You've probably heard the phrase "Seven Wonders of the World" before. Maybe you can even name them. Need a refresher? Here they are: the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum, the Temple of Artemis, and the Statue of Zeus. Huh. You'd think there would be a new, updated list by now. Actually, there is — just remember, "new" is a relative term.
1. The Colosseum: Here's the one that surprised us the most. Shouldn't the world's original Thunderdome be on the original list? Actually, it's quite a lot newer than anything of the classical wonders. Completed in 80 C.E., the ancient structure in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest amphitheater in the world.
2. Machu Picchu: This 15th-century Incan estate was probably built for the emperor Pachacuti, and it sits comfortably at the top of the world, about 8,000 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level in southern Peru. It wasn't discovered by Europeans until 1911.
3. Petra: Dating back as far as 312 B.C.E., this is one new wonder that really is old enough to have made it on the original list. You've seen Petra in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" — it's the giant city carved into the cliffside. Today, it's Jordan's most popular tourist attraction.
4. Taj Mahal: Oh, this one is an obvious choice. Commissioned by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate the death of his wife, the beautiful mausoleum has been called "a teardrop on the cheek of time" by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Here's something interesting: no one knows who designed it.
5. Cristo Redentor: This is the youngest monument on the list. This Art Deco statue sits atop a mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro. It stands 98 feet (30 meters) tall, and its arms stretch 92 feet (28 meters) wide. It's become a symbol of Rio specifically, Brazil in general, and modern-day Christianity at large.
6. Great Wall of China: At 3,889 miles (6,259 kilometers) long, the Great Wall is a shoe-in for the Seven Wonders. Its earliest precursors were probably erected sometime in the 7th century B.C.E., and it's been gradually built up since then. Common misconception: it's not the only manmade object visible from space.
7. Chichén Itzá:This Mayan pyramid was constructed several hundred years before Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World. Thanks to its unique construction, the shadows as the sun goes down appear to form a feathered serpent descending the central staircase.
Wonders on Wonders on Wonders
It's not like you can really say objectively if something wondrous is Seven Wonders wondrous. So it might not be surprising to find out that there are a few more lists of potential wonders, organized by the kinds of things that they exemplify. There's no need to go into too much detail, but there are a couple of special categories that deserve some special attention.
For example, the New7Wonders Foundation also ranks the Seven Wonders of Nature. On this list, you'll find the Amazon (the longest river in the world), the island of Komodo (the only place in the world with bonafide dragons), and Puerto Princessa Underground River (an incredible subterranean river in the Philippines).
And then there's the American Society of Civil Engineers' Seven Wonders of the Modern World. This is more in line with what you might expect from a list of updated wonders, since everything is from the past century or so. There's the Chunnel that connects England and France (the tunnel with the longest undersea portion in the world), the CN Tower (the tallest free-standing structure), and the Golden Gate Bridge (the first suspension bridge to cross an ocean harbor).
Bored of modern marvels and want to bone up on your classics? Check out the beautifully illustrated "The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" by Lynn Curlee. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.