Mission accomplished: visit the 7 wonders of the world (plus cities and nature of wonders)

I’ve always been curious about what the 7 wonders of the world are like and I finally got to visit them all without even planning it!

The New 7 Wonders of The World campaign was founded by Bernard Weber in 1999 with the idea of using modern technologies (in the 90s) to capture a single topic that the world could relate to.

Weber was living in Montreal, Canada at the time and bought a computer worth $700 CAD. He kept staring at the screen and asked, “what is the one topic, word, sentence, or idea that would easily register with people?”

His partner who was a teacher in Germany asked, “do you know what the 7 ancient wonders of the world are?”

“Of course not!” he replied. His wife was only asking about this just for fun, not to really contribute to his new crusade of creating a website.

The 7 Ancient Wonders of The World existed during 200 BC. They were just man-made monuments selected by a single person name Philon of Byzantium but only 1 of those 6 is known to mankind today: the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

As to what the other 6 are? Not one person can identify but Philon of Byzantium. Which is kind of unfair if you see it on a larger scale: how does this guy get to decide what the 7 wonders are?

With this, he decided to build the brand 7 Wonders of The World which is also known as the new seven wonders of the world. This time around, there isn’t one single person who decides what they are but is brought to a larger, broader audience who are allowed to vote.

Meaning, the new wonders of the world will be people’s choices. From 2000-2004, Weber built the website and made the Seven Wonders of The World brand well-known worldwide.

By 2005, there were already 176 nominees vying for the title with 77 wonders that are on the top list. In 2006, they announced the 21 finalists and did a world tour in these places from 2006-2007.

architectural and cultural importance, as well as the beauty of the monuments and structures.

From 176 nominees, Weber got a little help from his friends to trim down the list to 21. To trim down the selection, they had to focus on the architectural and cultural importance and the beauty of the monuments nd structures.

The experts/panels who helped him were:

  • Zaha Hadid: an Iraqi-British architect and the first woman to receive a Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. Some of the most notable projects that Zaha led include the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome, and the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi.
  • Tadao Ando: Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995 and is the architect of the Church of the Light in Osaka, Japan
  • Federico Mayor Zaragoza: the appointed President of the Seven Wonders of the World panel, Zaragoza was the former Director General of UNESCO.
  • Harry Seidler: Born in Vienna but growing up in Australia, Seidler was one of the finest architects in both countries. He is the author of The Grand Tour which is a guide to the most beautiful buildings in the world.
  • Cesar Pelli: Argentine-American architect who built the Battery Park buildings in New York, the Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur, the new Hong Kong Financial Centre, and the Canary Wharf in the United Kingdom.
  • Yung Ho Chang: a Chinese contemporary architect and the founder of the Graduate Center of Architecture at Peking University. Chang was also the head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Architecture in 2005.
  • Aziz Tayob: the first POC architect who started the project of achieving the best design for the very limited resources and space available to the underprivileged communities of South Africa.

On 07/07/07 (July 7, 2007), the 7 wonders of the world were announced at a conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

At present, there are no longer voting phases for the 7 wonders of the world but you can continue to strengthen and support this successful one-time world campaign by supporting your favorite natural wonder.

They have a map on their website where you can upload photos of yourself in the place you are supporting. It’s such a fun experience as you can see many people from around the world are still raving about this campaign.

🏺 Seven wonders of the world contenders

Before we proceed to the official 7 wonders of the world, I want to share with you which wonders did not make it to the list as you will find them very interesting.

I’ve been to many of this contenders’ list too and I keep thinking about why these places did not make it? Here are the finalists to the 7 wonders of the world title:

📜 The new 7 wonders of the world

#1: Taj Mahal (India)

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum complex located in India. In the 16th-18th century, The Mughal dynasty ruled most of northern India under the rule of King Jahangir.

When he died in 1627, his son Shah Jahan took over the throne through a power struggle with his brothers. As the most powerful of them all, he declared himself the Emperor of Agra in 1628.

He married his three queens but has a favorite among the three. He favored Arjumand Banu Begum, also known as Mumtaz Mahal which means the chosen one of the palace.

Mumtaz Mahal gave birth to their 14th child in 1631 and died in the ordeal. Shah Jahan was stricken by depression and sadness so he ordered to build a mausoleum across his palace in Agra.

wonders of the world
Photo: Ankush Dawar / Pexels

At his side was Arjumand Banu Begum, better known as Mumtaz Mahal (“Chosen One of the Palace”), whom he married in 1612 and cherished as the favorite of his three queens.

The building of the Taj Mahal started in 1632 and the construction lasted for 20 years. To date, the Taj Mahal is one of the best examples of India’s Mughal architecture that depicts different influences including Persian and Islamic.

