Guide to the 7 Wonders of the World: History and Travel Tips

oin us on this journey through the 7 Wonders of the World as we uncover their histories and gather useful tips for your adventure. Your journey starts here.

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Agata

By Agata

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Introduction

Imagine standing on the ancient stones of the Great Wall of China or gazing up at the majestic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. The 7 Wonders of the World are not just incredible buildings; they are symbols of human creativity and history. Each wonder has its own story, showing us the cultures that built them and the dreams they had.

This guide will help you explore these amazing places. You'll learn interesting historical facts and get practical travel tips.

Whether you're planning a trip or just dreaming about these wonders, this guide will prepare you for your journey. From hiking to Machu Picchu to exploring Petra's carvings, you'll find out what makes each wonder special and how to enjoy your visit.

Join us on this journey through the 7 Wonders of the World. Let's uncover their histories and gather useful tips for your visit. Your adventure starts here.

1. Great Wall of China

Historical Overview

The Great Wall of China was built over several dynasties, starting as early as the 7th century BC. The most well-known sections were constructed by the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). The wall stretches over 13,000 miles, with construction involving millions of workers, including soldiers, peasants, and prisoners. The Great Wall was primarily built for defence against invasions and raids by nomadic tribes from the north. It also served as a means of border control, allowing China to impose duties on goods transported along the Silk Road and regulate trade and immigration. One famous legend associated with the Great Wall of China is about Meng Jiangnu, whose tears are said to have collapsed a section of the wall after her husband died building it.

Travel Tips

The best times to visit the Great Wall are during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild and the scenery is at its most beautiful.

Best Places to Visit:

  • Badaling The most popular and well-preserved section, easily accessible from Beijing.

  • Mutianyu Known for its stunning scenery and fewer crowds, also close to Beijing.

  • Jinshanling Offers a more rugged and less restored experience, great for hiking.

  • Simatai Known for its steep climbs and night tours.

What to Bring and Wear:

  • Comfortable walking shoes with good grip.

  • Weather-appropriate clothing: layers for changing conditions, a hat, and sunscreen for sunny days.

  • Plenty of water and snacks, especially if you plan to hike the less accessible sections.

  • A small first-aid kit and a camera to capture the stunning views.

Accessibility and Guided Tours

  • Most popular sections, like Badaling and Mutianyu, are accessible by public transport or private tours from Beijing.

  • Cable cars and chairlifts are available at some sections for easier access.

  • Guided tours can provide historical context and ensure you see the most interesting parts without getting lost.

  • For those with mobility issues, Badaling is the most accessible section, with paved paths and handrails.

2. Petra, Jordan

Historical Overview

Petra, known as the "Rose City" due to the color of the stone from which it is carved, was established around the 6th century BC by the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab tribe. It became the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom and flourished due to its strategic location and advanced water management system. Petra was a major trading hub, connecting trade routes between Arabia, Egypt, and the Mediterranean. The city's wealth is reflected in its magnificent architecture, including rock-cut temples, tombs, and a sophisticated water conduit system. The most iconic structure is Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), believed to have been a royal tomb. Petra remained unknown to the Western world until 1812 when Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered it. Since then, it has become a significant archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting visitors worldwide.

Travel Tips

How to Get There

  • By Air: The nearest major airport is Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, about 3-4 hours by car to Petra.

  • By Bus: JETT buses run daily from Amman to Petra. The journey takes about 4-5 hours.

  • By Car: Renting a car is a convenient option, with well-maintained roads leading to Petra.

Entry Requirements and Fees

  • Visa: Most visitors will need a visa to enter Jordan, which can be obtained on arrival at the airport or in advance online.

  • Entry Fees: Entry to Petra costs about 50 Jordanian Dinars (JOD) for a one-day ticket. Discounts are available for multi-day passes.

  • Jordan Pass: Consider purchasing the Jordan Pass, which includes visa fees and entry to many tourist sites, including Petra.

Must-See Spots Within Petra

  • The Siq: The narrow, winding gorge that leads to the city, offering a dramatic entrance.

  • Al-Khazneh (The Treasury): The iconic façade carved into the sandstone cliff.

