Come with us as we take a journey around the Seven Wonders of the Modern World! We’ll be taking in these seven magnificent monuments, learning about what makes them so special and finding out facts along the way…
Nestled in the Andes sits Machu Picchu! Created during the Inca Empire, this impressive mysterious city is set 7000ft above sea level in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley. Built between 1400 AD and 1500 AD under the rule of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (the ninth ruler of the Incas), it is believed that Machu Picchu took around 30 years to complete.
The stones in Machu Picchu were built to dance! As with lots of Inca Empire buildings, they were cut precisely and wedged closely together with the use of mortar – this allowed the building to ‘dance’ when an earthquake occurred. The stones bounce through earthquake tremors and then fall back into place.
Did you know: there’s a secret temple at the top of Huayna Picchu (the mountain that borders Machu Picchu)? The Temple of the Moon was built into a cave on the far side of Huayna Picchu. This ceremonial shrine is lined with beautiful stonework and niches that were believed to hold mummies.
And there are still secrets: lots of side trails that spread away from Machu Picchu could lead to many more interesting discoveries!
The next part of our journey takes us to Rome…grab your gladius (small sword used by gladiators) and step into the Colosseum! Constructed between 72-80 AD (with modifications between 81-96 AD) under Flavian Emperor Vespasian, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built - holding approximately 50,000 spectators…wow! Used predominantly for gladiator battles, hunting and re-enactments, this incredible theatre has seen many spectacles. It even had a ‘velarium’, a type of awning used in Roman times to shade the spectators and protect them from the hot sun!
Gradually, the Romans’ interest in the games being held at the Colosseum began to fade. It fell into disrepair following a series of earthquakes during the 5th Century AD and was neglected – however a project took place in the 1990s to restore the Colosseum. It has now been the world’s most popular tourist attraction for two consecutive years!
Did you know the original name for the Colosseum was the Flavian Amphitheatre? It was built as a gift to the Roman people.
Let’s head to Jordan to explore the ancient city of Petra! Dating back as far as 400 BC, this city located in the Hashemite Kingdom was once the capital of the Nabataean empire and a thriving trading center.
The Siq (a 250-foot-high sandstone slot canyon) leads directly to the Treasury (Al Khazneh), carved into pink sandstone (this is the part of Petra you’ve probably seen the most of online!). Petra is also famous for its water networks – these impressive channels were made to divert and focus runoff water into nearby cisterns and dams and were carved into the mountainous terrain. Other paths were carved to accommodate and support clay pipes that distributed the water.
Following the conquest of Petra in 106 AD by the Roman Empire and a powerful earthquake causing significant damage, the city fell into ruin. It was only rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt – this was the first time the western world was made aware of the city’s existence! Referred to as the ‘Lost City’, with only 15% of it uncovered, this fascinating metropolis still has secrets to reveal!
Did you know the name Petra means ‘stone’ or ‘rock’? Appropriate for this city carved from stone!
Towering over Rio de Janeiro atop Mount Corcovado sits Christ the Redeemer, one of South America’s most iconic landmarks! Following a proposal from the Catholic Circle of Rio, construction began in 1922. This impressive statue was designed by sculptor Paul Landowski and created by engineers Heitor Da Silva Costa and Albert Caquot (with Gheorghe Leonida creating the statue’s face) in an Art Deco style that took nine years to complete.
This staggering statue which measures 98 feet high and 92 feet wide was revealed to the world on October 12th 1931. Given its location and enormous height, it's unsurprising that it is frequently hit by lightning. Lightning caused significant damage in 2008 and 2014, after which repairs were required to fix the external damage and to improve the internal structure. The statue has become a symbolic protector of people and nearly 2 million people visit Christ the Redeemer every year!
Did you know there’s a Catholic chapel at the foot of Christ the Redeemer? It’s dedicated to the patron saint of Brazil – Nossa Senhora Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida). And you can get married there!
The next stop on our round-the-world journey is Mexico’s most visited archaeological site – Chichen Itza! This complex of Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula is the site of many ancient structures including the famous El Castillo pyramid (Temple of Kukulkan). The city was built roughly between 600-750 AD and famous landmarks such as El Castillo demonstrate the importance and influence of Mayan astronomy - the temple has 365 steps in total – one for each day of the year! An observatory remains on the site today, the El Caracol.
Chichen means “mouth of the wells” - the city gets its name from the nearby Sacred Cenote which can be seen at the northern end of the site. Itza refers to the tribe that lived in these regions. Three of the sites’ most iconic monuments are the Pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court. The city of Chichen Itza began to lose its significance from the 13th Century and was rediscovered in the 19th Century by an American explorer.
Did you know the Temple of Kukulkan was designed so the sun forms the shadow of a serpent on the pyramid? Kukulkan is the name of the Serpent God and during Spring and Autumn equinoxes an undulating shadow resembling the body of a snake moves slowly down the pyramid – isn’t that cool!
Bask in the glow of the famous North Indian mausoleum, the Taj Mahal! This incredible monument was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shan Jahan after his wife passed away and construction occurred between 1632-1643 The magnificent mausoleum was to act as a final resting place for Arjumand Banu Begum (the emperor’s wife, also known by Mumtaz Mahal) and needed a whopping 22,000 laborer's to build! Shan Jahan was also laid to rest with his wife within the Taj Mahal.
The main building of the Taj Mahal is built on the bank of the Yamuna River and surrounded by gardens, fountains and pools. Its architectural style is exquisite with unique qualities of balance and symmetry. A combination of Islamic, Persian and Indian styles, it is constructed of precious white marble – a stone kept only for select and often holy places. Intricate details and patterns cover the Taj Mahal’s external walls – including Islamic inscriptions written by Amanat Khan, which mainly consist of verses and passages from the Quran.
Did you know that the white dome at the peak of the mausoleum is often called the ‘onion dome’? It rises about 115 feet and is surrounded by four other domes!
Last, but most certainly not least, let’s stroll along the Great Wall of China! The oldest of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World, much of the Great Wall of China was built between 1368 and 1644 AD during the Ming dynasty (some sections date back to the 7th Century BC). The wall is approximately 13,171 miles long in its entirety!
Constructed as a defensive mechanism, the wall was also used to facilitate transportation, regulate China’s borders and encourage trade. This almost mythical landmark defies geographical challenges and is a huge, impressive feat of engineering holding major historical significance in China.
Did you know the Great Wall of China is not one continuous wall? This defensive network is made of many walls and forts built in different historical periods. The wall spans 15 regions of north China: Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, and Xinjiang.
Wow! What a journey! We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip with us and discovered more about these magnificent Seven Wonders! There are so many interesting facts and exciting mysteries surrounding each Wonder.
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