The Seven Wonders of the World

Learn About the Ancient and Modern 7 Wonders of the World

The Pyramids at Giza
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The Seven Wonders of the World has historically been a listing of seven sites known to the Ancient Greeks as the most notable locales in their known world.

Since then, many have developed lists of the "modern" Seven Wonders of the World. The only list that really stands out and has stood the test of time for more than a decade is the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World

  1. The Colossus of Rhodes: A statue of the Greek sun god Helios. Built in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC, the nearly 100-foot-high statue was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 B.C.
  2. The Great Pyramid of Giza: With construction that ended around 2560 B.C., the pyramid is the oldest of the original seven wonders. The massive structure still stands in Egypt.
  3. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: With little historical documentation, not much is known of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. They may be mythical, they may have been built by king Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 B.C., or they may have been located in the Assyrian city of Nineveh by king Sennacherib around 700 B.C.
  4. The Lighthouse of Alexandria: Built around 280 B.C., the Lighthouse of Alexandria stood around 400 feet tall and was the tallest building in the world for centuries. It was damaged by several earthquakes, and in 1480, its ruins were used to construct the Citadel of Qaitbay, a fortress that still stands on Pharos Island.
  1. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus: Located in today's Bodrum, Turkey, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was built as the tomb of Mausolus around 350 B.C. The structure was destroyed by a series of earthquakes between the 12th and 15th centuries.
  2. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia: Built sometime around 435 B.C. by the Greek sculptor Phidias, the statue stood over 40 feet tall and represented Zeus on a cedar throne. The work was ornamented with gold and ivory. The statue was lost or destroyed sometime in the 5th century, although the exact nature of the work's loss remain unknown.
  1. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus: Located in eastern Turkey, the Temple of Artemis's age is unknown, for it was rebuilt several times. The third temple, and the one referenced by the Greeks as a wonder of the world, was constructed beginning in 323 B.C. The structure was destroyed by the Goths in 268 A.D.

The Seven Wonders of the Modern World (see photos)

  1. Channel Tunnel: The 50 kilometer tunnel running under the English Channel to connect England to France.
  2. CN Tower: The 533 meter-high needle-like tower in downtown Toronto, Canada. At the time of its construction in 1976, it was the tallest building in the world. 
  3. Empire State Building: The iconic skyscraper in Manhattan, New York City. The 102-story building was the tallest in the world from 1931 to 1970.
  4. Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco's iconic bridge first opened in 1937 and was the world's longest suspension bridge for nearly 30 years.
  5. Itaipu Dam: Located on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, the Itaipu Dam is the second largest in the world for energy generation.
  6. Netherlands North Sea Protection Works: A massive series of dams, levees, locks, and barriers that protect the low-lying Netherlands from the sea.
  7. Panama Canal: Completed in 1917, the massive engineering project connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. A new and larger canal opened in 2016.

    Seven Natural Wonders of the World

    In 1997, CNN announced a listing of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World...

    1. Grand Canyon
    2. The Great Barrier Reef
    3. The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
    4. Mt. Everest
    5. Northern Lights
    6. Paricutin Volcano
    7. Victoria Falls

    The "New" Seven Wonders of the World

    On July 7, 2007 (7-7-07) an organization announced a "new" set of the Seven Wonders of the World based on online voting from around the world...

    1. Chichen Itza, Mexico - Mayan City
    2. Christ Redeemer, Brazil - Large Statue
    3. The Great Wall, China
    4. Machu Picchu, Peru
    5. Petra, Jordan - Ancient City
    6. The Roman Colosseum, Italy
    7. The Taj Mahal, India

    Ultimately, any list of the Seven Wonders of the World is subjective, based on the individual or group of individuals who developed the list. No one list is authoritative, even the original Ancient list. But looking at and learning from these lists and how they change over time can tell us a lot about our cultural values and accomplishments.

    Article edited and expanded by Allen Grove.