  • The Monastery (Ad Deir): A monumental structure similar to The Treasury but larger and located further up in the mountains.

  • The Royal Tombs: A series of grand tombs with intricate carvings.

  • The Great Temple: An impressive archaeological site showcasing the grandeur of Nabataean architecture.

  • Petra By Night: A magical experience with the city lit by candlelight, offered on selected evenings.

Local Customs and Etiquette

  • Dress Modestly: Jordan is a conservative country. Wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees.

  • Respect the Sites: Do not climb on the monuments or remove any stones.

  • Local Etiquette: Greet people politely and be respectful of local customs and traditions. Photography is generally allowed, but always ask permission before taking photos of people.

  • Hydration and Health: Carry plenty of water, use sunscreen, and wear a hat to protect against the sun. Comfortable walking shoes are essential for navigating Petra’s rugged terrain.

3. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

Historical Overview

The idea for Christ the Redeemer was first proposed in the 1850s, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that the project gained momentum. The statue was designed by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and created by French sculptor Paul Landowski. Construction began in 1926 and took five years to complete, with the statue being inaugurated on October 12, 1931. Standing 98 feet tall (30 meters) with an arm span of 92 feet (28 meters), the statue is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone.

Christ the Redeemer is a symbol of Christianity and a cultural icon of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. It represents peace, welcoming, and the warmth of the Brazilian people. The statue’s presence atop Mount Corcovado has made it one of the most recognizable landmarks worldwide, attracting millions of visitors each year.

In 2007, Christ the Redeemer was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Travel Tips

Best Viewing Times

  • Early Morning: Visiting early helps avoid the crowds and enjoy cooler temperatures.

  • Late Afternoon: The light is ideal for photography, and you can watch the sunset over Rio.

  • Avoiding Peak Times: Weekends and holidays can be particularly busy, so try to visit on a weekday if possible.

How to Reach the Site

  • By Train: The Corcovado Train is a popular and scenic option, departing from Cosme Velho and winding through Tijuca Forest to the statue.

  • By Van: Official vans run from various locations, including Copacabana and Largo do Machado.

  • Hiking: For the adventurous, there are hiking trails through Tijuca National Park leading up to the statue, offering a more immersive experience.

Ticketing and Tour Options

  • Advance Tickets: Purchase tickets online in advance to skip the lines. Tickets include round-trip transportation via train or van.

  • Guided Tours: Consider a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of the statue. Tours often include visits to other nearby attractions.

  • Combo Tickets: Some tour packages combine a visit to Christ the Redeemer with other Rio highlights, such as Sugarloaf Mountain.

Safety and Health Considerations

  • Weather: Check the weather forecast before your visit. The view can be obstructed by fog or rain.

  • Hydration and Sun Protection: Bring water, wear sunscreen, and wear a hat to protect against the sun.

  • Crowds and Pickpockets: Be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded areas. Keep valuables secure and out of sight.

  • Accessibility: There are elevators and escalators to help visitors reach the base of the statue from the train or van drop-off points, making it accessible for those with limited mobility.

4. Machu Picchu, Peru

Historical Overview

Machu Picchu, often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas," was built in the 15th century during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti. The site is situated on a mountain ridge 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level. It remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911. Machu Picchu is a masterpiece of Inca engineering and architecture, showcasing their advanced knowledge of construction and astronomy.

There are several theories about the purpose of Machu Picchu. Some suggest it was a royal estate for Inca emperors, while others believe it was a religious site, an astronomical observatory, or a combination of these. The site's layout, with its precise stone constructions, agricultural terraces, and alignment with celestial events, supports these theories.

Machu Picchu faces challenges due to tourism and natural erosion. The Peruvian government, in collaboration with international organizations, has implemented measures to preserve the site. These include regulating the number of daily visitors, maintaining strict trail guidelines, and conducting ongoing archaeological and restoration work to protect the ancient structures.

Travel Tips

Hiking Options and Permits

  • Inca Trail: The most famous route to Machu Picchu, requiring a 4-day trek. Permits are limited and must be booked months in advance.

  • Salkantay Trek: A challenging 5-day hike through diverse landscapes, also requiring advance booking.

