The New Seven Wonders

In 2001, Swiss-born Canadian filmmaker and author Bernard Weber founded The New 7 Wonders Foundation & Campaign. His aim was to draw attention to some of the world’s most beautiful human-built and natural wonders...

By: Judy Koutsky

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Chichen Itza’s Temple of Kulkulkan
In 2001, Swiss-born Canadian filmmaker and author Bernard Weber founded The New 7 Wonders Foundation & Campaign. His aim was to draw attention to some of the world’s most beautiful human-built and natural wonders in hopes of preserving these sites for future generations. Buzz quickly grew over the Internet and over 100 million people around the world cast their vote on their favorite sights. Then on July 7, 2007, the New Seven Wonders of the World were unveiled.

What does this mean for tourism? The sites below have always been known to seasoned travelers, but now these destinations are on the radar of a much broader audience. From first-time travelers to those wanting to enjoy a trip of a lifetime, the New Seven Wonders are a perfect opportunity for travel agents to put together packages that appeal to a wide segment of the population. Here is what you need to know about the New Seven Wonders.


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The Statue of Christ
Redeemer welcomes clients to Rio.
The Statue of Christ Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Weighing 1,145 tons and standing 98 feet tall with a 26-foot pedestal containing a chapel that can hold 150 people, the famous statue of Jesus Christ is perched atop Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, with his arms open wide, as if welcoming visitors to the city below. The statue has long since become an emblem of Rio de Janeiro and is one of the top attractions in Brazil. Standing 2,330 feet above sea level, the top of Corcovado offers sweeping panoramic views of the mountains and sea below.

Top Ways to Visit: A must-see for visitors traveling to Rio, there are several ways for clients to reach the statue. Visitors can travel up the mountain by train or car. Trains leave the base of the mountain every half-hour and the ride offers clients stunning vistas along the way. From the Corcovado train station, it is 222 steps to reach the statue, but panoramic elevators and escalators make the walk much easier.

Practical Advice: Visiting in the late afternoon or early evening allows for a spectacular sunset with some of the best views in all of Brazil.


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The Colosseum is considered to be one of
the greatest works of Roman archtitecture.
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The Roman Colosseum or Coliseum (it is known by both names) sits in the center of the city of Rome and is the largest amphitheater ever built during the Roman Empire. It’s one of Italy’s main tourism draws since it is considered by many to be one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. Construction started in 72 A.D., and the final product was used for gladiator shows in which over 50,000 spectators would watch. Today it is used in a much different respect as the Pope leads the “Way of the Cross” procession here each year on Good Friday.

Top Ways to Visit: Most tours of Rome include a Colosseum stop. Its location, in the heart of the Piazza del Colosseo, can also be reached by the metro line.

Practical Advice: Since this is one of the top tourist attractions in Rome, it’s best to get there early to avoid the lines. Also, for handicapped visitors or those needing assistance, two elevators were recently built to bring visitors to the second tier.


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The Taj Mahal is an example
of Mughal architecture.
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is often referred to as a must-see before you die. It’s as stunning in person as it is in photos and is easily one of the most visited sites in India. Located in Agra, the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during the birth of their 14th child. Completed in 1648, the Taj Mahal is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture and UNESCO declared it “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” Millions of tourists travel here every year to visit what is, in essence, a testament of one man’s love for his wife.

Top Ways to Visit: Most packaged tours of India include the Taj Mahal. For FIT travelers, the Taj is located a short distance from many hotels and a taxi can leave passengers at the ticket entrance.

Practical Advice: If possible, visit the Taj Mahal twice once in the early morning and once at sunset. There are no crowds in the morning, which affords peaceful tranquility as well as excellent photo opportunities. At sunset, the colors of the marble change from pale pink to brilliant white according to the sun’s position in the sky.


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Over 200 states and dynasties were involved
in the building of the Great Wall.
The Great Wall, China
Over 200 states and dynasties were involved in creating the Great Wall of China, spanning a period of 2,000 years. Stretching 3,700 miles, the wall has over 1,000 fortified passes and 10,000 beacon towers. Badaling, the first section of the wall ever to open to tourists, remains the most popular.

Top Ways to Visit: Located 45 miles northwest of Beijing, Badaling is the most common section for tour buses. Visitors should be prepared for large crowds, even early in the morning and on weekdays. A cable car operates here to ease congestion.

Practical Advice: For FIT clients (pre-packaged tours all visit Badaling), try one of the more remote, less touristy sections of the wall. Simatai (60 miles northeast), Huanghua (40 miles north) and Jinshanling (56 miles northeast) are all open to tourists and are much less crowded.


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The city of Petra is one of the top
attractions in the Middle East.
Petra, Jordan
Located in southwestern Jordan, just outside the town of Wadi Mousa, Petra is where the Nabeteans settled in 6th century B.C. and, at the height of their civilization, where 40,000 people resided. By the 7th century A.D., Petra had passed into obscurity, until it was rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer. Since then, this magical city, carved into the surrounding rock, has become one of the top attractions in the Middle East. The Treasury is the most photographed image in Petra. A 45-minute, uphill hike to the monastery is also worth it for the breathtaking views.

