The human species has long sought the wonders of the world. Dating as far back as the 5th Century BC, Hellenic sightseers referenced lists made by Greek historians Herodotus and Callimachus of Cyrene. Such lists marked the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” which were:
The Great Pyramid of Giza
Colossus of Rhodes
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Lighthouse of Alexandria
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Today, only one of those wonders stands, the Great Pyramid of Giza. On top of that, these wonders were located only around the Mediterranean Rim. It was clear that a modernized list was needed.
The Creation of the New Seven Wonders
In 2000, a Swiss company launched a campaign named “The New 7 Wonders of the World.” This initiative garnered over 100 million votes worldwide. It sought to name seven modern wonders that continue to stand and grant access to tourists from around the globe. The following structures were named “The New 7 Wonders of the World”:
Great Wall of China
Christ the Redeemer
Not only are these structures awe-inspiring in their physical scale, but they each carry massive cultural and historical weight.
1. Great Wall of China
Spanning over 13,000 miles across Northern China, the Great Wall of China began its lengthy construction in the 7th century BC. Over several dynasties, the wall reached its final form in 1644 under the Ming dynasty. In addition to protection from nomadic nations in the North, the wall also bolstered trade and military transportation.
Of course, there are many cities in which visitors can gain access from the wall. The most visited part of the wall is in Mutianyu, just outside of Beijing. Travelers looking for a unique experience, though, can head to Shanhaiguan, where the wall dramatically ends in the Bohai Sea, or Jiankou, where the wall inexplicably traverses steep mountainous terrain.
2. The Colosseum
Located in Italy’s capital city, the Colosseum stands as not just the largest ancient amphitheater ever built but also the epicenter of the epic Roman Empire. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and was completed eight years later under his heir, Titus. Once holding as many as 80,000 spectators, this marvel of engineering hosted gladiatorial battles, executions, and dramas.
For first-time visitors, it is highly recommended to book a special access tour, which grants access to many restricted areas. Only on such tours can tourists walk through the “Gate of Death” onto the arena floor, just as so many did during Roman times.
Colosseum-bound travelers should also remember that Italy is a part of the Schengen Area and will implement ETIAS as early as 2024. This means that many non-EU citizens, including U.S. citizens, will no longer be able to Italy and most other European countries visa-free.
3. Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal, which roughly translates to “The Crown of the Palace," is located in the Indian city of Agra. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the palace to house the tombs of him and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. This mausoleum, constructed of ivory-white marble, was completed in 1643 and cost an estimated $1 billion. Today, visitors can tour the more than 42-acre complex.
4. Chichen Itza
The Mayan people are well regarded as one of the most scientifically-advanced groups of the ancient world. Even modern scientists cannot wrap their heads around the technological marvels created by these indigenous people. Located in Yucatan, Mexico, Chichen Itza is one such marvel.
Once one of the largest Mayan cities, Chichen Itza hosted a series of pyramids and temples used to track celestial events. The astronomical and mathematical knowledge that went into Mayan constructions continues to be studied today. The Temple of Kukulcan stands as the epicenter of this legendary archaeological site.
Originally known to its inhabitants as Raqmu, Petra is a historic city in Southern Jordan dating back to the fourth century BC. This once-great metropolis continues to marvel at due to its rock-cut architecture and technologically-advanced irrigation system.
Because of the city’s unsuitable location amongst desert and mountains, it is only due to this irrigation system that the “Rose City” was able to thrive.
6. Machu Picchu
Constructed in the 15th century, Machu Picchu was an Inca citadel located in Peru’s Andes mountain region. This remarkable site has gained mass appeal due to its inconceivable construction atop steep mountain ridges. These sacred grounds stretch a distance of five miles at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet. They were abandoned 100 years after their construction, around the time of the Spanish conquest.
Mountain-bound visitors can trek the grounds of what was once either a royal estate or religious grounds for Incan leaders. With over 3,000 stone steps that link its multiple levels of platforms, Machu Picchu offers visitors some of the most incredible sites in the Southern hemisphere.
7. Christ the Redeemer
On the other side of South America is Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. This massive sculpture built by Paul Landowski, Heitor da Silva Costa, and Albert Caquot between 1922 and 1931 stands 98 feet high and weighs 635 metric tons.
Standing tall atop Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca National Park, Christ the Redeemer overlooks the entire city of Rio. Due to its massive size and optimal location, this epic sculpture can be enjoyed from both above and below.
Will You Need ETIAS To See the New Seven Wonders?
ETIAS is an incoming electronic visa-waiver program requiring all non-EU citizens, including U.S. citizens, to pre-register before traveling to Europe. This program was created to bolster the safety of EU borders and citizens while creating a streamlined customs experience for international travelers. ETIAS is not a visa and will not replace the Schengen Visa.
Which Countries Will Require ETIAS?
European countries in the Schengen Area and on Schengen agreements will require ETIAS registration from all non-EU visitors. A full list of ETIAS countries can be found here. If you’re planning to visit The New 7 Wonders of the World, you will likely need ETIAS to visit Italy.
Will You Need To Re-Register Upon Each Visit?
ETIAS authorization is valid for up to three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. This eliminates the need to re-register within that window. ETIAS makes things even easier due to its efficient electronic system. Applicants are approved instantly or within an hour, and authorization is automatically linked to their passports.
What Is the Purpose Behind ETIAS?
ETIAS has a broad scope but primarily aims to increase the security of EU borders and citizens. Changes to the standing system were initially proposed for four reasons:
- Last year alone, Europe experienced 50 million individual visitors and over 200 million entries.
- The number of refugees and people seeking asylum for reasons of war and persecution has risen sharply over the last few years.
- Terrorist attacks have become disturbingly frequent, threatening the lives of citizens who call Europe home.
- Technological advancements have made electronic pre-travel authorization a realistic and practical way of maintaining border security.
Besides security, though, ETIAS has several other benefits. While non-EU travelers will have to undergo the additional registration step, authorization is valid for up to three years, meaning no further action or forms will be required. On top of that, ETIAS aims to increase the efficiency of EU customs. This means less time in line and more time enjoying Europe.
Where To Go Next
If the seven wonders are on your bucket list, your first stop should be ETIAS’ assessment. Before planning a trip to the EU, all travelers should determine whether or not they need ETIAS. Upon approval, enjoy the endless options that Europe has to offer.