Way before bucket lists became a thing, globetrotters have been travelling to countries which have one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The iconic monuments, from India’s Taj Mahal and the Colosseum in Italy to China’s Great Wall, have been part of countless tours and itineraries. There have also been tours that are specifically crafted to see the Seven Wonders in less than a month.

While we have all studied, heard about or seen the Seven Wonders, very few know the story behind how these wonders were shortlisted.
It was during one of our team meetings, that we wondered why certain popular ancient monuments did not make it to the list. So, we dug up a little and learnt about probably the most fascinating story around tourism.

Here’s the story:

Before the official list, there was one more list of epic man-made creations. This was put together in the 2nd century, BCE by the famous Greek historian Herodotus. He wrote about the seven great architectural achievements. It included the Colossus of Rhodes, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

These belonged to the ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilizations.

Of these, three – the Statue of Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Temple of Artemis – were destroyed by the 4th century. Although this list got an upgrade, he was responsible for planting the seeds.

Several centuries later, a Swiss filmmaker and museum curator named Bernard Weber took advantage of the newly born internet and computers in Europe in the 1990s.
“The renowned Ancient Wonders belong to antiquity and, except the Pyramids, none remains in existence. There has never been any true public consensus on the last 2000 years of human achievement. The beginning of the new millennium is a poignant historical moment for determining The Official New 7 Wonders of the World. The Internet is perhaps the only democratic means of distributing information around the world since it is free to everyone who has access to a computer and telephone network. That is why we are urging the world’s population to participate in this free vote which pays tribute to our collective global cultural heritage,” he said in a letter posted on the official website of the New 7 Wonders.

Bernard involved millions of people across the world to cast their votes for 21 man-made creations. The results were announced in 2007, at a ceremony in Lisbon’s Benfica Stadium. Celebrities including Ben Kingsley, Hilary Swank and Bipasha Basu were the hosts.
Amir Dossal, executive director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships, recognized the New7Wonders Foundation’s ongoing efforts to promote the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Among the highlights of the evening were performances by Jennifer Lopez and Jose Carreras, as well as Dulce Pontes, Chaka Khan, Alessandro Safina and Joaquín Cortés.

An important point to note here is that these Seven Wonders are not recognised by UNESCO and are different from the latter’s list of world heritage sites.

When the Seven Wonders were launched, there were people and institutions around the world that were unhappy with the list. Government officials in Egypt protested as the Pyramids of Giza from the original 2nd Century BCE list did not make it to the new list. The ministry said that the Seven Wonders should have been shortlisted by a cultural institution and not by one man.

Likewise, people were upset that Sydney’s Opera House and the Acropolis of Athens were not cut. “The list of the “7 New Wonders of the World” will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world,” reads the UNESCO press release.

1.The Statue of Christ Redeemer, Brazil
2.The Great Wall of China,China
3.Chichén Itzá, Mexico
4.The Colosseum, Italy
5.Machu Picchu, Peru
6.Taj Mahal, India
7.Petra, Jordan