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Wandering among the ruins of Machu Picchu evokes a haunting sense of the past
Machu Picchu is one of the world's great wonders. The vast ruins, rediscovered by Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911, attracts thousands every year. Most come via train from Cusco to a small village at the base of the Urubamba Gorge, the take a bus ride thousands of feet up a switchback road to the entrance. Others hike the Inca Trail and enter near dawn via the Sun Gate, which overlooks the ruins.
Peru's Machu Picchu, One of the World's Great Wonders
A Sun Gate View of Peru's Machu Picchu, One of the World's Great Wonders
Hiking in Peru's Machu Picchu, One of the World's Wonders
Lamas and People Meet in Peru's Machu Picchu, One of the World's Wonders
Family Hiking in Peru's Machu Picchu, One of the World's Great Wonders
The Sacred Rock at Peru's Machu Picchu, One of the World's Great Wonders
Machu Picchu at Dawn is Spectacular
People Gather at Machu Picchu, Peru to Watch the Sunrise
Viewing Llamas Up Close at Machu Picchu, Peru
Native Indians Sell Hand-woven Blankets at Travelers in Aguas Calientes, Peru
People Hike Down the Sun Gate Trail to Peru's Machu Picchu's Main Ruins
Llamas Wander Around the Ruins at Machu Picchu, Peru
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Labels: Machu Picchu
Little surprise, many of our favorite creations were designed with a heavenly audience in mind, whether in the depths of a Cambodian jungle, on an Athenian or Peruvian hilltop, or deep in a Mexican peninsula. While a list of this sort could easily cover just ancient wonders like these, we've left room for modern and contemporary marvels, too, picking a good dose of both, on homegrown soil and as far away as Asia, while also looking to the future—and pegging a cutting-edge city with the promise of wonders still to come.
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Pyramids of Giza, Egypt: The only surviving structures of the original seven wonders, the three pyramids were built as tombs for pharaohs 4,500 years ago. Nearby is the Great Sphinx statue.
The Great Pyramids of Giza are the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to remain in existence today—and, as such, are a must on any list of this kind. Travelers in search of the ultimate testament to one of the world's most ancient civilizations are guaranteed a profound sensory impact when confronted with the pyramids' epic scale: The Pyramid of Cheops—or the Great Pyramid—is the most mammoth of the Pharaoic monuments to dominate the Giza Plateau, where a trio of king's pyramids, several smaller queens' pyramids, and mastabas speckle the plain in the shadow of the spectacular Sphinx.
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WINNER—One of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Great Wall of China: The 4,160-mile barricade running from east to west is the world's longest man-made structure. The construction of the wall took place over hundreds of years, beginning in the seventh century B.C.
Even after you dispense with the myths that it is a single continuous structure and that it can be seen from space (it can't, any more than a fishing line can be seen from the other side of a river), China's best-known attraction is still mind-boggling. The world's largest historical site is referred to in Mandarin as Wanli Changcheng ("10,000-Li Long Wall" or simply "Very Long Wall"). The Great Wall begins at Shanhai Guan on the Bo Hai Sea and snakes west to a fort at Jiayu Guan in the Gobi Desert. Its origins date back to the Warring States Period (453-221 B.C.), when rival kingdoms began building defensive walls to thwart each other's armies. The king of Qin, who eventually conquered the other states to become the first emperor of a unified China, engaged in large-scale wall building toward the end of his reign, although tales of 300,000 conscripted laborers are embellishments of subsequent dynasties. During the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), the Wall was extended west, and additions were made in completely different locations, according to the military needs of the day.
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WINNER—One of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Petra, Jordan: This ancient city in southwestern Jordan, built on a terrace around Wadi Musa, or Valley of Moses, was the capital of the Arab kingdom of the Nabateans. The city is famous for water tunnels and stone structures carved in the rock.
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WINNER—One of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Christ Redeemer Statue, Brazil: The outstretched arms of the 125-foot statue of the Christ the Redeemer overlooks Rio de Janeiro from atop 2,343-foot Mount Corcovado.
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WINNER—One of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu, Peru: Built by the Incan Empire in the 15th century, Machu Picchu's walls, palaces, temples and dwellings are perched in the clouds at 8,000 feet above sea level in the Andes.Machu Picchu
Rediscovered in 1911 and believed to be the legendary "lost city of the Incas", the dramatic ruins of Machu Picchu
, set high in Peru's Andes Mountains, are the only significant Incan site to remain unharmed by the 16th-century Spanish conquistadors. Theories about the site's role in the Inca Empire continue to inspire intellectual curiosity, but its stunning landscape—the way the limestone temples, steep terraces, and aqueducts complement the land, in keeping with the Incan veneration of nature, and the way daybreak slowly creeps over the majestic peaks, unveiling the ruins stone by stone—is what makes Machu Picchu
one of the most spectacular sights in South America
—and the world over.
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WINNER—One of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico: This pyramid was part of a sacred site in an important Mayan center on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Built according to the solar calendar, shadows at the fall and spring equinoxes are said to look like a snake crawling down the steps, similar to the carved serpent at the top.Chichén Itzá
Ancient Mayans were known for their supremacy in many fields—mathematics, astronomy, and architecture among them—evidence of which is best demonstrated at Chichén Itzá
, about 117 miles west of Cancun
, on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula
. Occupied by the Mayans from the 7th to early 13th centuries, the superb complex consists of two primary zones influenced by Toltec and Puuc architecture, complete with massive stone platforms, towering pyramids and temples, and mysterious ball courts—and, of course, the famous Chac Mool statue that frequently graces Mexico tourism brochures. The star attraction, however, is the central pyramid, El Castillo, whose steep steps can be climbed with the help of a rope; those that muster the effort to reach the top will be rewarded with stunning views of the city amidst the Yucatan's natural splendor.
WINNER—One of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Colosseum, Italy: The 50,000-seat amphitheater in Rome was inaugurated in A.D. 80 and served as the backdrop for thousands of gladiators who dueled to the death.
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WINNER—One of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Taj Mahal, India: The white marble-domed mausoleum in Agra combines Indian, Persian and Islamic styles and was built by a 17th century Mogul emperor for his favorite wife, who died in childbirth.Taj Mahal
The sheer magnificence of India's Taj Mahal
is a dream-like vision your eyes won't soon forget. Built entirely of white marble and inlaid with semi-precious stones like jade, crystal, coral, and turquoise, this ethereal temple took 20,000 workers and 22 years to complete, in 1643, as a mausoleum for Emperor Shah Jahan's wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Rising above a river and framed by four minarets, the Taj, with its perfect symmetry, intricate mosaic details, and utter refinement, is not only one of the world's most beautiful buildings, it's also considered a testament to undying love and a symbol of lasting beauty.
FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Acropolis, Greece: This set-in-stone wonder attracts millions of visitors each year to its famed Parthenon and statues of Greek gods and goddesses.The AcropolisThe Acropolis
, the prominent hilltop that harbored Athens'
first settlers as early as 5000 BC, is today an archaeological gold mine, particularly venerated for the white-marble Parthenon (constructed from 447-432 BC) that stands on its flanks. This awe-inspiring Greek temple, a sublime 46-column shrine to the Goddess Athena (the city's namesake and patron), is a commanding monument that always enthralls spectators, but those that make the pilgrimage to the Acropolis' summit will also encounter a slew of ancient theaters, temples, and tombs dedicated to various heroes of Greek mythology. Should the city's renowned smog be absent during your visit, the sublime views over Athens are another monumental draw.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Alhambra, Spain: The palace and citadel—once the residence of the Moorish caliphs who governed southern Spain—feature mosaics, arabesques and mocarabe, or honeycomb work.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Angkor, Cambodia: The archaeological site in Siem Reap was the capital of the Khmer (Cambodian) empire from the ninth to 15th centuries. The 12th century ruins include Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
Angkor Wat This fantastic collection of temples and palaces located in the depths of a Cambodian jungle reveal a glimpse into the apex of an ancient world, where Hindi and Buddhist mysticism reigned supreme, as manifested by some of the most astonishing art and architecture ever produced in human history. Built between the 9th and 13th centuries to serve as different capitals of the powerful Khmer Empire, the breathtaking Angkor complex's most fabled site of all is Angkor Wat, a three-leveled sandstone pyramid, measuring 699 feet from base to tip, and exemplifying the zenith of Khmer architecture. The sight leaves no visitor unstirred—and we urge you to climb the near-vertical stone stairway to the third level for incredible panoramic views of the complex below.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Easter Island, Chile: Hundreds of massive stone busts, or Moais, are all that remains from the prehistoric culture that crafted them between 400 and 1,000 years ago as an homage to deceased ancestors.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Eiffel Tower, France: The 985-foot tower, built in 1889 for the International Exposition, symbolizes Paris. The open-lattice iron icon is the City of Light's tallest structure.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Hagia Sophia, Turkey: Also called the Church of Holy Wisdom, the soaring cathedral was built in 537 A.D. at Constantinople, today's Istanbul. In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans and the church became a mosque. Not until the landmark became a museum in 1935 were the Christian mosaics revealed.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Kiyomizu Temple, Japan: Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera, which means Clear Water Temple, was founded by a Buddhist sect in 798 and rebuilt in 1633 after a fire. A drink from its waterfall is believed to confer health, longevity and success.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral, Russia: Domes with golden cupolas surrounded by red brick walls are at the heart of Moscow's Kremlin. The Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed on adjacent Red Square features nine towers of different colors.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany: The inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, Neuschwanstein is a creation of 'Mad King' Ludwig II of Bavaria. Perched on a peak in the Alps, the gray granite castle rises to towers, turrets and pinnacles.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Statue of Liberty, New York: A gift of the French government, the 305-foot statue in New York Harbor has welcomed immigrants and symbolized freedom since 1886.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Stonehenge, Britain: How and why this circular monument of massive rocks was created between 3,000 and 1,600 B.C. is unknown, but some experts say the stones were aligned as part of a sun-worshipping culture or astronomical calendar.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Sydney Opera House, Australia: With a roof resembling a ship in full sail, the opera house is situated on Bennelong Point reaching into Sydney's harbor. It was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.
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FINALIST—The New Seven Wonders of the World. Timbuktu, Mali: Two of West Africa's oldest mosques, the Djingareyber, or Great Mosque, and the Sankore mosque built during the 14th and early 15th centuries can still be seen here in the northern Sahara Desert. Founded about A.D. 1,100, Timbuktu was a flourishing caravan center and a leading spiritual and intellectual center.
Labels: New 7 wonders of world -finalists