Since ancient times man has had a fascination with listing the world’s must-see wonders, but there can be some confusion for the modern traveller intent on ticking off the top seven current wonders from his bucket list.
The ancient civilisations that were responsible for compiling the first and most famous Seven Wonders, not surprisingly, chose their own feats of creativity and engineering over the natural wonders that had been formed by nature. Unfortunately, lighthouses, colossi and temples were all unable to pass the test of time, and only one of the seven, the Great Pyramid of Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, still stands to be wondered over by visitors today.
Ask for opinions on what comprises the seven wonders of the modern world, and you are likely to become embroiled in a varied, and possibly inconclusive, debate. For the ancients, ‘the world’ only amounted to a region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean where their wonders were all gathered, so the first consideration is whether the vastly increased world with which we are familiar should be restricted to only seven wonders. For the purposes of this article we are going to assume that however many wonders there are in the world, it is the top seven that people are most interested in, especially as that number has taken on an almost mystical significance where ‘wonders’ are concerned.
But do we, like our ancient forefathers, list only impressive edifices constructed by mankind, or do we expand to include the, often very much more impressive, natural creations?
Some years back, US news station, CNN, listed its Seven Wonders of the Natural World as the Grand Canyon in the USA, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, the harbour at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Mount Everest in Nepal, the Northern Lights, seasonally viewable from a number of destinations in the Arctic Circle, the Paricutin Volcano in Mexico, and the Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. That list provides plenty of diverse destinations to occupy even the most ardent traveller for some time to come, but while these can all quite rightly claim to be ‘Wonders’, there are some notable omissions that other opinions might want to see included at the expense of some of those listed. The great dunes of the Sahara Desert for example, or the lakes, mountains and geysers of Yellowstone Park.
And if we take our lead from those that compiled the ancient list, and draw up a new list based on mankind’s own recently constructed creations, suggestions that other sources have noted for inclusion are the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Empire State Building in New York, The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, the Channel Tunnel between the UK and France, the Itapu Dam on the Brazil/Paraguay border, the Panama Canal, Panama, Central America and the North Sea protection works in the Netherlands.
But a worldwide vote taken in 2007 probably came up with a list of accessible wonders that would most resonate with today’s traveller. It blends man’s ingenuity with the romance of history, as well as providing the traveller with the opportunity to visit some of the world’s most stunning and diverse locations. That list included the Colosseum, in Rome, the Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru, the Great Wall of China, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, the Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Mexico, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the Taj Mahal in India.
It is clear that in a world full of many wonders there is no absolute or definitive list of the seven best, it is down to the traveller to make his or her own personal choice. So feel free to use this article’s comment option to list your own seven wonders. You may agree or disagree with the options listed here, add new ones of your own or mix and match options from different lists.
Who knows, perhaps these contributions will provide enough uniformity for us to be able to confidently say that by popular choice, these are the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.