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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; it was based on guidebooks popular among Hellenic sightseers and only includes works located around the Mediterranean rim. The number seven was chosen because the Greeks believed it represented perfection and plenty, and because it was the number of the five planets known anciently, plus the sun and moon. Many similar lists have been made.

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. Their writings have not survived, except as references.

The classic seven wonders were:

The only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some writers wrote 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. 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]" 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.

Typically representative are:

Other sites sometimes included on such 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.


Wonder Date started Date finished Location Significance
Channel Tunnel December 1, 1987 May 6, 1994 Strait of Dover, between the United Kingdom and France The 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 1976–2007.
Empire State Building January 22, 1930 May 1, 1931 New York, NY, U.S. Tallest structure in the world 1931–1967. First building with 100+ stories.
Golden Gate Bridge January 5, 1933 May 27, 1937 Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, U.S. The longest suspension bridge main span in the world from 1937 to 1964.
Itaipu Dam January 1970 May 5, 1984 Paraná River, between Brazil and Paraguay The second largest operating hydroelectric facility in the world in terms of annual energy generation.
Delta Works/ Zuiderzee Works 1920 May 10, 1997 Netherlands The largest hydraulic engineering project undertaken by the Netherlands during the twentieth century.
Panama Canal January 1, 1880 January 7, 1914 Isthmus of Panama One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.
Number Wonder Location
1 Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet, China
2 Old City of Jerusalem Jerusalem
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
Wonder Date of construction Location
Great Wall of China Since 7th century BC China
Petra c. 100 BC Jordan
Christ the Redeemer Opened October 12, 1931 Brazil
Machu Picchu c. AD 1450 Peru
Chichen Itza c. AD 600 Mexico
Colosseum Completed AD 80 Italy
Taj Mahal Completed c. AD 1648 India
Great Pyramid of Giza (Honorary Candidate) Completed c. 2560 BC Egypt

  • Ash, Russell, "Great Wonders of the World". Dorling Kindersley. 2000.
  • Cox, Reg, and Neil Morris, "The Seven Wonders of the Modern World". Chelsea House Publications: Library. October 2000.
  • Cox, Reg, Neil Morris, and James Field, "The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World". Chelsea House Publications: Library. October 2000.
  • 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.
  • Morris, Neil, "The Seven Wonders of the Natural World". Chrysalis Books. December 30, 2002.
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