The Original Seven Wonders

Growing up, I always wanted to be a history teacher.  To this day there’s a fascination with the stories and logistics behind the events that have shaped our world.  As we all know, there’s often a great difference between reading and seeing something first hand.  This created an itch that could only be scratched by witnessing some of the places I’d only read about!

The world is so much larger than any of us realize, so I had to find a way to narrow down what I wanted to prioritize experiencing.  What better list to start with than the landmarks that have inspired and instilled wonderment in people for centuries!?

The original 7 Wonders of the World were architectural and sculptural marvels documented during the 2nd century BCE.  The list was central to the Mediterranean and Middle East regions and was comprised of the following:

1 – The Pyramids of Giza

2 – The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

3 – The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

4 – The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

5 – The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

6 – The Colossus of Rhodes

7 – Pharos of Alexandria (aka the Lighthouse of Alexandria)

The New Seven Wonders

Of all the locations above, only the eldest one remains today – the Pyramids of Giza.

This created a bit of a logistical nightmare with regards to witnessing these places!

Enter the New7Wonders Foundation, based in Zurich, Switzerland.  With a goal to contribute to and help protect the world’s man-made and natural heritage, the foundation set out in 2001 to establish a new list of wonders that would help promote respect for our planet’s diversity.  After more than 600 million votes, a new 7 were selected!

Across our travels, we’re often asked why we choose the locations we do, to which we usually just respond with “we’re trying to see the 7 Wonders of the World.”  Roughly 87% of the time, the immediate follow-up question is “what are the 7 Wonders?”  For that reason, we felt it was worthwhile to put together this list for any of you out there who might have the same question!  Without further ado, below are the new 7 Wonders as revealed on July 7, 2007:

Christ the Redeemer (Brazil)

This 92 feet (28 meters) tall statue rests 2,310 feet (704 meters) above the city of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Cristo Redentor (in Portuguese) looks over the entire city from its pedestal on Mount Corcovado.  Visiting this site is a double dose of awe as the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro is also recognized as a Natural Wonder of the World.  Reaching the peak has visitors ride a cog railway followed by a 220 stair climb (don’t worry, there are elevators/escalators now). Completed in 1931, this wonder also lays claim to being the largest Art Deco-style sculpture in the world!

Chichén-Itzá (Mexico)

Located in the jungles of the Yucatán peninsula, the city of Chichén-Itzá takes its name from the Mayan term for “at the mouth of the well of Itza.”  The Itza were an ethnic group that came to power in the region of the peninsula where this archaeological site rests, and the well refers to the underground rivers that provided access to water.  This was a critical feature of life in the region as there is no water located on the surface anywhere on the Yucatan peninsula!  The primary building associated with Chichén-Itzá is the 98 foot (30 meters) El Castillo/Temple of Kukulcán, however, the entire city is what actually comprises this Wonder.  Still an active archaeological site, it’s estimated this city was created around the 5th century A.D.  Part of the wonder of this site is the obvious scientific prowess that went into its design.  During the solstices, the architecture casts shadows down the steps of El Castillo turning them into the body of a snake!

Machu Picchu (Peru)

Resting 7972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is a sprawling citadel serving as a stark reminder of the engineering prowess of the Inca Empire.  Having been abandoned by the Inca when the Spanish conquered them in the sixteenth century, the site remained unknown to the rest of the world until 1911, when Hiram Bingham was led to the location by a local, Melchor Arteaga while searching for the “lost city of the Incas.”  While the intended purpose of the site is unknown, the presence of architectural terracing, astrological features, and intricate stonework throughout serve as a hint to the importance this site held.

Taj Mahal landscape shot

Taj Mahal (India)

Built between 1631 and 1648 on the bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife.  Considered to be one of the greatest achievements in Indo-Islamic architecture, this perfectly symmetrical building is not only a sight to behold itself, but the grounds themselves are designed in perfect balance and composition.  This tribute is nothing short of a masterpiece that echoes the true meaning of harmony and craftsmanship.

Petra (Jordan)

Located in the deserts of Jordan, Petra is more than just the Treasury building most picture when they think of this site.  Once the capital of the Nabataean kingdom, this ancient city is quite literally carved into the sandstone mountains it is hidden within.  Dating back to the fourth century B.C., Petra is credited with advancements that made an otherwise unforgiving environment habitable, which it was until about the 8th century A.D.!  From the beautiful architecture to the amazing water management system, Petra is a testament to the innovation and perseverance of this ancient culture.

The Great Wall of China (China)

The longest wall in the world at 13,170.7 miles (21,196.18 kilometers), this marvel, viewable from space, has been standing for more than 2,300 years!  Believe to have been started by individual state overlords to secure state borders, the wall evolved and grew over centuries under various dynasties. Not overly tall by any means (standing 26 feet tall at its highest), the wall was designed to be at least three times taller than the average human.  This wonder has been referred to as one of the “greatest human feats in history” and also holds the mark as the longest-duration building project known to man.

Roman Colosseum (Italy)

Commissioned by Emperor Vespasian around 70 A.D. as a gift to the Roman people, the Roman Colosseum opened approximately 10 years later in 80 A.D. with 100 days of games.  In use for approximately 400 years, the Colosseum was able to entertain more than 50,000 people at a time.  After its abandonment as a site of entertainment, the Colosseum largely devolved into a quarry for storing building materials.  By the 1900s, nearly 66% of the original building had succumbed to damage, however, since the 1990s a concerted effort has been made to restore this testament to the grandiose of the Roman empire!

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The Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)

By far the eldest on the list of wonders, the Pyramids of Giza have stood since approximately 2465 B.C.  This site was grandfathered in as Wonder of the World, given its presence on the original list.

The three primary pyramids that make up the postcard image of this site are those built for Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure.  The largest of the three is the northern pyramid built for Khufu measuring an astounding 755.75 feet (230 meters) on each side of its square base and originally extending 481.4 feet (147 meters) into the Egyptian sky.  The “Great Pyramid” of Khufu, thought to be built from at least 2.3 million blocks and weighing nearly 5.75-million tons, truly is the definition of “wonder” one would expect when looking at this list!

As we haven’t yet visited all Seven Wonders (just one more to go!), the following stock photo is used (photo credit given to the respective photographer with a link to their profile):

The Great Wall of China: natuurfan1978