The 7 Wonders of the Modern World, also known as the New 7 Wonders of the World, are a series of monuments that have been recognized as the greatest man-made structures still in existence.
In 2000, a campaign was undertaken to vote on new World Wonders that would serve as an alternative to the already established list of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. After more than 100 million total votes, the winners were finally announced in 2007.
From their impressive architecture to their remarkable histories, it's no wonder that these monuments have captured our collective imagination. Join us as we take a journey to explore the 7 Wonders of the Modern World.
1. Chichen Itza (Mexico)
Chichen Itza is Mexico's most visited archaeological site and it's also of the most famous Wonders of the Modern World. This ancient city was built by the Maya civilization within Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula between the 8th and 10th centuries.
From an architectural perspective, Chichen Itza contains a diverse range of influences compared to other Mayan ruins in the surrounding region. Some of these influences suggest that Chichen Itza was in contact with and likely traded resources with other Mesoamerican civilizations.
The city fell into decline sometime in the 13th century but still maintained a sizable population up until the Spanish conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula in the 1500s.
The ruins were re-discovered and surveyed by American explorer John Lloyd Stephens in the early 19th century. Stephens subsequently wrote a book titled Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, which became immensely popular after its release. This book helped to establish Chichen Itza as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, a title which remains to this day.
2. Christ The Redeemer (Brazil)
Christ The Redeemer is easily one of South America's most iconic landmarks. In 1920 the Catholic Circle of Rio made a proposal to build a Christian monument atop Mount Corcovado, which towers over Rio de Jainero.
The group subsequently held a large event that was aimed at garnering support for the project. This event was a success and construction began on the statue in 1922 by a team of Brazilian, French, and Romanian engineers and sculptors. After 9 years, the statue was finally opened to the world on October 12th, 1931.
During construction, the engineers decided to use reinforced concrete and soapstone as building materials with the hopes that it would make the statue less prone to damage over the years. However, the statue was hit by lightning in both 2008 and 2014, causing some damage to the structure. In 2010, a substantial restoration effort was undertaken to improve the statue's internal structure as well as to repair the outer facade and lightning rods.
Today nearly 2 million people visit Christ The Redeemer every year, making it one of the most visited landmarks in the world.
3. The Colosseum (Italy)
According to TripAdvisor, in 2018 the Roman Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in the entire world with approximately 7.4 million visitors.
The Colosseum was constructed between 72 and 80 AD with further modifications taking place between 81 AD and 96 AD. It's estimated that the Colosseum could hold approximately 65,000 spectators at any given time, making it the largest amphitheater ever built upon its completion.
This space was originally used for public events such as gladiator battles, hunting, and re-enactments ranging from famous sea battles to theatrical performances. However, it ceased to function as a space for public entertainment sometime during the 5th and 6th centuries. The Colosseum was later used as a housing unit, a cemetery, and a castle, among other things.
Although it has been severely damaged over the years due to earthquakes, the Colosseum is still intact some two thousand years after its completion. To visit the Colosseum is to step back in time and gain a glimpse into the sophistication of the mighty Roman Empire.
4. Great Wall of China (China)
The Great Wall of China is the oldest landmark on this list as small sections of the wall were constructed as early as the 7th century BC. However, most of the wall as we know it today was built between 1368 and 1644 AD during the Ming dynasty.
Most people know that the Great Wall of China was constructed as a defensive mechanism to ward off invading tribes. However, it was also used to facilitate transportation, encourage trade, and regulate China's borders. It's estimated that the wall is approximately 13,171 miles long in its entirety.
For much of its history, the Great Wall of China was relatively unknown to the outside world. China finally opened its borders to foreign visitors after its defeat in the First and Second Opium Wars during the 19th century. Once this happened, the Great Wall of China became a popular attraction and helped to encourage tourism within the country.
Today the Great Wall of China maintains a reputation as a mythical landmark that defies geographical challenges. Whether you appreciate its historical significance or its impressive engineering, there's no doubt that the Great Wall of China is one of the greatest Wonders of the Modern World.
5. Machu Picchu (Peru)
Machu Picchu is an ancient city nestled high in the Peruvian Andes. The city was built by the Inca empire around 1450 but was abandoned less than a century later during the Spanish conquest of Peru.
There has been a great deal of confusion over the purpose of Machu Picchu ever since it was made popular by Hiram Bingham in 1911. This World Wonder is often mistakenly referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", a title which actually refers to the nearby site of Vilcabamba.
Machu Picchu is now commonly believed to have been used as a royal estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. There would have been hundreds of Incas living at the site with the sole purpose of supporting the estate and serving the wishes of the Inca emperor.
Machu Picchu is divided into two parts with an urban sector built into the upper portion of the site and an agricultural sector built into the lower portion. The Incas used the mountainous terrain to their advantage by employing advanced cultivation and irrigation methods.
The Incas also developed a masterful system of cutting and fitting stone blocks together without mortar. The arrangement of these stone blocks provided a method of stabilizing structures that would have otherwise quickly deteriorated due to earthquakes, landslides, and flooding.
Today Machu Picchu is perhaps the most famous destination in all of South America. The fact that it's somewhat difficult to reach likely adds to the mysticism surrounding this ancient city.
6. Petra (Jordan)
Petra is an ancient city in southern Jordan that dates back as far as 400 B.C., although settlers may have inhabited the general region much earlier. The location was chosen by the Nabateans due to its favorable location near major trade routes in the middle east.
The first recorded reference to this Wonder of the Modern World was when the Greek Empire attacked Petra in 312 BC. The Nabateans were able to successfully repel the invading Greeks by using the mountainous terrain surrounding Petra to their advantage. However, the city was invaded again and conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 AD.
Petra began its decline as a major trade center during the Roman occupation, in part due to the emergence of competing trade routes. Further, in 363 AD, Petra was severely damaged by a powerful earthquake. Many buildings were destroyed along with the advanced systems of water management that had been constructed by the Nabateans.
The ruins were re-discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812, which was the first time that the western world was made aware of the city's existence. In 1929, Petra was excavated and surveyed for the first time by a group of British archaeologists and scholars.
Today Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is renowned for its impressive architecture and ancient history. Adding to this fame, the city has also been featured in numerous movies over the years, most notably in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
7. Taj Mahal (India)
The Taj Mahal is a famous mausoleum in northern India that was constructed between 1632 and 1643 with further modifications taking place up until 1653. The building was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shan Jahan after his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, passed away during childbirth. Saddened by the loss, the emperor decided to construct a magnificent mausoleum to act as a final resting place for Mumtaz Mahal. It's said that over 22,000 laborers and 1,000 elephants were used to build this Wonder of the Modern World.
In 1657, shortly after the Taj Mahal was completed, emperor Shan Jahan fell ill and was overthrown by one of his sons, at which point he was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. Upon passing away in 1666, Shan Jahan was buried in the mausoleum next to his late wife, whom he had loved so profoundly.
With millions of visitors every year, the Taj Mahal is today one of the most popular and well-known landmarks in the entire world. Regardless whether you appreciate the stunning Mughal architecture or the heartfelt love story that accompanies this monument, a visit to the Taj Mahal will surely help to satisfy even the most ardent case of wanderlust.
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