The ancient Greeks were the first to compile the list of the seven wonders of the world. Limited mostly to Greek sites, it’s no surprise that they hadn’t seen or heard of the Great Wall of China and many other wonders that might have made the list if the compilers had been more seasoned travellers.
Since I began living life by my Bucket List, I have seen two of the wonders of the world, and plan to visit another four before the year is out.
The Great Wall of China
I visited the Great Wall of China in 1991, when I was working and living in the country. I had recently read about two South Africans who walked the 8,851.8km length of the wall, and decided to make the most of my stay in China by taking the opportunity to visit the man-made wonder.
The Great Wall of China was originally built in 220 BC to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire. Little of the original wall remains though – what you see today are the walls that were rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. It stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Nur in the west, along the southern border of Inner Mongolia.
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy
I paid the Colosseum a visit in 2008 on a trip to Italy. The ruin of the amphitheatre was the largest ever built in the Roman Empire, and was once home to gory gladiatorial battles. Completed in 80 AD, it’s considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture, able to seat 50,000 people.
Petra in Jordan
I will visit Petra in Jordan on an 11-day trip covering Israel, Jordan and Egypt in May 2011. This city, carved from solid rock, was established in the 6th century BC, and controlled the commercial routes to Gaza, Damascus and the Persian Gulf, among others. The city is a marvel because the inhabitants managed to conduct natural streams into water conduits to maintain a water supply that could sustain their way of life in the desert.
The Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
At 4,500 years old, the pyramids of Giza are the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, and considering that they’re composed of 2,300,000 blocks of stone, ‘it’s no wonder’! Believed to have been built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu, which took nearly 20 years to build, the pyramids can be found on the west bank of the Nile River, next to the Sphinx.
146.5m high, the pyramids were the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, until the 19th century. I will also be paying them a visit during my 11-day trip to Israel, Jordan and Egypt in May 2011.
Machu Picchu in Peru
In June 2011, I plan on hiking the 33km Inca trail to visit the site of Machu Picchu in Peru for their centenary year. Originally built in 1430 AD on a mountain ridge in the Andes, 2,430m above sea level, Machu Picchu is also known as the Lost City of the Incas. The centenary is commemorating the 1911 founding of the Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham, who re-discovered it.
Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
The 39.6m tall statue of Christ the Redeemer weighs 635 tonnes and stands at the top of Corcovado Mountain. It overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro, attracting visitors from all over the world. A symbol of Christianity, built between 1922 and 1931, the statue has also become synonymous with Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. On the way back from my trip to Peru in June 2011, I will be visiting this famous statue to tick off one more wonder on my Bucket List.
Chichén Itzá in Mexico
Chichén Itzá is an ancient Mayan archaeological site in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the Chichén Itzá ruins were the political and economic centre of the Mayan civilisation between 750 to 12000 AD. The famous Mayan pyramid is testament to the Mayas’ incredible architectural skill.
Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, between 1632 and 1653. He had it built as a symbol of his love for his wife , and it’s actually a mausoleum, containing his wife’s body.
Located in the town of Agra, near the banks of the Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal, or “crown of buildings”, took 22 years and 20,000 workers to complete. A complex of integrated marble stuctures, it’s one of the most recognisable structures in the world.