One of the most exciting ways to travel is to identify attractions and places in the world you feel you simply have to see. And what better place to start than with lists of the so-called Wonders of the World? Even that moniker – Wonders of the World – feels exciting, before you even start to consider the specifics.
Many may think first of ancient sites when considering the Wonders of the World, but the truth is that over time the designation has been applied to a growing number of marvels of all different kinds. There are ancient wonders, engineering wonders, modern, “new,” and natural wonders…. By some counts, the list is now close to 100 items long, as far as what qualifies as a Wonder of the World. In this piece though, we’re narrowing things down to 10 of them that you simply have to see if this is a style of exploring the world that appeals to you.
These are in no particular order.
1. The Roman Colosseum – Rome, Italy
Possibly the most famous of the traditionally listed Wonders of the World, the Roman Colosseum is one famous landmark that doesn’t disappoint. While it may be marginally smaller than what some travelers expect if they’re used to modern stadia, it remains absolutely spectacular in its design. It’s in partial ruins, but what’s left (which, really, is most of it) has been painstakingly maintained, such that you actually get a reasonably good feel for what it might have been like to approach the Colosseum or see an event there in the times of the Roman Empire.
2. Torres Del Paine – Patagonia, Chile
Starting with such a well-known wonder as the Roman Colosseum, it only makes sense to follow it up with a more recent addition to this category. Torres del Paine is not actually on many lists of this nature just yet, but Condé Nast Traveller included it as a new wonder for 2019, and now that they’ve started the conversation it’s hard to imagine this won’t become recognized as one of the great natural marvels of our world. It’s a full Patagonian national park in its totality, though the three granite peaks from which the name of the park comes are the most unique and awe-inspiring attraction.
3. Stonehenge – Amesbury, England
Stonehenge is the sort of place many people have heard about and seen pictures of so often that it becomes almost less extraordinary. When you really put yourself in the mode of visiting this ancient wonder in person though, things may change. The idea that these 25-ton stones were arranged as such some four-to-five thousand years ago is almost impossible to fathom when you see them up close. As a result there really is something magical about the place (which is not to give any credence to the Ancient Aliens-style theorists who believe the stones were set in place by extraterrestrials).
4. The Great Wall Of China – China
The Great Wall of China is actually similar to Stonehenge in that it may almost seem ordinary simply because it’s so famous. In person though, you can be dumbstruck by even a single length of the wall – never mind the fact that it stretches in either direction for 13,000 total miles! It’s an astounding achievement, and it just happens to wind through some incredibly beautiful portions of China. A hike along the wall can be one of the most peaceful and extraordinary experiences one can find in this world.
5. Victoria Falls – Zambia & Zimbabwe
As natural wonders go, Victoria Falls is one of the most frequently mentioned, and certainly one of the most spectacular. Running along a portion of the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, the Victoria Falls are part of the Zambezi River, and resemble some sort of massive, beautiful crack in the world. From certain angles it really is as if the world simply splits at the Falls, with waters cascading downward to no end and unspeakably gorgeous scenery in all directions.
6. The Great Pyramid Of Giza – Giza, Egypt
Like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid of Giza can almost be cheapened by some of the rumors, theories, and interpretations of it. It, too, is a subject of Ancient Aliens believers, and it’s also a popular centerpiece of video games. The Egyptians’ belief that pharaohs would be reborn has inspired the video game “Pyramid: Quest For Immortality Slot” as well as the recent cinematic reboot of The Mummy, both of which mask true history with fictionalized mysticism. In reality though, the Great Pyramid is nothing short of jaw-dropping. As with Stonehenge, it’s simply hard to imagine how it came to be, and all the more fascinating when you consider it as the enduring miracle of one of history’s most fascinating nations.
7. Christ The Redeemer – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Standing 125 feet tall, Christ The Redeemer is not particularly extraordinary in and of itself. The Statue Of Liberty’s torch is 305 feet above ground level; the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall; India’s statue of the activist Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is 597 feet tall, as the record for a modern statue of a human being. Yet Christ The Redeemer’s overall presentation – arms outspread overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, which in itself is counted as a Wonder of the World by some – is astounding. Really, it’s like visiting something that might appear in a fantasy tale rather than our own world.
8. Banaue Rice Terraces – Ifugao, Philippines
Most wonders can fall under the heading of either “man-made” or “natural,” but the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines are essentially both. They were carved into the Ifugao mountains many centuries ago, and are used even now for the planting of rice and various vegetables. Now, they simply look like vibrant, unusual mountains, unmistakably altered by man’s touch, and yet still distinctly natural in their appearance.
9. Petra – Jordan
Petra is an ancient city that is really every bit as fascinating as, say, the remnants of ancient Egypt, yet seems to get only a fraction of the attention. Believed to have first been occupied roughly 9,000 years ago (long before the Great Pyramid was built), it was re-discovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer. Now, it’s a fairly popular tourist destination and an absolute wonder to behold, not only because of its age and remarkable preservation, but because it is carved largely into red sandstone formations. It is almost as much a network of altered caves as it is a city.
10. The Grand Canyon – Arizona, United States
Perhaps the greatest natural wonder of the western world, the Grand Canyon is incomparable in its magnificence. Nearly 300 miles long and over a mile deep in places, it’s essentially an entire region unto itself within Arizona. Stunning rock formations, deep valleys, the winding Colorado River, and numerous hiking and horseback riding trails make up most of what you can see and enjoy if you visit. The visuals, though, are what you’ll never forget.