Seven wonders of the world

Seven wonders of the world

The age-old list of the seven wonders of the world recognises some of the most fascinating landmarks on the planet and provides a great starting point for holidaymakers looking to soak up a bit of culture on their annual break. But of course, there's more to Earth than just these seven monuments - and there are a host of other lists that acknowledge this.

Ancient history

The original list, thought to have been compiled at around 140 BC, consists of the seven greatest wonders of the ancient world. Most of these no longer exist, yet their locations can still provide an intriguing break for travellers interested in these once great monuments - apart from, perhaps, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon's situation in present day Iraq.

For those who want to see an ancient wonder in its full glory, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only landmark from the list that is still standing. Visitors to Egypt will find that there are in fact three massive pyramids, but it is Cheops' Pyramid that is on the seven wonders list. As well as gazing at this spectacular feat of construction, holidaymakers can also look around the Solar Barque Museum, explore the Sphinx Complex and check out the Sphinx Sound and Light Show.

Also in Egypt is the site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was built on the island of Pharos. As the country's second largest city, Alexandria is particularly popular with tourists looking for a unique city break, with its stretches of white sandy beaches, numerous museums and a unique Roman amphitheatre.

Elsewhere, the Temple of Artemis was once located south of the city of Izmir in Turkey. While little remains of the temple and its beautiful architecture, sculptures and other artefacts can be viewed at the site. The Mausoleum of Maussollos, the spectacular tomb of an ancient ruler, was also situated in what is now the Turkish city of Bodrum.

Meanwhile, Olympia in Greece represents the former site of the Statue of Zeus. The statue was destroyed long ago but the area remains a prime spot for tourists due to its setting as the place where the Olympic torch is lit at the first stage of its journey every four years.

The gigantic Colossus of Rhodes was also built in Greece, this time on the island of Rhodes. Holidaymakers heading to this area will not find any remains of the 100 ft high statue, but debate as to whether to rebuild the monument rumbles on to this day. Of course, Rhodes has much to offer any traveller even without a physical reminder of the existence of this ancient wonder.

Modern marvels

Perhaps the main thing lacking from most of the ancient locations discussed above are the wonders themselves. But there are plenty of other structures and monuments to visit elsewhere that could take your breath away just as easily.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has put forward a list of seven wonders of the modern world. These include the CN Tower in Toronto, the Empire State Building in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Itaipu Dam shared by Brazil and Paraguay and the Panama Canal between Colon and Balboa.

Of course, such lists tend to generally divide opinion all over the world. Last year, efforts were made by the New7Wonders Foundation to compile a new, definitive list of the world's foremost wonders by putting 200 monuments to the public vote and whittling them down to the seven most popular.

The winners, announced in July 2007, ranged from the Great Wall of China - a potentially great base to use when trekking across China - to Brazil's Statue of Christ the Redeemer and from the Taj Mahal in Delhi to Chichen Itza, an ancient Mayan site in Mexico.

Nature's best

Some of the most magnificent sights in the world were not created by the hand of man - a decade ago, CNN came up with a list of the seven wonders to be found in the natural world.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona, Mexican volcano Paricutin and the harbour at Rio de Janeiro cover each of the three Americas, while South Africa is represented by Victoria Falls and Australia by the Great Barrier Reef. Mount Everest and the Northern Lights cap off the list, providing an ideal itinerary on which to base a potential trip around the world.

Other natural sights proposed by various academics and experts include Ayers Rock, the Matterhorn, Mount Fuji in Japan, Krakatoa Island in Indonesia, Angel Falls in Venezuela and Ontario's Niagara Falls.

There is currently a drive underway to nominate a new, publicly-decided list of seven natural wonders, run by the organisation behind the recent campaign to settle on the seven new wonders of the world. So if you've seen a natural sight that you think might be among the top seven in the world, nominate away…

The sky's the limit

Of course, there's so much more to the world than list upon list of must-see sights. Adventurous travellers could gain as much from a holiday spent exploring lesser-known destinations as a first-time tourist could from pottering around the Mediterranean basin to see the ancient wonders. The best thing about Earth is that there really is something for everyone - so why not break away from visiting the same old resort year in, year out and try something new for a change?