In 2000, a campaign called New7Wonders began a process to select a new Seven Wonders from the many incredible landmarks that currently exist over the globe – sites travellers can still see and marvel at for themselves.
Decided by a public vote, the New7Wonders list includes a mysterious ancient city, an aging temple of a lost civilisation, a sporting arena that captivated an all-conquering empire, the largest religious monument ever built and the awesome tomb of a deceased monarch. A group of seven wonders every bit as compelling as the seven ancient wonders (most of which are lost), these are landmarks you will want to experience for yourself.
- The Great Wall of China
Started about 2,300 years ago and completed in the 17th Century, the Great Wall of China has become an enduring icon of the nation, a testament to Chinese determination and strength. It is the longest structure ever made and stretches from the Gobi Desert to the Yellow Sea, snaking through perilous terrain surrounding Beijing on its way. This wonder was originally built by millions of Chinese soldiers and farmers, with a view to keeping out foreign invaders. These days, it serves a different purpose: as arguably China’s leading tourist attraction, drawing 70,000 tourists per day along its 21,196 km length.
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Standing between five to nine metres high, the wall boasts incredible views of snow-capped mountains in the winter, a kaleidoscope of red and orange in the autumn or rolling green hills in the summer.
- The Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal (translated “Crown of the Palace”) is a mausoleum made of white marble, built in Agra to house the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The Shah was devastated by the death of his wife and the love story between the two was said to the inspiration behind the architectural marvel, which was commissioned in 1632. Attracting seven to eight million visitors annually, the complex features the great ivory-white tomb, a mosque with guest house, a three-sided crenelated wall, and gardens with tree-lined avenues and a reflecting pool. Precious materials for the construction were sourced from all over Asia, from as far afield as China, Afghanistan and even Arabia.
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The site currently attracts an estimated seven to eight million visitors from all over the world every year.
- Petra in Jordan
Located amidst the towering canyons and steep mountains of Jordan, the ancient ruins of Petra are a sight to behold. Accessible only through the snaking Siq, the journey through the famous narrow canyon and its red sandstone walls makes the ‘lost city’ of Petra seem even more majestic and mysterious when it finally comes into view. The first building you will see once emerging from the Siq is the Treasury, a tomb carved out of sandstone which looks particularly stunning in either early morning or late afternoon light. Another highlight is the royal tombs, a short hike away. Interestingly, archaeologists estimate only 15 per cent of this wondrous city has been recovered.
- Machu Picchi in Peru
A 15th Century Inca citadel located in the rugged mountains of Peru’s Cusco region, Machu Picchu is well known for its rich Incan heritage and remarkably preserved structures. In all, there are around 200 stone buildings, including temples, aqueducts and ceremonial bathhouses, along with the three most famous structures, the Temple of the Sun, Room of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana, which was used for monitoring celestial activity. Guided tours can offer you informative insights into the town’s colourful history and explain the purpose behind the complex labyrinth of cells, corridors and hidden rooms beneath the surface. There are direct trips that can get you to the site in one day, or you can pace yourself over four or five days and enjoy the climb.
- Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
A mention of Brazil conjures up thoughts of vast rainforests, bright cities and groovy dance, yet the image most associated with the capital Rio de Janeiro is Christ the Redeemer. The 30 metre statue is the tallest religious statue on the planet, and has been standing majestically atop Corcovado Mountain since 1931. A symbol of the nation’s Christian heritage, the base also offers the best view of Rio, a breathtaking vista taking in the city’s bustling heart, colourful suburbs and deep Blue Ocean. When visiting, try the 220-step climb early in the morning and you will be greeted by the sun touching the tips of Guanbara Bay as the statue’s shadow stretches over the valley.
- Chichen Itza in Mexico
Located in the Yucatan region in East Mexico, Chichen Itza is the site most frequently associated with ancient Mayan culture. Considering they date back to the 7th Century, these ruins are remarkably well-preserved. Astronomy was a cornerstone of Mayan culture,and many of the
characteristics of the rugged temples and pyramids are devoted to telling the time or following constellations. The centre point of the site is El Castillo, a towering pyramid that served as an observatory and temple. Inside, its 365 steps depict the days in the Mayan calendar.
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More than two million visitors flock to this site every year for an insight into the mysterious Mayan civilisation.
- The Colosseum in Italy
With the ability to hold almost as many people as ANZ Stadium, the Colosseum was the epicenter of ancient Rome – particularly in terms of sport. Its size and the attention to detail in its intricately moulded columns, chambers and subterranean sections make it truly unique compared to the typical amphitheatre constructed during the days of Roman dominion. The underground sections were only opened this decade for tourists to explore, so if you have already visited the Colosseum before, this could prove a new experience on a second trip.
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The Colosseum represents the seamless fusion of old and new that this ageless city achieves: you can walk in the footsteps of the Roman Empire’s citizens, then emerge into the heart of a bustling modern metropolis.