Seven Wonders of the World

From New World Encyclopedia

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom): Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Maussollos, Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria as depicted by sixteenth-century Dutch artist Maarten van Heemskerck.

The Seven Wonders of the World (or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) is a widely known list of seven remarkable constructions of antiquity. It was based on guide-books popular among Hellenic sightseers and includes only works located around the Mediterranean rim. Later lists include those for the medieval world and the modern world.

The original Seven Wonders of the World consists of: The Great Pyramid of Giza (the most ancient as well as the only surviving structure), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The notion of "Seven Wonders" can be traced to a Hellenistic recognition of trans-cultural human achievement that found expression throughout the Hellenistic world. For thousands of years, the Seven Wonders of the World have inspired humankind as representative works symbolic of the great civilizations of antiquity. In terms of innovative design, elaborate construction, technological mastery, and symbolic meaning, the Seven Wonders have not only showcased the high points of diverse civilizations, but tied humankind together in the common pursuit of intellectual excellence and self-expression.

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The historian Herodotus and the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene (c. 305 – 240 B.C.E.) made early lists of "seven wonders," but these writings have not survived, except as references. The earliest extant version of a list of seven wonders was compiled by Antipater of Sidon, who described the structures in a poem around 140 B.C.E.:

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Sun, and the huge labor of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, "Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand"[1]

A later list, under various titles such as De septem orbis spactaculis and traditionally, though incorrectly, attributed to the engineer Philo of Byzantium, may date as late as the fifth century C.E., although the author writes as if the Colossus of Rhodes, destroyed by an earthquake in 224 B.C.E., were still standing.

The basic characteristics of each of the Seven Wonders are given in the table below:

Wonder Date of construction Builder Notable features Date of destruction Cause of destruction
Great Pyramid of Giza 2650 – 2500 B.C.E. Egyptians Built as the tomb of Fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. Still standing -
Hanging Gardens of Babylon 600 B.C.E. Babylonians Herodotus claimed the outer walls were 56 miles in length, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high (although some archaeological findings suggest otherwise). After first century B.C.E. Earthquake
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus 550 B.C.E. Lydians, Persians, Greeks Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, the temple was begun by Croesus of Lydia and took 120 years to build. It was destroyed by arson in 356 B.C.E., rebuilt and destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262, rebuilt again and finally demolished by a mob allegedly led by John Chrysostom.[2] 356 B.C.E. and 401 C.E. Arson and later demolition
Statue of Zeus at Olympia 435 B.C.E. Greeks Occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple that was built to house it, and was 40 feet tall. fifth and sixth centuries C.E. Fire
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus 351 B.C.E. Persians, Greeks Stood approximately 135 feet tall with each of the four sides adorned with sculptural reliefs. Origin of the word mausoleum. by 1494 C.E. Earthquake
Colossus of Rhodes 292 – 280 B.C.E. Hellenistic Greece A giant statue of the Greek god Helios roughly the same size as today's Statue of Liberty in New York. 224 B.C.E. Earthquake
Lighthouse of Alexandria Third century B.C.E. Hellenistic Egypt Between 383 feet to 440 feet tall it was among the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries. 1303 – 1480 C.E. Earthquake
Did you know?
Instead of the Seven "Wonders" the ancient Greeks spoke of "theamata" or "sights," "things worth seeing"

The Greek category to describe what people call "wonders" today was "theamata," which translates as "something worth seeing" or "must-sees." Since the list came mostly from ancient Greek writings, only sites that would have been known and visited by the ancient Greeks were included. Sites from eastern Asia, the Americas, Africa, and northern Europe were thus omitted. Five of the seven entries are a celebration of Greek accomplishments in the arts and architecture (the exceptions being the Pyramids of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). Antipater's earlier list replaced the Lighthouse of Alexandria with the Babylon's famous Ishtar Gate.

It was not until the sixth century C.E. that the list above was used. Of these wonders, the only one that has survived to the present day is the Great Pyramid of Giza. One of wonders, the Temple of Artemis, was destroyed intentionally, first by arson and finally by a mob allegedly led by the Christian bishop St. John Chrysostom. The Statue of Zeus was destroyed by fire. Four of the wonders were destroyed by earthquakes—the Hanging Gardens, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Mausoleum of Maussollos. (The existence of the Hanging Gardens, however, has not been definitively proven.) There are sculptures from the Mausoleum of Maussollos and the Temple of Artemis in the British Museum in London.

Later lists

The Colosseum

Many lists of "wonders of the world" are said to have existed during the Middle Ages, although it is unlikely that these lists originated at that time. These lists go by names such as "Wonders of the Middle Ages" (implying no specific limitation to seven), "Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages," "Medieval Mind," and "Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages." Many of the structures on these lists were built much earlier than the Medieval Ages, but were well known. The lists are more properly seen as a continuing type or genre in the Seven Wonders tradition than a specific list.

The following is a typical representative of such lists:

Other sites that have been mentioned include:

  • Cairo Citadel
  • Ely Cathedral
  • Taj Mahal
  • Cluny Abbey

Modern lists

Many lists have been made of the greatest structures built during modern times or of the greatest wonders existing today. Some of the most notable lists are presented below.

