Eight Wonders of the Modern World

Taking a selfie overlooking Machu Picchu. Photo Credit: VictorRodriguez.


Eight Wonders of the Modern World comprise seven monuments chosen by voters in a global contest and the Great Pyramid in Egypt. These  monuments would make a great short-list of must see attractions. And imagine the great selfies you could take!

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The ancient Greeks believed that there were Seven Wonders of the World. These wonders included the following sites …

  • Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  • Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus,
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Not surprisingly, all of these so-called “wonders”  were located around the Mediterranean Sea. And Greece has the longest coastline along the Mediterranean basin.

So the Greeks were only familiar with places relatively close to home. How could they have known about the Great Wall of China or the pyramids of Egypt or Mexico?

What is surprising is that only one of these ancient wonders has survived to the present day.

That is to say, the Great Pyramid of Giza still exists on the sands outside the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

New7Wonders of the World


In 2001, the Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation launched an initiative to select the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Much to the annoyance of Egypt, the Great Pyramid of Giza was competing with such 20th century marvels as the Statue of Liberty in the United States and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

More than 100 million votes were cast in a global poll. And when the results were announced, there was more than annoyance in Egypt.

The Great Pyramid of Giza hadn’t even made the list! Adding insult to injury, a much smaller and much younger pyramid in Mexico did make the list!

In the end, the Egyptian pyramid was given “honourary” status. Consequently, there is a total of eight rather than seven modern wonders of the world.

However, whether the pyramid in Egypt should be included is open to debate.

Eight Wonders of the Modern World – a Tour

A tour of the Modern Wonders of the Modern World would ideally start at the site closest to home.

Since I live in Hong Kong, my first stop would be the Great Wall of China. From there I would travel westward through India. Next, I would makes stops in the Middle East and North Africa. Subsequently, I would head north to Europe.

After that, I would travel across the Atlantic Ocean to South America, where I would make two stops. Finally, I would fly north to Mexico.

In fact, your starting point could really be any one of the stops along the way. And you could travel either eastward or westward.

In conclusion, the key is to keep traveling in the same general direction. Otherwise, you would be retracing your steps.

Great Wall of China – China

Taking a selfie at the Great Wall of China. Photo Credit: Sid Verma.

The Great Wall of China is one of the Eight Wonders of the Modern World. Not only that. It is also one of the China’s most popular sightseeing attractions.

Most importantly, it is one of the two wonders of the world that I have already had the chance to visit.

And it IS pretty spectacular! As Richard Nixon once famously said, “This IS a great wall!”

In fact, many travelers would say that you haven’t seen China if you haven’t been to the Great Wall.

Indeed, the Great Wall of China is a massive structure. But contrary to popular belief, it is not really visible from the moon.

And not only that. The Great Wall of China is not really just one wall. In addition, it is not even a wall!

In fact, the Great Wall of China is a  collection of fortifications that were built to protect China from invading nomads from the north.

And they weren’t all built at the same time. Actually, the first sections were built in the Seventh Century BC. And the most recent sections of the Great Wall were built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644).

More importantly, several of the fortifications were joined together by Qin Shihuang (220 – 206 BC). And Qin was the first emperor of China.

Interestingly, the Western name for China comes from his surname, Qin. And qin is  actually pronounced as chin in English. So qin evolved into “China” in English.

The best times to visit the Great Wall are March to May and September to October. This is when the skies tend to be clearest and bluest. They will provide the best backdrop for taking selfies.

  • Closest major international airport: Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). There are several spots to view the Great Wall near Beijing. The distance from the airport to Mutianyu is 66 kilometers (41 miles). The distance from the airport to Juyongguan is 61 kilometers (38 miles). And the distance from the airport to Badaling is 73 kilometers (46 miles).

Taj Mahal – India

Taking a selfie at the Taj Mahal. Photo Credit: Blake Barlow.

The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. A Mughal emperor named Shah Mahan had it built in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. 

In addition to housing her tomb, it also houses the tomb of the emperor himself. It was completed in AD 1648.

Taking a selfie in front of the Taj Mahal has been on the bucket list of international travelers since long before Instagram was thought of!

The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is March to June. That is when the skies will offer the best backdrop for taking selfies!

Closest major international airport: Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) is 180 kilometers from the Taj Mahal. Agra Airport (AGR) is a local airport serving the city of Agra. The next closest airport is Gwalior (GWL).

Petra – Jordan

Al Khazneh, the Treasury, in Petra, Jordan. Photo Credit: Andrea-Leopardi

The ancient city of Petra is one of the world’s most important historical and archaeological sites. It is also the most popular tourist attraction in Jordan.