  • Lares Trek: A 4-day trek that offers a cultural experience, passing through traditional Andean villages.

  • Train to Aguas Calientes: For those preferring not to hike, trains run from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. From there, buses take visitors up to the site.

Altitude Preparation and Acclimatization Tips

  • Arrive Early: Spend a few days in Cusco (11,152 feet/3,399 meters) to acclimatize before heading to Machu Picchu.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol to help your body adjust.

  • Coca Leaves: Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea can help alleviate altitude sickness symptoms.

  • Medication: Consider taking altitude sickness medication after consulting with a healthcare provider.

Packing Essentials

  • Clothing: Dress in layers, as temperatures can vary widely. A waterproof jacket is essential for rain.

  • Footwear: Comfortable, sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support.

  • Backpack: A small daypack for essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat.

  • Documents: Passport (required for entry), permits, and tickets.

  • First Aid: A basic first aid kit, including altitude sickness medication and insect repellent.

Local Guides and Tour Recommendations

  • Hiring a Guide: Consider hiring a local guide to enhance your understanding of Machu Picchu's history and significance. Guides can be arranged in advance or hired at the entrance.

  • Tour Companies: Numerous reputable tour companies offer guided hikes and tours to Machu Picchu. Some well-known companies include G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, and Alpaca Expeditions.

  • Group vs. Private Tours: Decide whether you prefer a group tour, which is more social and often cheaper, or a private tour for a more personalized experience.

5. Chichen Itza, Mexico

Historical Overview

Chichen Itza was a major Mayan city located in the Yucatán Peninsula. It was established around the 6th century AD and became a significant political, economic, and religious center between the 9th and 12th centuries. The city declined by the 13th century, likely due to internal strife and drought, and was eventually abandoned.

Chichen Itza is renowned for its impressive architectural and astronomical achievements:

  • El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcán): A step pyramid with 365 steps, corresponding to the days of the year. During the equinoxes, shadows create the illusion of a serpent descending the pyramid.

  • The Great Ball Court: The largest and best-preserved ball court in ancient Mesoamerica.

  • El Caracol (The Observatory): A circular tower used by the Mayans to observe astronomical events.

  • Temple of the Warriors: A large temple complex with carved columns depicting warriors.

In the 19th century, explorers like John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood brought Chichen Itza to the attention of the wider world through their writings and illustrations. Chichen Itza was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. In 2007, it was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Travel Tips

Best Times to Visit

  • Season: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from November to April. The weather is more comfortable, and there is less rain.

  • Time of Day: Arrive early in the morning when the site opens to avoid the heat and crowds. Late afternoon visits can also be pleasant.

Navigating the Site and Avoiding Crowds

  • Early Arrival: Getting to the site as soon as it opens (typically around 8 AM) helps avoid the peak tourist rush.

  • Guided Tours: Consider hiring a guide at the entrance or joining a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the history and significance of the structures.

  • Plan Your Route: Start with the most famous sites, like El Castillo and the Great Ball Court, and then explore the less crowded areas.

Nearby Attractions

  • Cenote Ik Kil: A beautiful natural sinkhole located a short drive from Chichen Itza, perfect for a refreshing swim.

  • Valladolid: A charming colonial town nearby, where you can explore more Mayan history, shop for local crafts, and enjoy traditional Yucatán cuisine.

  • Ek Balam: Another impressive Mayan ruin site close to Chichen Itza, known for its well-preserved sculptures and less crowded atmosphere.

Cultural Norms and Respectful Behavior

  • Respect the Monuments: Do not climb on or touch the ancient structures. Follow all site regulations and guidelines.

  • Photography: While photography is generally allowed, be mindful of other visitors and avoid using drones unless you have special permission.

  • Local Etiquette: Dress modestly and respect local customs. Be polite and patient, especially with local vendors and guides.

  • Environment: Help preserve the site by not littering and staying on designated paths.

6. Roman Colosseum, Italy

Historical Overview

The Roman Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in AD 70-72 and completed in AD 80 by his son Titus. It is an architectural and engineering marvel, capable of holding up to 50,000 spectators. The structure utilized a complex system of vaults and concrete, which was revolutionary at the time. The Colosseum stands at 157 feet (48 meters) tall and measures 620 by 513 feet (189 by 156 meters).