Apart from being part of the 7 wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was also designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1983.

wonders of the world

#2: Machu Picchu (Peru)

Machu Picchu is the most visited site in Peru with records of 1.5 million tourists visiting annually. Located in Cusco, Peru, historians record that it used to be a sacred religious site or an estate for the Incan leaders.

In 1911, American explorer Hiram Bingham “discovered” Machu Picchu and he recorded this expedition in his book, Los City of the Incas published by Phoenix Press.

Originally, he went on a mission to Peru to find Vilcabamba which is the last of the Incans to survive the Spanish conquest. Machu Picchu is a word from the Quechua language which means “old peak.” This language is still spoken in many mountains in Peru today.

wonders of the world
Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1983, the same year that the Taj Mahal got the title.

Historically, Machu Picchu was believed to be built by the Incan Empire who ruled South America in the 15th century. The Incan empire was wiped out by the Spanish colonization in the 16th century but there are no shreds of evidence that the Spanish reached Machu Picchu.

It is also believed that a smallpox epidemic forced the Incan Empire to vacate Machu Picchu. It was abandoned for an estimated 100 years until Bingham discovered it.

Up until today, archaeologists have different beliefs about what Machu Picchu is and how it came about. Some think it was a religious and sacred site for the Incas. Other studies interpret Machu Picchu as a trade hub, a city devoted to the coronation of Kings, a prison, and many more.

cusco solo travel
I made it three times to Machu Picchu in different years while living in Peru.

#3: Chichen Itza (Mexico)

I have been very privileged to be living in Mexico and see the historic Chichen Itza. It is a Mayan City and an active archaeological site located in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, close to the resort town of Cancun.

The Mayans predominantly ruled Mexico and Central America before the European invasion (Spain). It was believed to be built as the Mayans’ center of political and economic power during the early 400s A.D.

Other studies show that the Chichen Itza was built in the 5th century but either way, it was already an economic powerhouse in the Mayan culture at the time. It is dense and composed of structures made of stone.

In 1988, Chichen Itza was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2007, it joined the new 7 wonders of the world list. Mexico recorded approximately 2 million tourists visiting Chichen Itza every year.

seven wonders of the world

#4: Christ the Redeemer (Brazil)

The Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is not only an emblem of the city but an icon of the whole country. Pedro Maria Boss was a Vincentian priest in the 1850s who proposed to build a Christian monument on the top of the Corcovado Mountains.

It was a proposition to honor the princess regent of Brazil, Isabel, who is the daughter of an emperor. The project proposal was declined at this time until, in 1921, the archdiocese of Rio brought back this topic to the table and the construction was approved.

christ the redeemer

Christ the Redeemer construction started in 1926 and lasted for 5 years. In order to fund the construction, the churches in Brazil held private fundraisings under the watch of Silva Costa.

Transporting materials was not that easy as they had to be moved via railway to reach the summit. The statue was completed on October 12, 1931, and stands 98 feet (30 meters) tall with arms spanning 92 feet (28 meters).

Brazil is a predominantly Catholic country so this is a national emblem to them. The Christ the Redeemer can be seen in many parts of Rio de Janeiro and this brings the Brazilian comfort and peace.

seven wonders of the world
Back when I visited Christ The Redeemer, Instagram photos were not a thing. It is always crowded so it’s hard to take great pictures!

#5: Petra (Jordan)

The Nabateans are a Bedouin tribe in the (now) southwest Jordan used Petra as a trading post. Through these trades, the Nabateans acquired wealth and by 312 BC, the Greek Empire heard about this and attacked Petra to obtain this significant amount of wealth.

Armed with only not wealth but a far greater knowledge of Petra’s terrain, the Nabateans surely fought back against the Greeks by using the mountains and high areas of Petra as a wall.

In 106 AD, the Roman Empire attacked Petra and this event forced the Nabateans to vacate their post. With this victory by the Roman Empire came the change to Petra’s name, Arabia Petraea which led the Romans to rule Petra for over 250 years.

seven wonders of the world

In the 4th century AD, a strong earthquake destroyed many of Petra’s buildings which ended Roman rule and the Byzantines took over the region for 300 years. By the 8th century A.D., Petra lost significance as a trading powerhouse along with its commercial, political, and cultural importance to Jordan.

However, archaeologists, historians, and researchers were very impressed with the architectural structure of Petra, also known as the rock-cut architecture known to be a strength of the Nabateans.

No matter how many cultures occupied Petra, the rock architecture remained and no one altered nor touched the beautiful structures of the city.

Petra receives an estimate of 200,000 visitors per year from all over the world (and Jordan Nationals). Petra was eventually named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and joined the seven wonders of the world in 2007.

seven wonders of the world

#6: The Great Wall of China (China)

The Great Wall of China has 13,000 miles in length, composed of fortifications and walls. Originally, it was built in the order of Emperor Quin Shi Huang to protect it from barbarian nomads.

