Cultural lists compiled to catalogue the most spectacular natural wonders and artificial structures on Earth
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 human-built 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 and in Mesopotamia. 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.
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The historian Herodotus (484 – c. 425 BC) and the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene (c. 305–240 BC), at the Museum of Alexandria, made early lists of seven wonders. Their writings have not survived, except as references.
The classic seven wonders were:
- Great Pyramid of Giza, El Giza, Egypt the only one that still exists.
- Colossus of Rhodes, in Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name.
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon, in Babylon, near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq.
- Lighthouse of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt.
- Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, in Halicarnassus, Achaemenid Empire, modern day Turkey.
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia, in Olympia, Greece.
- Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey).
Lists from other eras
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.
American Society of Civil Engineers
In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers compiled a list of Seven Wonders of the Modern World, paying tribute to the “greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century”.
USA Today‘s New Seven Wonders
In November 2006 the American national newspaper USA Today and the American television show Good Morning America revealed a list of “New Seven Wonders” as chosen by six judges. The Grand Canyon was added as an eighth wonder on November 24, 2006, from viewer feedback.
Seven Natural Wonders of the World
Similar to the other lists of wonders, there is no consensus on a list of seven natural wonders of the world, and there has been debate over how large the list should be. One of the many existing lists was compiled by CNN in 1997:
New7Wonders of the World
In 2001 an initiative was started by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation to choose the New7Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments through online votes. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the only remaining of the Seven Ancient Wonders, was not one of the winners announced in 2007 but was added as an honorary candidate.
New7Wonders of Nature
New7Wonders of Nature (2007–2011), a contemporary effort to create a list of seven natural wonders chosen through a global poll, was organized by the same group as the New7Wonders of the World campaign.
- Iguazu Falls on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná.
- Hạ Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam.
- Jeju Island in the Jeju Province of South Korea.
- Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan, Philippines
- Table Mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa.
- Komodo one of the 17,508 islands that comprise the Republic of Indonesia.
- Amazon rainforest located in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and France (French Guiana)
New7Wonders Cities is the third global vote organized by New7Wonders.
Seven Wonders of the Underwater World
The Seven Underwater Wonders of the World was a list drawn up by CEDAM International, an American-based non-profit group for divers, dedicated to ocean preservation and research. In 1989 CEDAM brought together a panel of marine scientists, including Dr. Eugenie Clark, to pick underwater areas which they considered to be worthy of protection. The results were announced at The National Aquarium in Washington DC by actor Lloyd Bridges, star of TV’s Sea Hunt:
Seven Wonders of the Industrial World
British author Deborah Cadbury wrote Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, a book telling the stories of seven great feats of engineering of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 2003, the BBC aired a seven-part docudrama exploring the same feats, with Cadbury as a producer. Each episode dramatised the construction of one of the following industrial wonders:
Seven Wonders of the Solar System
In a 1999 article, Astronomy magazine listed the “Seven Wonders of the Solar System”. This article was later made into a video.
Other lists of wonders of the world
- Many authors and organisations have composed lists of the wonders of the world that have been published in book or magazine form.
- Seven Wonders of the World is a 1956 film in which Lowell Thomas searches the world for natural and artificial wonders and invites the audience to try to update the ancient Wonders of the World list.
- Both the USA Today article and the Good Morning America broadcast described this wonder as “Jerusalem’s Old City, Israel.” The Old City is located in East Jerusalem, which is claimed by both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. The UN and most countries do not recognize Israel’s claim to East Jerusalem, taking the position that the final status of Jerusalem is pending future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. See Positions on Jerusalem for more information.
- Anon. (1993). The Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia (First ed.). Oxford: Oxford University.
- Evans, I H (reviser (1975). Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Centenary edition Fourth impression (corrected) ed.). London: Cassell. p. 1163.
- Hereward Carrington (1880–1958). The Seven Wonders of the World: ancient, medieval and modern, reprinted in the Carington Collection (2003). ISBN 0-7661-4378-3.
- Carrington, Hereward (September 2010). The Carrington Collection. ISBN 9781169692169. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Latham, Edward (1904). A Dictionary of Names, Nicknames and Surnames, of Persons, Places and Things. p. 280. OCLC 01038938.
- Miller, Francis Trevelyan (1915). America, the Land We Love. p. 201. OCLC 00334597. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020. Excerpts from speeches by Woodrow Wilson, William H. Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt.
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Crusades. 2001. p. 153.
- Herbermann, Charles George, ed. (1913). Cluny Abbey. The Catholic Encyclopedia. 4. p. 73. OCLC 06974688. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
- The Rough Guide To England. 1994. p. 596.
- Palpa, as You Like it. p. 67. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- “American Society of Civil Engineers Seven Wonders”. ASCE.org. July 19, 2010. Archived from the original on August 2, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- American Society of Civil Engineers. “Seven Wonders of the Modern World”. ASCE.org. Archived from the original on April 2, 2010.
- “USGS: Three Gorges Dam is bigger than Itaipu Dan but annual output is about the same because of river variability”. Archived from the original on April 27, 2020. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
- “New Seven Wonders panel”. USA Today. October 27, 2006. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- Clark, Jayne (December 22, 2006). “The world’s 8th wonder: Readers pick the Grand Canyon”. USA Today. Archived from the original on June 19, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- “Natural Wonders”. CNN. November 11, 1997. Archived from the original on July 21, 2006. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- “The multimedia campaign to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World is in its final stage”. New7Wonders. Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
- “Egypt’s pyramids out of seven wonders contest”. Daily News Egypt. April 20, 2007. Archived from the original on June 25, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- “Reuters via ABC News Australia “Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled” 7 July 2007″. Australia: ABC. July 8, 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- “Great Wall of China”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- “Underwater Wonders of the World”. Wonderclub. Archived from the original on June 13, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
- Kumar, Manjit (November 7, 2003). “Review: Seven Wonders of the Industrial World by Deborah Cadbury”. The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Cadbury, Deborah (February 17, 2011). “British History in Depth: Seven Wonders of the Industrial World”. Archived from the original on December 27, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
- “Seven Wonders of the Solar System Video”. Aaa.org. 1999. Archived from the original on April 1, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2014.