of whom are descended from banished convicts.
7. Jeju Island
Country: South Korea
Located in the Korea Strait, which is a sea passage that connects the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan, Jeju Island is a treasure for scientists because of its extensive system of lava tubes, or lateral volcanoes. Furthermore, the island has three climates and is extremely biodiverse, with no less than 33 endemic floral species present.