If you’re an avid traveler, there might be a few places on your bucket list that represent the pinnacle of your wanderlust goals. Whether it’s a place that gives you #fomo every time you scroll through Instagram or just a desire to touch every corner of the world, you’ve rated these places as “must-sees.” But if you’re still looking for a bit of travel inspiration, the Seven New Wonders of the World should most definitely be at the top of your rankings.
These seven landmarks were selected out of more than 200 entries via a massive international poll that the governing body claimed received over 100 million votes. The iconic monuments on this list represent the apex of human ingenuity, engineering, and culture. And though they might be the "new" wonders, we'd venture to say they're timeless in their own right.
Christ the Redeemer
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Unless you avoid images of Brazil at all costs, you’ve seen that iconic statue on the top of Sugarloaf Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The official name of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched is “Christ the Redeemer,” and this is the only modern wonder. The statue is 98 feet tall—just about two thirds as tall as the Statue of Liberty. In addition to being a new wonder, the landmark is also a popular tourist destination. The Art Deco statue was built between 1922 and 1931. While you can walk up the mountain via a challenging road, most people take the Sugarloaf Cable Cars for a more picturesque experience and a faster, two- to three-minute trip.
The Great Wall of China
Location: Beijing, China
The Great Wall of China really needs no introduction as it’s one of the many “new wonders” on this list that is actually quite old. The wall was intended to protect the country from nomadic invaders from Mongolia—also known as Huns. As history has revealed, manmade barriers existed in this region as far back as seventh century BC. However, the first serious wall is credited to China’s first ruler, Emperor Qin Shi Huang, and that construction occurred between 220 and 206 BC. Future dynasties continued to add to the wall with most of the iconic architecture being erected under the Ming Dynasty between the 14th and 17th centuries. Even though you can visit the wall from various points in China, most travelers agree that Beijing offers the best sections.
Location: Agra, India
If you take a trip to India, you absolutely must visit the Taj Mahal, even if it’s not close to your other destinations. You might be surprised to find that this beautiful building is part of a massive complex, and the iconic structure is really a mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A lesser known fact is that he intended to have a complementing mausoleum built for himself to face his wife’s resting place across the Yamuna River. But an embittered battle with his son halted those plans. Instead, he was buried in the Taj Mahal next to his wife. Work on the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and was completed in 1653.
Location: Rome, Italy
Once upon a time, all roads led to Rome, and the Colosseum was a central and imposing structure in the city-state. Most of us think of the Colosseum as a place where gladiator battles and chariot races occurred. But this central amphitheater was so much more. Built between 72 and 80 AD, the building also served as a space for dramas and historical battle re-enactments. Even after the Roman Empire fell, the space continued to serve as a gathering place under Christian rulers. To this day, the Pope leads the “Way of the Cross” procession into the Colosseum every Good Friday.
The City of Petra
Location: Petra, Jordan
Sometimes it’s mind-blowing to imagine that people who lived in ancient times were able to build these massive architectural structures into the rock faces. Considering that they didn’t have the modern construction tools that we have today, when you see a place like the city of Petra in present-day Jordan, you’re going to be humbled. Even though a concrete date hasn’t been confirmed, Petra is believed to have first been established in 312 BC. The Arab Nabataeans were the first people to settle in the region, which was located near major trade routes. In addition to the architecture, the city is also considered a feat because of the waterways that were created.
Location: Valladolid, Mexico
When you say “pyramid,” most people think of Egypt, but the idea of a four-sided triangular structure isn’t limited to the Middle East. North and Central America have a number of step-pyramids built by pre-Columbian cultures. Chichen Itza is one such place with a popular tourist attraction. The Temple of Kukulcan is an ancient pyramid built by the Maya in honor of one of their well-known gods, Kukulcan, a feathered serpent deity similar to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. The temple was built between the 9th and 12th centuries AD.
Location: Cuzco, Peru
If you’re willing to brave the incredible heights and risk altitude sickness, Machu Picchu offers breathtaking views. Located in Cuzco, Peru, the site is one of the most recognizable symbols of Inca civilization. Machu Picchu was built around 1450 but was abandoned when Spanish conquistadors began to enter the region a century later. The city remained hidden from outside influence until the American historian Hiram Bingham reached it in 1911. If you visit this site, know that some buildings and structures have been reconstructed for a more complete representation of traditional Inca architecture.