The bright, dancing Northern Lights have been named one of the seven natural wonders due to their incredible beauty and mysterious nature. Also known as Aurora Borealis, this beautiful natural phenomenon appears as a brightly-colored red, green or blue glow in the sky in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the world. In medieval Europe, people believed that the Northern Lights were a sign from God. The Northern Lights occur due to collisions of gaseous particles between the Earth’s atmosphere and the sun’s atmosphere; the variations of these gasses are what produce the beautiful colors.
Stretching across the Golden Gate strait and connecting San Francisco to Marin County, there are few more glorious scenes in the United States than watching the sun set behind this gorgeous red bridge. When construction commenced in 1937 and the bridge opened for traffic, it was the longest suspension bridge on the planet, a position it held at 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) until 1964. It is built of steel and is widely used for tourist and commute reasons. The Golden Gate Bridge sees roughly 110,000 vehicles cross it every day.
The Grand Canyon is maintained by the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, USA. It is a 277-mile-long canyon carved by the Colorado River and while it is neither the widest nor the longest canyon in the world, it is considered one of its seven natural wonders due to its immense beauty and sheer size. The exposed rock in the sides of the canyon provide evidence to the incredible geologic history of the area and it is known that the canyon was once home to several different Native American tribes.
The Paricutin Volcano, located in Michoacán, Mexico, is considered unique simply because its complete evolution has been observed and recorded by humans. A small, lava-covered village beside the volcano shares its name. It is considered part of the Ring of Fire, a large area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are likely to occur. Paricutin’s last eruption occurred in 1952, after the volcano had reached its maximum height at 1,391 feet. Interestingly, the volcano can be seen during its later activity during shots of 20th Century Fox’s 1947 film, Captain from Castile.
This famous tower covers Toronto postcards and is a symbol of the Canadian metropolis. The 553.33 meters (1,815.4 feet) tall structure was the world’s highest freestanding building from 1976 until 2007. It was and is still used as a communications tower for radio, television, and cellular companies. The 147-floor tower also showcases an observation deck that offers stunning views of the city below. Over two million people visit each year; upon first glance, it’s easy to understand why it’s been chosen as one of the modern wonders of the world. It is undoubtedly Canada’s most famed piece of architecture.
Originally built by the Maya civilization as early as 600 AD, Chichen Itza was an important ancient city featuring several famous pyramids and other architectural styles. The ruins of the city are federal property and the invaluable cultural site is maintained by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, hosting well over 1 million tourists per year.
This structure with the famous antenna spire is a symbol of New York City, the Big Apple. The fascinating things is that construction finished in 1931. Immediately, the Empire State Building was heralded as one of the greatest achievements in human history. It ranked as the world’s tallest structure from 1931 until 1970. This 381 meters (1,250 feet) tall building sits on Fifth Avenue near West 34th Street in Manhattan and is known for its charming and bold art-deco design. Its observation deck features breathtaking panoramic vistas of Manhattan and New York City.
While France starting erecting the canal in 1881, they stopped due to the high death toll and issues with construction. America picked up where France left off in 1904 and the canal was finally finished by 1914, 34 years later. All together, about 80,000 lives were taken during the construction – the majority from illness and disease. Dashing across the Isthmus of Panama, it can take 20 to 30 hours to pass this canal, but it sheds 12,875 kilometers (8000 miles) of travel time as it expertly links the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. For that reason, it is a vital piece of engineering for international maritime trade. All together, the canal spans 77 kilometers (48 miles).
Built in the 15th century by the Incas of Peru, the pyramid city of Machu Picchu was abandoned only a century after its creation during the Spanish Conquest. Since conquistadors never discovered this Lost City of the Incas, it remained largely untouched until its rediscovery in 1911, making it a uniquely preserved and important historical artifact. This lost city features many classic Incan building techniques and has taught us a great deal of what we know about Incan civilization today. A century of careful restoration on many of the buildings allows tourists to see what many of the structures originally looked like, and restoration efforts continue to this day.
Absolutely one of the modern wonders of the world, the Itaipu Dam sits between Paraguay and Brazil. No other hydroelectric facility on earth generates more energy. In fact, about 90% of the electricity utilized in Paraguay and nearly 20% of that used in Brazil comes from this dam. It possesses a length of 7,919 meters (25,981 feet) and a height of 196 meters (643 feet). It uses water from the Parana River. “Itaipu” means “the sounding stone” in the local Guarani language. One visit and it’s easy to understand why it’s called that.
Built in 1931 of reinforced concrete and soapstone, the 130 foot tall Christ the Redeemer statue, depicting Jesus Christ looming over the city of Rio de Janeiro with welcoming outstretched arms, remains Brazil’s most instantly recognizable landmark. Designed by Heitor da Silva Costa, this huge statue on Corcovado Mountain cost around $250,000 to build, most of which was given in donation. Though the statue has been damaged by lightning, weather and other natural conditions over the years, restoration efforts have kept it largely intact.
Another of the seven natural wonders of the world is the Harbor at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, also known as Guanabara Bay. The bay stretches approximately 20 miles inland and is surrounded by several beautiful Brazilian cities. Based on the volume of water in the bay, the harbor is considered the largest in the world. Gorgeous, granite mountains encapsulate the bay from all sides; beautiful sunrises and sunsets can also be seen from different areas near the harbor.
The idea came from Albert Mathieu in 1802, but it wasn’t until 1994 that this marvel was opened for transit. With two track lines, passenger trains zip past each other in tubes at a rate of 160 kilometers per hour. Stretching 50.5 kilometers (31.4 miles) in length, this tunnel connects Folkestone, Kent to Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais (England and France). It reaches as low as 250 feet deep and it boasts the lengthiest undersea section of all the tunnels in the world; the Chunnel, as it is affectionately termed, is truly one of the wonders of the modern world.