Top Ways to Visit: Make sure to book a guided tour. There is so much history and information that a full experience cannot be done on one’s own. Various walks and climbs reveal literally hundreds of buildings, tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples, arched gateways, colonnaded streets and rock drawings.

Practical Advice: Travelers should take advantage of Petra by Night, in which 1,800 candles are lit after the sun sets. Walking through the Siq to the Khazneh following a candle-lit path and enjoying the flute played by a Bedouin at the Treasury, is one of the most spectacular travel experiences imaginable.


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For adventure enthusiasts, hiking the Inca
Trail is the only way to see Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Northwest of Cuzco, above the Rio Urubamba, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest lies the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, dating back to the height of the Inca Empire. Built in the 15th century, it was forgotten for centuries before being rediscovered in 1911 by an American historian. The natural setting is hard to beat: The Andes Mountains loom in the background and the upper Amazon basin offers a diversity of flora and fauna. The beautifully preserved classic Inca architecture will impress even the most seasoned traveler. It is one of the most visited sites in South America and one of Peru’s main attractions.

Top Ways to Visit: For adventure enthusiasts, there’s only one way to visit Machu Picchu and that’s by hiking the Inca Trail. Many packaged tours include porters, camping equipment and food. For those who wish to exert less physical energy, Peru-Rail, the company that operates the Southern Railways, offers train service to the top.

Practical Advice: The site is located on the highest part of the eastern Andes and thus altitude sickness can be a concern (the altitude ranges from 6,000 to 12,500 feet). For those planning to hike the Inca Trail, it’s advisable to spend at least a few days in Cuzco to get acclimated.


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Guestrooms Chichen Itza is one of the most
visited archaeological sites in Mexico.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
One of the most visited archaeo-
logical sites in Mexico, the ancient city of Chichen Itza is located on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is an excellent example of a preserved Mayan city, dating back to 900 A.D. and showcasing original temples, palaces and baths. Make sure to allow adequate time for visits as the site covers four square miles. The evening sound and light show is not to be missed.

Top Ways to Visit: Most American visitors will buy a pre-packaged day-trip tour from Cancun, which takes about two to three hours each way. The tour buses tend to get there around 11 a.m., which makes the site very crowded, so it’s a good idea to stay overnight near the site and visit first thing in the morning.

Practical Advice: The site can get very hot during the summer, so be sure to tell clients to pack a lot of water and stay hydrated. For those prone to heat exhaustion, visiting in the cooler months is advisable.




Only seven wonders were picked as the winners, but there were 14 other finalists. Here the other sights well worth visiting.

1. The Acropolis of Athens, Greece
The temples located here, especially the Parthenon, are recognized as some of the best symbols of ancient Greek civilization in the world.

2. Alhambra, Granada, Spain
This 9th-century castle is renowned for its stunning frescoes and is considered one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in the world.

3. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
One of the most important monuments in Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat is one of the largest sacred temples in the
world. It is known for its intricate ornamentation and well-
preserved beauty.

4. Statues of Easter Island, Chile
Discovered on Easter Sunday, 1722, the origin of the collection of 82-foot-high stone sculptures still remains a mystery to archaeologists and historians, although it’s believed to be of Polynesian ancestry.

5. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Visited by millions of people every year, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions not only in France, but in Europe.
It was the tallest man-made structure until the Empire
State Building was built.

6. The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Built during 532-537 A.D., this monument is a museum that attracts both Christians and Muslims. Architecturally, the massive dome has been used as a model for mosques
found throughout the world.

7. Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Dating back to 794 A.D., the palaces and temples of Kyoto were the residences of Japan’s emperors and shoguns for more than 1,000 years and are considered one of Asia’s
most cherished cultural sites.

8. The Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow, Russia
Built as a residence for Ivan I, the Kremlin was the official residence of the Czars until the 1917 Russian Revolution. Today, it houses the president’s office.

9. Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany
Various architectural styles make this castle appear as if
out of a fairytale. Its beauty is enhanced by the
surrounding mountains and lakes.

10. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
These are the only remnants of the original Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. The sight has attracted visitors from around the world who marvel at its engineering and beauty.

11. The Statue of Liberty, New York City, New York
Given to the U.S. by the French government, the Statue of Liberty has long since been symbolic of America’s belief in freedom and independence.

12. Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom
Like many wonders on the list, the origins of this creation
are not known. Each stone weighs around 50 tons and
therefore it’s considered an engineering and architectural marvel.

13. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Many associate Australia with the famous architecture of the Sydney Opera House. The “sails” are instantly recognizable the world over, as is the music heard inside.

14. Timbuktu, Mali
In the 12th century, Timbuktu was at the crossroads of the four most important caravan paths supplying the Arab world. Today it remains a popular tourist destination in Africa.