50 Wonders of the World


From the Introduction:

We live in a world that has grown complacent of the truly wondrous. 

So much is possible at the click of a mouse that we sometimes forget
the importance – and humility – of wonder, of admiration for any
achievement that, to use the phrase of a previous generation, beggars belief.


Wonders_man-made 1


This list of fifty man-made wonders of the world is unashamedly personal. 
I have been drawn to those wonders that seemed to me to be both the most
audacious and the most memorable, spectacles that do indeed provide wonder. 
Most are from previous centuries, reminders that whatever the achievement
of our own technologically advanced civilization, previous cultures were
capable of extraordinary monuments.

It can take a lifetime to make one’s way to as many Wonders as one can,
and those visits can mark milestones:  the Pyramids I first saw at night,
lit up for a Son et Lumiere performance;  the Florence Duomo with a girl
I loved;  the Bilbao Guggenheim with my family, the children impressed
with Jeff Koons’s giant Puppy Dog of flowers outside the building and Frank
Gehry’s luminous design, just as I had been with Neuschwanstein Castle when
their age.  

Certain places have moved me exceptionally.  The tragic history of the Solovetsky
Islands, with the use of the monastery as a central part of the Gulag Archipelago
by the Soviet penal system, must colour any view of it.  Likewise it is difficult to
visit the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem without being acutely conscious of both
the differences and the similarities between the great religions that dispute that city. 
And to trace the cave paintings of Altamira or of other Paleolithic sites, created over
10,000 years before the Pyramids, is truly wondrous – the sense that even at the very
beginnings of human consciousness we were already capable of such artistic imagination
and bold execution is both humbling and enlightening.


Published by Quercus


Yes I know there are some I missed

Fifty overall Wonders allows room for manoeuvre, so in addition to those that might figure
in anybody’s selection, I have also included less familiar icons such as the Minaret of Jam,
Monte Alban and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  It is axiomatic of such choices that they will
provoke the reader to question both the inclusion and exclusion of some;  indeed it is part of
the pleasure of the list.  Doubtless Philo received complaints, particularly from Athenians,
that he had included Phidias’s statue of Zeus at Olympia in his original list of 7 Wonders of the World,
but not the same sculptor’s statue of Athena at the Parthenon, or for that matter the Parthenon itself.


So what are the 50 Wonders I chose ?   (with my top ‘Seven Wonders’ in red)



Hagia Sophia, Istanbul    [see sample layout as in book]

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem [see full text version]

Petra, Jordan 

The Minaret of Jam, Afghanistan



 Peterhof, St Petersburg

 Solovetsky Monastery



 The Red Fort, Delhi

 The Golden Temple

 Taj Mahal




 Angkor Wat, Cambodia

 Potala Palace, Lhasa

 The Great Wall of China

 The Forbidden City, Beijing

 Itsukushima shrine, Japan 

 Hall of the Great Buddha, Japan 




 Sydney Opera House

 Easter Island statues (Rapa Nui) [see full text version]



 The Empire State Building

 Golden Gate Bridge

 Lincoln Memorial

 Monte Albán, Mexico 

 Chichén Itzá, Mexico

 Tikal, Guatemala



 Nasca, Peru

 Machu Picchu, Peru

 Tiahuanaco, Bolivia





 Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

 The Alhambra, Granada

 The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

 The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

 Altamira Cave Paintings, Spain


 Eiffel Tower

 Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

 The Grand Canal, Venice

 The Duomo, Florence

 The Colosseum

 The Pantheon

 The  Parthenon

 Knossos, Crete



Djenné Mosque, Mali

 Lalibela and surrounding churches, Ethiopia

 Great Zimbabwe

 The Pyramids of Giza

 Abu Simbel, Egypt

St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai 




50 Wonders of the World: The Greatest Man-made Constructions from the Pyramids of Giza to the Golden Gate Bridge

2 thoughts on “50 Wonders of the World”

  1. There will always be exclusions from such a short list. One that springs to mind for me, after a recent visit to Bhutan is Taktsang (the Tiger’s Nest Monestery). …an amazing place.

    I picked up The White Rock back in 2008 during a 2 month trekking trip to Peru and have since read Conchineal Red. Both were excellent reads and added a lot to my understanding of the country. Good stuff, now I want to go back and see all the bits I missed!


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