Also known as the Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, this project is one of the seven wonders of the modern world that has not technically been completed. It is an ongoing process. Over 30% of the Netherlands rests below sea level. For this reason, the project has been undertaken to protect that significant portion of land from the sea. The area, known as the Rhin-Meuse-Scheldt or Helinium river delta, is being helped by dams, floodgates, levees, dykes, and storm surge barriers. Perhaps the most impressive section finished in 1986; it’s a two mile surge barrier that made use of 65 piers of concrete that each were 18,000 tons. The scale of the project alone makes one sit in awe.
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was erected in the Temple of Zeus at the sanctuary of Olympia in 435 B.C. It was created by Greek sculptor Phidias and represented the god Zeus (god of the sky and weather) sitting on a throne. Standing nearly 43 feet tall, the statue was adorned with a sculpted crown of olive sprays, a golden robe and gold sandals. It carried a statue of Nike (the goddess of victory) in one hand and a scepter in the other. The throne was decorated in gold, precious stones, ebony and ivory.
One of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Roman Coliseum is still the largest amphitheatre in the world, holding an estimated audience of between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators at once. It represents one of the greatest architectural and engineering feats ever accomplished by mankind, and was built in a span of just 10 years, reaching completion in 80 A.D. Partially ruined by natural disasters and stone robbers, it remains one of the most iconic symbols of Rome and of Italy.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria stood on the island of Pharos near Alexandria, Egypt, assisted sailors in entering the harbor, which was quite difficult to navigate. The lighthouse was built around 280 B.C. and stood between 393 and 450 feet tall, constructed of three layers of large stone blocks. On top of these layers, a mirror reflected sunlight for more than 35 miles offshore during the day; at night, a fire lit the way.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was a structure dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of fertility. It was built in the city of Ephesus (in present-day Turkey) around 800 B.C. Having been first destroyed by floods around 600 B.C. and then by arson in 356 B.C., this temple had been completely built three times. It was permanently destroyed by the Goths in 262 A.D.
The only one of the original seven wonders that is still visible today, the Great Pyramid of Giza is part of a larger mortuary complex consisting of tombs and other pyramids. It was built around 2560 B.C. using more than 2,000,000 stone blocks weighing two tons each. The Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Great Pyramid of Khufu, was built to house the sarcophagus of the Pharaoh Khufu.
Victoria Falls is a waterfall located in southern Africa, near the boarder between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River. The discovery of Victoria Falls can be attributed to the famous missionary explorer David Livingstone; while it is neither the tallest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is considered the largest due to its make-up resulting in the largest sheet of falling water. The surrounding national parks are home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including lions, zebras, elephants and buffalo; the waterfall itself is home to approximately 130 species of fish and water animals.
King Mausolus ruled Halicarnassus, an ancient city along the Mediterranean, from 377 B.C. until his death in 353 B.C. King Mausolus’ wife Artemisia had a tomb built for him on a hill overlooking the city. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus sat in the center of a courtyard on a stone platform and contained many large and elaborate sculptures. Artemisia died two years later, and both were buried in the tomb, though it had yet to be completed.
The historical city of Petra is Jordan’s most recognizable symbol, and also their most visited tourist attraction. This ancient city, carved and built from the living rock possibly as early as 300 B.C., is often called the Rose City because of the pale red hue of the stone from which it was carved. Although Petra is a carefully protected and treasured site, it remained unknown in the Western world until the early 1800s, and was only designated a World Heritage Site very recently. Its inclusion as one of the New 7 Wonders has increased awareness and tourism dramatically.
The Colossus of Rhodes stood 110 feet tall above the capital city of Rhodes, on a Greek island of the same name. It was erected after the people of Rhodes successfully defeated an attempt by Demetrius (son of the ruler of Cyprus) to conquer the island in 305 B.C. Demetrius’ army left in defeat, abandoning much of their military equipment. Around 304 B.C., the Rhodians sold this equipment in order to finance the statue project. Taking nearly 12 years to complete, the Colossus of Rhodes was built of bronze, marble, iron, and stone. It stood for about 56 years until an earthquake brought it down in 224 B.C.
There are two theories about who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon: Queen Sammu-ramat, who ruled from 810 B.C. to 783 B.C., or King Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled from 605 B.C. to 562 B.C. Described as an artificial mountain with rooftop gardens, mystery still surrounds this ancient wonder as to whether it actually existed or was simply a poetic creation.
Originally built as a mausoleum for the beloved wife of a Mughal emperor, the Taj Majal is possibly the greatest example of Muslim art existing anywhere in the world, and also of the unique Mughal architectural style that combines classic Persian and Indian features. This impressive complex of structures, crowned by its universally recognized white marble dome, represents a feat of architecture, design and art that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain, located in the Himalayas and stretching 29,029 feet above sea level. The international border between China and Nepal runs through the summit point, though it was first determined by the British to be one of the tallest mountains in 1802. While there have been hundreds of expeditions and attempts to reach the peak, it is unknown as to who was actually the first person to successfully climb to the summit of Mount Everest.
The Great Wall of China, famously created to protect the Chinese Empire from invading Mongol hordes, is a segmented series of multiple walls connected by distinctive square shaped guard towers, spanning about 4000 miles. It holds the title of the world’s longest manmade structure, and is testament to wall building techniques found as early as the 7th century B.C., when its dynasty-spanning construction began.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest and most beautiful coral reef. Located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the reef is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world due to its size and incredible beauty. The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 1,800 miles. Due to its immense spread, it is able to be seen from outer space and it is home to hundreds of different species of birds, fish, sea turtles, whales and other animals.