Written By: Taylor Gilkison

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the Seven Wonders of the ‘New World’ have captivated generations of travelers and historians for centuries. Lists declaring different “wonders of the world” have been compiled since antiquity to record some of the world’s most breathtaking natural and man-made historic sites.

Dating back to the 2nd century BCE, the original list was a massive testament to the sheer ingenuity, innovation, and creativity of Earth’s early civilizations. 

In 1999, an initiative was started by Swiss explorer Bernard Weber to update the list and choose the New Seven Wonders of the World from a selection of existing monuments. The results of the 7 Wonders of the New World were announced in 2007 with the Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining original wonder, being named as an honorary wonder. 

In addition to all being UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the New 7 Wonders of the World are all architectural sites of enormous scale and are among some of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.

The Seven Wonders of the New World 

The Great Wall of China (China)

Christ the Redeemer (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)

Machu Picchu (Peru)

Chichen Itza (Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico)

The Roman Colosseum (Rome, Italy) 

The Taj Mahal (Agra, India) 

Petra (Jordan)

Many LIFE photographers have captured these spectacular sites, and below you will find images from the seven dynamic destinations. 

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall Of China, 1920.

Mansell Collection / LIFE Picture Collection

U.S. President, Richard Nixon, visit The Great Wall of China, 1972.

John Dominis / LIFE Picture Collection

From the September 8, 1941 issue of LIFE: “From a plane, you can see the Great Wall of China, writhing and coiling like a frozen dragon across 1,500 miles of the North.”

Christ the Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer Statue, 1941.

Hart Preston / LIFE Picture Collection

Christ the Redeemer, Tijuca Forest on the Corcovado Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1973.

Alfred Eisenstaedt / LIFE Picture Collection

Machu Picchu 

View of terraces in the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, 1947.

Dmitri Kessel / LIFE Picture Collection

The Ruins of Machu Picchu, 1945.

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

Incan ruins at Machu Picchu, 1948.

Dmitri Kessel / LIFE Picture Collection

A view showing the temple with the alter and sundial at Machu Picchu in Urubamba , Peru, 1945.

Frank Scherschel / LIFE Picture Collection

From the January 19, 1968 issue of LIFE: “Locked between two massive peaks of the Andes, and balanced at the edge of sheer, menacing abyss, lie the ruined palaces and temples of an Incan City. Machu Picchu. The jungle growths that obscured Machu Picchu for centuries have been cleared away. But the natives swear the ancient gods still linger, laughing and whispering among themselves.”

Chichen Itza

The Mayan temple, Chichen Itza, in ruins, Mexico, 1946.

Dmitri Kessel / LIFE Picture Collection

Ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza built by Mayans in 6th century dedicated to a godlike leader, Kukulcan, 1946.

Dmitri Kessel / LIFE Picture Collection

Cultural site in Central America, Chichen Itza, Yucatan.

Mansell Collection / LIFE Picture Collection

Cultural Site in Central America, Chichen Itza, Yucutan.

Mansell Collection / LIFE Picture Collection

The Roman Colosseum 

A view showing the interior of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy in 1940.

Thomas D. McAvoy / LIFE Picture Collection

Exterior view of the Roman Colosseum, Italy, 1940.

Thomas D. McAvoy / LIFE Picture Collection

A night-time view of the ruins of the Roman Colosseum, Italy, 1940.

Carl Mydans / LIFE Picture Collection

Crowds of people in the city near the Roman Colosseum, 1944.

George Silk / LIFE Picture Collection

Taj Mahal

On tour with the United Service Organizations in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II, India, December 1944.

US Army Signal Corps / The LIFE Picture Collection

Aerial view of the famed Taj Mahal, 1944.

Thomas D. McAvoy / LIFE Picture Collection

Taj Mahal by Moonlight, 1952.

James Burke / LIFE Picture Collection

Mrs. John F. Kennedy during tour of India visiting the Taj Mahal, 1962.

Art Rickerby / LIFE Picture Collection

From the August 31, 1962 issue of LIFE: “Shimmering in the moonlight as delicate and cool as its own white marble skin, the Taj Mahal at Agra, India floats in a romantic dream which has charmed tourists for 300 years and has made ‘The Taj’ the most famous mausoleum in the world.”

Petra

Petra, Jordan.

Mansell Collection / LIFE Picture Collection

Petra, Jordan.

Mansell Collection / LIFE Picture Collection

Petra, Jordan.

Mansell Collection / LIFE Picture Collection

From the October 31, 1949 issue of LIFE: “Hidden in a narrow, sheer-sided valley in the craggy wilderness of southern Trans-Jordan are the ruins of the strangest city ever built by man. Its name is Petra, which means ‘rock,’ and is aptly named. For here, carved like giant cameos into the faces of towering pink and orange cliffs, are hundreds of tombs, temples, and palaces whose severe classic beauty stands out in fantastic contrast to the windworn living rock of which they are a part.”

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