American Society of Civil Engineers

The American Society of Civil Engineers compiled a list of wonders of the modern world:[3]

Wonder Date Started Date Finished Locations
Channel Tunnel December 1, 1987 May 6, 1994 Strait of Dover, between the United Kingdom and France
CN Tower February 6, 1973 June 26, 1976, tallest land structure in the world until September 12, 2007. Surpassed by Burj Dubai Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Empire State Building January 22, 1930 May 1, 1931 New York, NY, U.S.
Golden Gate Bridge January 5, 1933 May 27, 1937 Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, U.S.
Itaipu Dam January 1970 May 5, 1984 Paraná River, between Brazil and Paraguay
Delta Works 1950 May 10, 1997 Netherlands
Panama Canal January 1, 1880 January 7, 1914 Isthmus of Panama

New7Wonders Foundation's seven wonders of the world

Great Wall of China
The Taj Mahal
Machu Pichu
The Grand Canyon

In 2001, an initiative was started by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation to choose the New Seven Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments for profit.[4] Twenty-one finalists were announced on January 1, 2006.[5] Egypt was not happy with the fact that the only original wonder would have to compete with the likes of the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, and other landmarks; and called the project absurd. To solve this, Giza was named an honorary Candidate. The results were announced on July 7, 2007 in Benfica's stadium in a big ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal:[6]

Wonder Date of construction Location
Great Wall of China Fifth century B.C.E. – sixteenth century CE China
Petra Sixth century B.C.E. Jordan
Christ the Redeemer Opened October 12, 1931 Brazil
Machu Picchu c. 1450 Peru
Chichen Itza c. 600 Mexico
Roman Colosseum Completed 80 C.E. Italy
Taj Mahal Completed c. 1648 India
Great Pyramid (Honorary Candidate) Completed c. 2560 B.C.E. Egypt

USA Today's New Seven Wonders

In November 2006, the American national newspaper, USA Today, in cooperation with the American television show, Good Morning America, revealed a list of New Seven Wonders as chosen by six judges. The wonders were announced one per day over a week on Good Morning America. An eighth wonder was chosen on November 24 from viewer feedback.[7]

Number Wonder Location
1 Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet, China
2 Old City of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel
3 Polar ice caps Polar regions
4 Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Hawaii, United States
5 Internet N/A
6 Maya ruins Yucatán Peninsula, México
7 Great Migration of Serengeti and Masai Mara Tanzania and Kenya
8 Grand Canyon (viewer-chosen eighth wonder) Arizona, United States

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, as there has been debate over how large the list should be. One of the many lists was compiled by CNN:[8]

Seven wonders of the underwater world

An aerial photograph of the Great Barrier Reef

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, who played in a TV show titled Sea Hunt:[9]

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

Schematic of the Panama Canal, illustrating the sequence of locks and passages

British author Deborah Cadbury wrote Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, a book telling the stories of seven great feats of engineering of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 2003 the BBC made a seven-part documentary series on the book, with each episode dramatising the construction one of the wonders. The seven industrial wonders are:

Travel wonders of the world

Travel writer Howard Hillman is one of many such writers who has compiled lists of the top man-made[10] and natural[11] tourist travel wonders of the world.

Man-made travel wonders

Forbidden City located in the center of Beijing, China
  1. Giza pyramid complex
  2. Great Wall of China
  3. Taj Mahal
  4. Machu Picchu
  5. Bali
  6. Angkor Wat
  7. Forbidden City
  8. Bagan Temples & Pagodas
  9. Karnak Temple
  10. Teotihuacán

Natural travel wonders

Victoria Falls, seen from the Zambian side.
  1. Serengeti Migration
  2. Galápagos Islands
  3. Grand Canyon
  4. Iguazu Falls
  5. Amazon Rainforest
  6. Ngorongoro Crater
  7. Great Barrier Reef
  8. Victoria Falls
  9. Bora Bora
  10. Cappadocia


  1. Paul Trebilco, The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007, ISBN 0802807690).
  2. John Freely, The Western Shores of Turkey: Discovering the Aegean and Mediterranean Coast (Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2004, ISBN 978-1850436188).
  3. Civil Engineering Wonders Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  4. New Seven Wonders New 7 Wonders. Retrieved April 8, 2022
  5. Finalist Page New 7 Wonders. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  6. Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled ABC News, July 7, 2008. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  7. What Are The USA Today 7 Wonders Of The World? Listerious, December 15, 2020.
  8. The Seven Natural Wonders of the World CNN, 1997. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  9. The Seven Underwater Wonders of the World Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  10. Howard Hillman, World's top 10 man-made travel wonders Hillman's Top 10 Lists for Travelers. Retrieved April 8 2022.
  11. Howard Hillman, World's top 10 natural travel wonders, Hillman's Top 10 Lists for Travelers. Retrieved April 8 2022.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Cox, Reg, and Neil Morris. The Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Chelsea House Publications, 2000. ISBN 0791060489.
  • Cox, Reg, Neil Morris, and James Field. The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World. Chelsea House Publications, 2000. ISBN 0791060470.
  • D'Epiro, Peter, and Mary Desmond Pinkowish. What Are the Seven Wonders of the World? and 100 Other Great Cultural Lists. Anchor, 1998. ISBN 0385490623.
  • Freely, John. The Western Shores of Turkey: Discovering the Aegean and Mediterranean Coast. Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2004. ISBN 978-1850436188
  • Morris, Neil. The Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Chrysalis Books, 2002. ISBN 184138495X.
  • Trebilco, Paul. The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007. ISBN 0802807690

External links

All links retrieved January 26, 2023.

Seven Ancient Wonders

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World]

Other wonders


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.