What are the Seven Wonders of the World? we’ve all heard of them but what are they and how did they come to be? I’ve wondered about them, because I am sure over the years I have heard of more than seven. Since I recently explored Chichen Itza, a wonder of the world, and a UNESCO heritage site,  I thought I would learn more.

The original list comes from a work by Philo of Byzantium written in 225 B.C. called On The Seven Wonders. In other research I found that a list was determined by Greek Historian Herodatus who lived from 484 – 425 BC. Regardless of its origins, there was no question of what was on this list now often referred to as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World or the Original Seven Wonders of the World. They were:

  • Great Pyramid of Giza, in El Giza, Egypt
  • Colossus of Rhodes in Greece
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt.
  • Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Turkey
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece.
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey

Of these 7 wonders, 4 were destroyed by an earthquake, 2 by fire and only the Great Pyramid of Giza still exists today. However, it is still possible to visit where some of these wonders were.

Over the years many variations of this list have been created, and today we have the New Seven Wonders of the World, but how did this happen and who decided what was worthy of the list?

In 2000 a Swiss foundation, the New Seven Wonders Foundation, lead by Canadian-Swiss Bernard Weber launched a campaign to determine the New Seven Wonders of the World. Given that the original Seven Wonders list was compiled at a time that much of the rest of the world had not yet been discovered and that only the Pyramids of Giza remained. It was time for an update. This time people around the world were invited to vote, more than 100 million votes were cast via the Internet or by text message. The final results were not announced until 2007, and we can likely agree there are still so many that are worthy of this list as well. It is also important to note that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization initially was in support of this venture, but then distanced itself from the whole endeavour, as there was a lot of controversy regarding the whole process.

The New Seven Wonders of the World

  • Great Wall of China
  • Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
  • The city of Petra in Jordan
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  • The Colosseum in Rome
  • Taj Mahal in Agra, India

It is interesting to note that all of these “wonders” appear on UNESCO’s list as well, with exception that in Brazil it is the area where the Christ the Redeemer statue exists, not the statue itself. In all I think all of the “wonders” are worthy of the list, but I think the list could be expanded, and perhaps have a more scientific approach to the selection and not subjected to the popular vote, where apparently people were able to vote more than once.


Here is another list that I think is worth noting, the official list of the 7 Natural Wonders was compiled by CNN, in collaboration with the Seven Natural Wonders organization.

  • Mount Everest, Nepal
  • Parucutin Volcano in Mexico
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa
  • The Harbour of Rio de Janeiro
  • The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  • Aurora Borealis, can be seen in Northern Canada, Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland