The earliest lists of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were made more than 2,000 years ago by ancient Hellenic tourists. Except for the Great Pyramid of Giza those wonders no longer exist. They were destroyed by earthquakes, fires and in one case by an angry mob.
Many other lists of amazing structures have been made since then. Here’s a look at our list of the greatest man-made wonders of the world:
Number 30. Lalibela Churches
Built by King Lalibela to be the ‘New Jerusalem,’ the city of Lalibela in the Ethiopian highlands is home to eleven incredible monolithic churches. These were hewn from the top down into living rock between the 7th and 13th centuries, with an intricate series of tunnels and passages connecting them. Of these, the Church of St. George is undoubtedly the most impressive as it is so finely carved out of the mountainside.
Set in the shape of a Greek cross, the church reaches a height of 40 feet, with amazing artworks found within its atmospheric interior.
Number 29. Leaning Tower of Pisa
The world-famous leaning tower is known around the globe for its incredible four-degree tilt that makes it seem as if the tower is about to topple over.
The amazing slanted belltower sits behind Pisa Cathedral and was built in the Romanesque style.
Dating back to the 12th century, the tower took a whopping 199 years to complete, but began to slant during its construction due to soft ground on one side. Today, the tower – which stands at a wonky 55.86 meters tall – attracts tourists from far and wide.
Number 28. Himeji Castle
The Himeji Castle is considered the best existing example of Japanese castle architecture. It was fortified to defend against enemies during the feudal period, but it has been rebuilt many times throughout the centuries and reflects the different design periods.
It survived the bombings of World War II and is frequently seen in domestic and foreign films, including the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”. The white exterior and design give the castle the appearance of a bird taking flight, earning the the castle the nickname ‘white egret castle’.
Number 27.Meenakshi Amman Temple
Meenakshi Amman Temple is an impressive Hindu temple that dates back to the sixth century, though most of the present structure was built a thousand years later. It is the most important temple in Madurai, itself a 2,500-year-old city in South India. Intricate carvings about inside and out; the temple has a total of 14 towers, each dedicated to a god or person.
Though the statues on the towers were once plain, paint has been added to them over the years during festivals, which has created the riot of color that can be seen today.
Number 26. Sydney Opera House
Regarded as a 20th century architectural masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House was designed and built by architect, Jørn Utzon, to reflect the image of a huge sailing ship. It houses multiple venues that together host more than 1,500 performances each year.
Surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Sydney Harbour and the Royal Botanic Gardens, the famous Opera House in Sydney is one of Australia’s most famous landmarks.
Number 25. Leshan Great Buddha
The Giant Buddha of Leshan is a gigantic Buddha statue carved out of a cliff face in western China. Begun in the year 713 during the Tang Dynasty, the statue was not completed until the year 803, and was the effort of thousands of sculptors and workers.
As the biggest carved stone Buddha in the world, the Leshan Giant Buddha is featured in poetry, song and story.
The sculpture stands about 233 feet high and has 11 feet long fingers on each of its enormous resting hands.
Number 24. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The bridge took four years to build, and was completed in 1937.
The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of California.
The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.
Number 23. St. Basils Cathedral
Arguably the most iconic sight in Russia, this twisting Cathedral with its multi-colored onion domes is set in Moscow’s equally iconic Red Square. St Basil’s Cathedral was built by Ivan the Terrible in 1555. The structure is a madly bright lollypop of strange styles that seem more like a funfair and look unlike anything else in Russia. Because of its unique architectural style and its historic links to a victorious battle in Tatarstan, the cathedral is a symbol of Russia.
Number 22. Alhambra
Built on the ruins of Roman fortifications in 889, Alhambra is a combination palace and fortress situated in Granada, Spain. For almost 1,000 years, much of the Iberian peninsula was ruled by the Islamic Moors, with Andalusia being their longest-held territory.
Today, you can explore its citadel, the oldest part of the fortress, climb up its watchtower, explore the amazing Moorish gardens and courtyards, and be amazed at the delicate geometric patterns throughout the complex.
The setting on the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada makes Alhambra that much more mystical.
Number 21. Moai Statues
With the tallest weighing in over 80 tonnes, the Moai Statues on Easter Island in Polynesia are iconic.
In fact, you’ll probably recognize them from a picture even if you hadn’t heard of them. These 800-plus statues, most of which face away from the sea, were carved from volcanic ash by the Rapa Nui people somewhere between 400 and 1500 AD.
Likely created using rudimentary basalt stone picks, each of these enormous monolithic statues would have taken close to a year to complete. There are many theories as to why they were built, including as a way to honor important clan ancestors and because of a believe it would improve the soil.
Number 20. Eiffel Tower
Named after Gustave Eiffel, the unmistakable symbol of Paris is a sight that must be witnessed when visiting the French capital.
Constructed between 1887 and 1889, the tower was originally built to be the impressive entrance to the World’s Fair. The tower stands at 324 meters tall and was amazingly the world’s tallest man-made structure until the Empire State Building took the title in 1930. Take the lift all the way to the observation deck of the tower and marvel at the views of the Parisian boulevard and pattern of parks below.
Number 19. Abu Simbel
Counted amongst the most majestic monuments in Egypt, Abu Simbel consist of two massive rock temples on the western bank of Lake Nasser. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses The Great in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari.
The complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River.
Number 18. Ifugao Rice Terraces
Photographers will want to have lots of memory cards with them when they visit the picturesque Ifugao Rice Terraces on the island of Luzon. For 2,000 years, people have been growing rice on terraces that follow the contours of the Cordilleras Mountains. The most famous ones can be found around the town of Banaue. They were created by the Ifugao ethnic people without modern tools and are still used today.
Number 17. Neuschwanstein Castle
One of the architectural projects of “Mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle is the quintessential fairytale castle.
In fact, it was the castle’s soaring spires and romanesque revival style that inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Construction of the castle began in 1869, but sadly, Ludwig never got to live in his castle; he died in 1886, the same year of the castle’s completion.
Set in South Bavaria among forested mountains and mirror-like lakes, the picturesque setting of the castle is as impressive as the building itself.
Number 16. Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is a stunning feat of architecture and engineering, with two observation decks and a restaurant-bar on the 122nd floor.
The world’s tallest building pierces the sky at 2715 feet and opened in January 2010, six years after excavations began. Up to 13,000 workers toiled day and night, putting up a new floor in as little as three days.
Taking in the views from the world’s tallest building is a deservedly crave-worthy experience and a trip to the “At the Top” observation deck on the 124th floor is the most popular way to do it.
Number 15. St Peter’s Basilica
The center of the Catholic world, the Basilica of St. Peter is a huge church.
With an interior height of 400 feet the space shuttle, together with its booster rockets, could fit inside, as could the Statue of Liberty. The basilica stands on the traditional site where Peter the apostle was crucified and buried.
Construction on the current building began in 1506 and was completed in 1615.
Many famous artists worked on the complex and its surroundings: Michelangelo designed the dome while Bernini designed the great St. Peter’s Square.
Number 14. Borobudur
Crafted out of an impressive two million blocks of volcanic stone, Borobudur in Indonesia is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Dating back to the 9th-century, it eventually fell into ruin until it was discovered again in the 1800s. Since then, it has been restored to its former glory and is particularly popular at sunrise.
The Borobudur monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms. A pathway of enlightenment leads from the base of the pyramid up through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, the world of forms, and the world of formlessness.
It’s decorated with over 2,000 reliefs and 500 Buddha statues, each one outlining a Buddhist teaching.
Number 13. Temples of Baalbek
Once known as the City of the Sun, Baalbek’s sprawling complex is home to some of the most impressive Roman ruins around. Of these, the two largest and grandest are the Temple of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter.
Created to be the largest temple in the Roman empire, the temple of Jupiter was lined by 54 massive granite columns each of which were 21 meters tall.
Only 6 of these titanic columns remain standing but even they are incredibly impressive. The best preserved temple at the site is the Temple of Bacchus built in 150 AD.
Although the site was pilfered over the centuries for building materials, Baalbek is still a significant historical site and is one of Lebanon’s most popular tourist attractions.
Number 12. Acropolis
The Acropolis in Athens is a simply stunning sight. This monumental hill is the location of a number of ancient sites that date back to the 5th century BC.
Some of the attractions that crown the Acropolis include the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum, and, of course, the Parthenon.
Constructed at the peak of the Athenian Empire in 447 BC, the Parthenon is a symbol of Greece and impresses with its innumerable columns. After nightfall, the Acropolis is lit up with a glow that can be seen around Athens.
Number 11. Chichen Itza
One of the most famous archaeological sites on Earth, Chichen Itza was once a thriving city on the Yucatan Peninsula. Built by the Mayans in 600 AD, it was abandoned in 1221 when Mayapan became the region’s new capital.
Highlights include the Temple of Kukulkan, a giant stone pyramid with four stairways representing a compass and 365 steps for each day of the year. It is best visited during the spring or fall equinox when the sun creates a light show on the stairs of the pyramid.
Other must-see sites include the Ball Court, the Wall of Skulls, and the Sacred Cenote that was once a site of human sacrifice.
Number 10. Great Wall of China
Spreading through 15 Chinese provinces and autonomous regions, the Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world. It is made up of a series of separate sections of walls and moats that were built over the course of six Chinese dynasties as a defense from invaders.
Now well over 2,000 years old, some parts of the wall have fallen into ruin.
Interestingly, for those who wanted to attempt it, walking the entire length of the Great Wall of China would take approximately 18 months.
Number 9. Christ the Redeemer
Perched atop the 2,330 feet high peak of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, the statue of “Cristo Redentor” stands with arms outstretched, gazing serenely out over the city.
Construction of the statue began in 1922 during the heyday of the Art Deco movement, and the concrete and soapstone statue is considered the largest statue designed in the genre in the world.
Most visitors take a vertical cog train to reach the base of the summit. From there, visitors to the monument once had to climb hundreds of steps to reach the top. Today, elevators and escalators are available to shorten the trip.
Number 8. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a magnificent representation of the Inca civilization before the Spanish came. Nestled in the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu served as a palace for the emperor, a fortress and as a site for religious ceremonies where human sacrifices were made to appease the gods.
Untouched by the Spanish, the site was abandoned after the conquest, only to be “discovered” by an American professor in the early 1900s. Built from polished stones, the city is a fascinating example of classical Inca architecture.
With its spectacular views, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most visited tourist attraction.
Number 7. Hagia Sophia
For almost 1,000 years, Hagia Sophia was the biggest cathedral in the world and is still a fantastic structure to set eyes on. Originally built as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in 537 when Istanbul was named Constantinople, Hagia Sophia became an Ottoman mosque from 1453 and is today a museum for all faiths to enjoy.
The dome of the Hagia Sophia is a marvel in itself, and the building as a whole perfectly reflective of Byzantine architecture.
Walking around the building today, you can piece together the history of the city with its intriguing murals and interesting artifacts.
Number 6. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the United States, stands upon Liberty Island and is one of the most famous symbols in the world. The construction of the statue was completed in France in July 1884 and arrived in New York the following year.
From 1886 until the jet age, it was often one of the first glimpses of the United States for millions of immigrants.
Lady Liberty on her pedestal stands at an impressive 305 feet, which visitors can climb for views of Brooklyn and Gustave Eiffel’s supportive framework.
Number 5. Colosseum
One of the most famous buildings ever constructed, the Colosseum almost needs no introduction.
Lying in the heart of Rome, the enormous oval amphitheatre is one of the Roman empire’s greatest architectural triumphs and remains standing almost 2000 years after it was completed.
While three stories of huge arcades make up its outer wall, its interior boasts fantastic views of the endless seating areas and subterranean network of tunnels and rooms, which used to lie beneath the arena’s floor.
Over the centuries, countless gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, and even mock sea battles took place in the amphitheatre, which could hold up to 80,000 spectators.
One of the most iconic symbols of Imperial Rome, the Colosseum is a must-see sight due to its awe-inspiring architecture, spectacular size, and historical importance.
Number 4. Petra
The Rose City of Petra is an ancient desert town that was carved out of pink sandstone cliffs by nomads thousands of years ago.
Located in Jordan, tucked between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, it’s hard to believe the city was once filled with green gardens, palatial houses, and bustling markets.
Instead, a walk or camel ride through the ruins of Petra will reveal abandoned caves, temples, and tombs hidden within the city walls. The two-story Treasury carved into the rock face is one of the most beautiful landmarks in the old city.
It’s worth viewing for the facade alone but the interior with its Indiana-Jonesy royal tomb is worth a look.
Number 3. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is the most magnificent and largest of all the Angkor temples in Cambodia. Built around the first half of 12th century, the temple’s balance, composition and beauty make it one of the finest monuments in the world.
A huge rectangular reservoir surrounds Angkor Wat which rises up through a series of three rectangular terraces to the central shrine and tower at a height of 669 feet. This arrangement reflects the traditional Khmer idea of the temple mountain, in which the temple represent Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hinduism.
Number 2. Taj Mahal
Located in Northern India, the Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife.
The Taj is one of the most well preserved tombs in the world and one of the masterpieces of Mughal architecture. Called “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity”, the monument is actually an integrated complex of structures.
Besides the white domed marble mausoleum it includes several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes.
Number 1. Pyramids of Giza
Arguably the world’s most famous landmark, the Pyramids of Giza lie on the outskirts of Cairo, looking out over the endless sands of the Sahara.
The pyramids in Giza were built over the span of three generations during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest and sole remnant of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The pyramid is an awe-inspiring 455 feet high making it the largest pyramid in Egypt, although nearby Khafre’s Pyramid appears to be larger as it is build at a higher elevation.