Theoretically, the Great Wall of China did not really protect China fully against invaders but it served as an icon of China’s rich history.

History records the beginning of the Great Wall of China in the 5th century B.C. while many other parts of the wall were believed to have been built from hundred years before, particularly during China’s Warring States Period.

The Qin Dynasty unified China in 220 B.C. and with this, the Emperor who was responsible for China’s unification ordered the remodeling system of the Great Wall to protect them against attackers of the North.

A fun fact during this period of remodeling: the labor force who built it was mostly soldiers and convicts. Reports state that there are over 400,000 people died during the construction of the Great Wall and many of them were buried in the walls.

China records a whopping 10 million travelers visiting The Great Wall of China yearly (both Chinese and foreign nationals). It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

seven wonders of the world

#7: The Colosseum (Italy)

The Colosseum is located in Italy and is one of the most visited attractions in Rome. It took nearly a decade to finish the Colosseum and at the time, that was a very fast time to build something on that scale.

Built around 70-72 A.D., the Colosseum was the Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty’s gift to the Romans. His son, Titus, was very involved in the building of the Colosseum. Back then, it was known as the Flavian Amphitheater.

The Colosseum was dedicated in 80 A.D. through 100 days of games as declared by Titus. What are those games, you may ask? We are well aware of how the Romans play but think of animal fights and gladiator combats.

The Colosseum was used by the Romans for four centuries for their ‘games’ and entertainment. There was a period when these games were not the Romans’ cup of tea anymore so they died down.

Through the years, parts of the Colosseum have been destroyed by lightning, earthquakes, a series of natural disasters, vandalism, and neglect. In the 90s, a restorative project took place and has continued over the years.

Italy has recorded 6 million travelers from all over the world visiting The Colosseum. Rome, the city where the Colosseum is located was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 25,000 points in environmental and archaeological sites.

🗺️ More seven wonders of the world

The Seven Wonders of The World also opened new segments namely the 7 wonders of nature and the 7 wonder cities. Here are the selected winners:

The 7 wonders of nature

New 7 wonders cities

7 ancient wonders

Lastly, the 7 ancient wonders are the original 7 Wonders of the World (more info on the first part of this article). At present, the only existing 7 ancient wonders are the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The other ancient wonders of the world WERE:

  1. The Temple of Zeus at Olympia
  2. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  3. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  4. The Colossus of Rhodes
  5. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  6. The Pharos of Alexandria
  7. The Pyramids of Giza

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  1. So many of these incredible wonders are on my bucket list, and I’ve only recently learned of the natural wonders of the world. I’m especially fascinated by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, since there is no trace of the gardens themselves. Plus, I had no idea that there was a recent voting process to pick the 7 wonders! It’s easy to see why these places are so worth celebrating – from the ancient architectural feats to their stunning beauty. It may seem cliche, but the Pyramids top my list. I’m so impressed you’ve been to them all!

  2. So, as you have seen all 7 of the new wonders of the world – how would you rate them? I have seen only four of them, but actually I feel the Christ statue in Brazil (I have not been there) and the Colosseum (been there) are bit overrated.

  3. Ok I am jealous! I have only been to two on the list and need to see more! I’m honestly fascinated by all of them. It’s cool to see the ‘newest’ places to see too. I have another list to compile!

  4. What an interesting backstory about the seven wonders of the world. I did not know that they were selected by one person, but I do know about the new 7 wonders of the world that are selected by voting. The Taj Mahal and the wall of china are in my last for a while. I know, I will visit them someday.

  5. I have visited three of the new wonders of the world, as well as two of the ones of the Ancient world. They are all so different and deserve the recognition of a wonder of the world. I remember seeing Machu Picchu for the first time… what a sight! Also, wondering alone, by night, without anyone else around the Colosseum, was pretty special. I wasn’t so keen on the Taj Mahal unfortunately, I think that’s because of the uncontrollable crowds which spoiled the visit there.

  6. Congratulations on seeing the 7 wonders of the world. It is a great challenge and adventure. I would love to see them all! So far, I have seen the Taj Mahal mausoleum. It’s genuinely fantastic architecture. I’ve seen the Chichen Itza in Mexico as well and Colosseum in Italy. The rest is on my dream list. I hope to visit Peru and Machu Pichu soon. You had a fantastic adventure!

  7. I remember when I was in elementary the 7 wonders of the world were the 7 ancient worlds. Then it changed over time and now it’s the ones on your list. Personally, I think the Christ of the Redeemer shouldn’t be on the list since it’s pretty new compared to the other 6.

  8. I still have few to go from the new wonders. I think both Petra and Chichen Itza are the most impressive ones in my opinion. I’m a big list person so of course I want to see them all. And I’m sad that most of the old wonders are no longer there. Giza pyramids were so impressive though.

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