The 14 Wonders of the World, Ancient and New

The world is full of wonderful sights and destinations, but there are certain ones that really strike a chord, managing to feel more remarkable than others, even if it’s hard to describe why. The Wonders of the World fit this bill — they defy comprehension most of the time, leaving us asking, “How did they do this?” — and that’s precisely why they’re called the Wonders of the World. 

There are many a list decrying new wonders, natural wonders, and even local wonders, but it all began with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a list compiled by ancient historian Herodotus and scholar Callimachus of Cyrene. The complete list of ancient wonders, Reuters explains, was lost somewhere in the sands of time, save for a few references. A new list emerged in the Middle Ages, compiled from those references and other ancient Greek writings. Many of the ancient wonders sites no longer exist.

Then, in 2000, the Switzerland-based organization New7Wonders Foundation started a campaign to create a new list of wonders. More than 100 million votes were collected in a global campaign, and the New Seven Wonders of the World were named. These include sites you likely know, like the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu. But do you know the wonders that preceded them? We’ve combined both lists here, to give you a full — and wonderful — picture.

The Wonders of the Ancient and New World

Colossus of Rhodes

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The Colossus of Rhodes was, as the name suggests, absolutely massive. Built by the Rhodians on the Greek Island of Rhodes between 294 to 282 BCE, the statue is said to have measured 100 feet high. According to the History Channel, it only stood for 60 years before crumbling to the ground in an earthquake, and remnants were sold as scrap metal. Historians also do not know the exact location of the Chares of Lindus-designed statue, nor precisely what it looked like, but they do know it was built in honor of the sun god Helios.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon remain one of history’s great mysteries. Archeologists aren’t positive where it stood, though according to the ancient Greeks, it was found near the Euphrates River, in what is now modern-day Iraq. The gardens allegedly were a lush paradise, with plants dripping from walls some 75 feet high. However, as the History Channel also notes, there are no first-hand accounts of the gardens actually existing, only second-hand tales.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

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Greek sculptor Phidias created a 40-foot statue in honor of Zeus, which sat at the Temple of Zeus in Olympia until its demise. The statue is said to have been plated with gold and ivory, and it depicted Zeus sitting on a cedarwood throne with more gold, ivory, and precious stones. The statue was lost when the temple was destroyed in 426 CE. 

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

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The Temple of Artemis, built in what is now western Turkey, would surely still stand out today as an architectural marvel. Built around 550 BCE, the temple was some 350 feet long by 180 feet wide and filled with artworks and sculptures. It was destroyed by the Goths in 262 CE and was never reconstructed. However, small fragments still exist, which can be viewed in the British Museum.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

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The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is another ancient giant from what is now modern-day Turkey. The tomb was built in 353 BCE by Artemisia for her husband, Mausolus, who was also her brother. Descriptions of the mausoleum say it was almost perfectly square and built with 36 columns, all topped with a 24-step pyramid. It was likely destroyed in a 13th-century earthquake. Some fragments still sit in the British Museum.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

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The lighthouse of Alexandria was built by Sostratus of Cnidus around 280 BCE. It was constructed on the island of Pharos, and, according to Britannica, stood an impressive 350 feet high. It was also allegedly paired with a massive statue representing either Alexander the Great or Ptolemy I Soter. The lighthouse stood until the 12th century but was later replaced by a fortress. 

Great Pyramid of Giza

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The Great Pyramid of Giza is the last remaining wonder of the ancient world. It towers over the west bank of the Nile River, and it made up of more than two million stones covering 13 acres of land. How it was truly built remains a mystery, though scientists are confident that log rollers and sleds were used to move the massive stones. See it for yourself by purchasing a ticket and scheduling a visit.

The Colosseum

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The Colosseum remains Rome’s top attraction. Built in the first century by Emperor Vespasian, the massive theater spans 620 by 513 feet. It would hold upwards of 50,000 people at once, crowds who came to entertainment of all kinds, including, most famously, gladiator battles. Travelers in Rome can tour what remains of the Colosseum by booking advance tickets.

The Great Wall of China

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The Great Wall of China stretches on for more than 13,000 miles. It is still a hot attraction, visited by some 10 million people each year. The wall was created at the behest of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, more than 2,000 years ago, to protect against invaders. 

The Taj Mahal

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The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Construction began in 1632 and was completed in 1648. The property spans some 42 acres, including its ornate gardens. It remains open to visitors every day but Fridays. A glittering night tour is also bookable, if you’d prefer.

Christ the Redeemer

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Christ the Redeemer stands tall above the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro on Corcovado Mountain. The statue is ninety-eight feet tall, to be exact, and its arms stretch 92 feet wide. Construction began on the massive statue in 1922 with the help of engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and sculptor Paul Landowski. It was completed in 1931. Millions of people make the trek to see it each year. You can too, by booking your visit here.

Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu is another archaeological wonder. The ancient Incan city in Peru is said to have been constructed around 1450 BCE, and could have been used for government or religious services. The ruins became world famous after explorer Hiram Bingham spotted them with the help of local indigenous people. Thanks to diligent conservation work, travelers from all over the world can still visit the ruins today, and they do so in droves. In response to demand and to preserve the experience, the local government capped the number of daily visitors. This means travelers must book tickets well in advance.

Chichén Itzá

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Chichén Itzá isn’t just one building or monument, but an entire ancient Mayan city found in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The city was constructed around 600 BCE and became central to Mayan commerce at the time. The large pyramid structures remain a draw for tourists who want to see the sights and honor Mayan heritage. You can which you can learn more about the site by listening to episode two of Travel + Leisure’s podcast, Lost Cultures, Living Legacies.


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Petra is one more ancient city that made the list of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Located in the Kingdom of Jordan, the city was built directly into the cliffside around the 3rd century BCE by the Nabataeans, according to UNESCO. The city includes temples and tombs, along with its most well-known building, The Treasury. You can visit throughout the week, but becomes especially alive during a glamorous night tour.

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