Petra is famous for the structures carved in stone from canyon walls. Because of the pink hue of the stone, it is often called the Rose City.

Farmers settled in the region as early as 7000 BC. The city was completed in 100 BC.

The best times to visit Petra are April, May, and October. It is best to avoid visiting in December, January, and February.

Closest major international airport: Queen Ali International Airport (AMM) is the largest and busiest airport in Jordan. It is 102 miles (164 kilometers) from Petra. King Hussein International Airport (AQJ) is the closest airport. It is 91 kilometers (57 miles) from Petra.

Great Pyramid of Giza – Egypt

Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Photo Credit: Kian CHow.,

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt was named an “honorary candidate”. It brings the number of the wonders of the modern world to eight.

But some purists don’t include it in the New7Wonders of the World.

The pyramid is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids at the site, which is near the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Workers spent 10 to 20 years building it. And it was completed in 2560 BC.

The best times to visit Cairo are March, April, October, and November.

Closest international airport: Cairo International Airport (CAI) is 23 kilometers (14 miles) from the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Roman Colosseum – Italy

Taking a phone of the Roman Colosseum with a mobile device. Photo Credit: Neela Jalilian.

The Roman Colosseum is an oval amphitheater. It is made of limestone, volcanic rock, and brick-faced concrete.

The impressive edifice sits in the heart of Rome, the Italian capital. It was completed in AD 80.

The best times to visit Rome are May and September.

Closest international airport: Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) is 31 kilometers ( from the Roman Colosseum.

Christ the Redeemer – Brazil

Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janairo, Brazil. Photo Credit: ckturistando.

Christ the Redeemer is a statue of Jesus Christ. It sits atop Corcovado Mountain in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

And the imposing statue is the only structure built in the modern era to make the New7Wonders of the World list. It was completed in AD 1931.

More importantly, Rio is only the second site on the New7Wonders of the World list that I have visited so far.

The best time to visit Rio is December through March. That is when the skies over A Cidade Maravhilhosa – or the Marvelous City – are at their bluest.

And believe me, there is more to take photos of than the statue. With the dramatic  landscapes and spectacular seascapes, Rio offers the world’s most photogenic urban setting.

Closest international airport: Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport (SDU) is 28 kilometers (… miles) from the statue.  Santos Dumont Airport serves domestic travel destinations.

Machu Picchu – Peru

Taking a selfie overlooking Machu Picchu. Photo Credit: VictorRodriguez.

Did Machu Picchu serve as a royal estate for ancient emperors and empresses? At least, that is what modern archaeologists think.

The compound was of limestone in the middle of the 15th century. And it was abandoned in 1572. 

The best time to visit Machu Picchu is May through October, when the weather tends to be dry and cool.

The rest of the year the hike up could be muddy. And the gray skies won’t make a good backdrop for selfies.

Closest international airport: Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima is the closet airport with international service. From there, transfer to a flight to Velasco Astete International Airport in Cuzco.

Chichen Itza – Mexico

Chichen Itza. Photo Credit: Filip Gielsa.

Chichen Itza is a pre-Columbian architectural site in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mexico. 

Built by the Mayans, the pyramid was completed in AD 600.

The best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula is mid-November through mid-February.

Closest major international airport: Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) in Mexico City is 692 miles (1,114 kilometers) from Chichen Itza. It is served by 

Mérida International Airport 117.5 kilometers (73.0 miles ), Cozumel International Airport is 171.8 kilometers (106.7 miles), Cancún International Airport 180.5 kilometers (112.2 miles) and Campeche International Airport 223.0 kilometers (138.6 miles).

Chichen Itza vs. Great Pyramid of Giza

Except for their shape, Chichen Itza and the Great Pyramid of Giza don’t have much in common.

First of all the Great Pyramid at Giza is much older. While it was built 4,500 years ago, Chiche Itza is a relative baby. In fact, it was completed fully 3,500 years later.

Secondly, the Egyptian pyramid is fully five times taller than its Mexican counterparts!

Finally, the pyramid in Egypt was a tomb. And the pyramid in Mexico was a temple.

So how could Chichen Itza trump the Great Pyramid of Giza? Most probably, it is because it was selected through a popularity contest rather than scientific analysis.

According to the New7Wonders Foundation, more than 100 million votes were cast through the Internet or by telephone.

While people voting on the Internet could only vote once, people voting by telephone were not limited. Therefore, many people said that the voting was not scientific.

Interestingly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) refused to endorse the project.

There is no comparison between [New7Wonders of the World] mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The list of the 8 New Wonders of the World will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the Internet and not the entire world. This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public. – UNESCO


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