The Colosseum served as a grand arena for gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, public spectacles, and mock naval battles. These events were not only entertainment but also a means to demonstrate the power and generosity of the emperors. Over time, the Colosseum has witnessed significant historical events, including the martyrdom of Christians and public executions.

Travel Tips

Best Visiting Hours and Seasons

  • Seasons: The best times to visit are during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are thinner.

  • Hours: Visit early in the morning when the Colosseum opens (usually around 8:30 AM) or later in the afternoon to avoid the peak tourist rush and midday heat.

Skip-the-Line Tips

  • Advance Tickets: Purchase tickets online in advance to avoid long lines. Combined tickets for the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill are available and offer good value.

  • Guided Tours: Booking a guided tour can provide quicker entry and a richer experience with insights from knowledgeable guides.

  • Roma Pass: Consider getting a Roma Pass, which includes free entry to two museums or archaeological sites, discounts, and unlimited use of public transportation.

Nearby Landmarks to Include in Your Trip

  • Roman Forum: Adjacent to the Colosseum, the Forum was the heart of ancient Rome, with ruins of important government buildings and temples.

  • Palatine Hill: Overlooking the Forum, this area offers impressive ruins of imperial palaces and fantastic views of the city.

  • Arch of Constantine: Located near the Colosseum, this triumphal arch commemorates Constantine’s victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.

  • Capitoline Hill and Museums: A short walk away, featuring important art and archaeological collections.

  • Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano: Also known as the Altar of the Fatherland, this monument is dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II and offers panoramic city views.

7. Taj Mahal, India

Historical Overview

The Taj Mahal was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth. It serves as her mausoleum and is a symbol of Shah Jahan's profound love and grief. The construction took about 22 years and involved thousands of artisans and craftsmen.

The Taj Mahal is renowned for its stunning white marble façade, intricate inlay work, and harmonious proportions. It incorporates elements of Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Indian architectural styles. The central dome is flanked by four minarets, and the walls are adorned with intricate floral patterns and calligraphy inlaid with precious stones. The surrounding gardens are laid out in a charbagh (four-part garden) pattern, representing paradise.

Travel Tips

Ideal Visiting Times

  • Seasons: The best time to visit is during the cooler months from October to March. The weather is more pleasant, making it easier to explore the site.

  • Time of Day: Early morning (around sunrise) and late afternoon (around sunset) are ideal for avoiding crowds and experiencing the Taj Mahal in the most beautiful natural light. Visiting at sunrise or sunset also allows you to see the marble change colors.

Entry Procedures and Ticketing

  • Tickets: Purchase tickets online in advance through the official Taj Mahal website to avoid long lines. Tickets are available in different categories, with separate pricing for Indian and foreign visitors.

  • Security: Security is strict, and large bags, food, and certain electronic items are not allowed. Only small bags with essential items are permitted.

  • Guides: Hiring a licensed guide can enhance your visit by providing detailed historical and architectural insights. Official guides are available at the entrance.

What to Expect: Crowds, Weather, and Local Vendors

  • Crowds: The Taj Mahal is one of the most visited monuments in the world, so expect large crowds, especially during peak tourist season. Arriving early can help you avoid the biggest crowds.

  • Weather: The summer months (April to June) can be extremely hot, while the monsoon season (July to September) brings heavy rains. Dress appropriately for the weather and carry water, sunscreen, and a hat.

  • Local Vendors: You’ll encounter many local vendors selling souvenirs, guides, and photos. Be prepared for persistent sales pitches and always negotiate prices. It’s best to buy from authorized shops for genuine items.

Conclusion

In this guide, we've explored seven wonders of the world, each with its own unique history and cultural significance. From the ancient Great Wall of China to the iconic Taj Mahal in India, these wonders stand as testaments to human ingenuity, perseverance, and artistic achievement.

Visiting these wonders allows us to connect with our global heritage, understanding the achievements and challenges faced by our ancestors. It's crucial to preserve these sites for future generations, ensuring they continue to inspire and educate.


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