Great Wall of China
This newly elected world wonder was built along China’s northern border over many centuries to keep out invading Mongol tribes. Constructed between the fifth century B.C. and the 16th century, the Great Wall is the world’s longest human-made structure, stretching some 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers). The best known section was built around 200 B.C. by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang Di.
Perched on the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean kingdom of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to A.D. 40). Petra is famous for its many stone structures such as a 138-foot-tall (42-meter-tall) temple carved with classical facades into rose-colored rock. The ancient city also included tunnels, water chambers, and an amphitheater, which held 4,000 people. The desert site wasn’t known to the West until Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt came across it in 1812.
Christ the Redeemer
The 105-foot-tall (38-meter-tall) ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was among the “new seven wonders of the world” announced July 7, 2007 following a global poll to decide a new list of human-made marvels. The winners were voted for by Internet and phone, American Idol style. The other six new wonders are the Colosseum in Rome, India’s Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Jordan’s ancient city of Petra, the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, and the ancient Maya city of Chichen Itza in Mexico.
Machu Picchu, Peru
One of three successful candidates from Latin America, Machu Picchu is a 15th-century mountain settlement in the Amazon region of Peru. The ruined city is among the best known remnants of the Inca civilization, which flourished in the Andes region of western South America. The city is thought to have been abandoned following an outbreak of deadly smallpox, a disease introduced in the 1500s by invading Spanish forces.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Chichen Itza is possibly the most famous temple city of the Mayas, a pre-Columbian civilization that lived in present day Central America. It was the political and religious center of Maya civilization during the period from A.D. 750 to 1200. At the city’s heart lies the Temple of Kukulkan (pictured)-which rises to a height of 79 feet (24 meters). Each of its four sides has 91 steps-one step for each day of the year, with the 365th day represented by the platform on the top.
The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The only finalist from Europe to make it into the top seven—the Colosseum in Rome, Italy-once held up to 50,000 spectators who came to watch gory games involving gladiators, wild animals, and prisoners. Construction began around A.D. 70 under Emperor Vespasian. Modern sports stadiums still resemble the Colosseum’s famous design.
Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal, in Agra, India, is the spectacular mausoleum built by Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to honor the memory of his beloved late wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Construction began in 1632 and took about 15 years to complete. The opulent, domed mausoleum, which stands in formal walled gardens, is generally regarded as finest example of Mughal art and architecture. It includes four minarets, each more than 13 stories tall. Shah Jahan was deposed and put under house arrest by one of his sons soon after the Taj Mahal’s completion. It’s said that he spent the rest of his days gazing at the Taj Mahal from a window.