Sometimes the Wonders of the World can seem almost fictional. Even for those who experience wanderlust on a day-to-day basis (guilty), the idea of actually gazing upon some of these wonders in person feels foreign or unlikely. And I’m not just talking about the ancient wonders, many of which actually don’t exist anymore; at this point, there are actually a ton of wonders, designated on different specific lists and for different reasons.
Looking through the lists of wonders, I realize two things: one is that I really do want to see a lot of them, and the other is that I’ll never cross them all off the list! So these are the five I want to prioritize.
1. Great Wall Of China
Here’s something I’m somewhat ashamed to admit: I actually saw the Matt Damon action film The Great Wall. The same movie that prompted a prominent critic to state, if this is the future for motion pictures, god help us all. The film was absolutely absurd – but oddly enough it also reignited my sense of wonder and adventure surrounding the Great Wall of China – something I suspect a lot of people in the West lose after a certain point in childhood.
No, I don’t imagine Matt Damon shooting bow and arrows at monsters on the Wall in ancient days. But when was the last time you sat and thought about the sheer size and age of this defensive structure, and the fact that it was essentially built to protect an entire country. Walking along the Wall just seems like one of the most incredible things a human being can do on Earth.
2. Bagan Temples
Located in Myanmar, the Bagan Temples are more of an area than an attraction, but as soon as you take a look at them I’m betting you’ll want to move them up your list. Basically it’s a sprawling region of Myanmar with literally thousands of temples constituting an “archaeological zone,” and you can more or less explore them as you please. The image of fields and forests with temple peaks simply shooting out at random here and there is just breathtaking, and it seems as if exploring the area in person would make you feel like a character in a very interesting movie.
3. Pyramids Of Giza
As with the Great Wall I have to confess my recent experiences with the Egyptian pyramids come largely through entertainment. Assassin’s Creed Origins (a terrific game incidentally) uses the pyramids as wonderful props for its setting. And doing a little more exploring, I’ve come across internet games that do the same, including one called Pyramid: Quest For Immortality that even dives into the concept of Egyptian burial: namely that deceased pharaohs would be reborn and live forever, and so should be buried with possessions.
Those interpretations aren’t quite as cheesy as The Great Wall, but they also have a way of masking the actual wonder of the real pyramids. It’s something I started to think about after playing some of these games, however, and the history really hit me in a new and profound way. These structures are 4,500 years old, and we still haven’t uncovered all their mysteries! I simply must see them in person.
4. Victoria Falls
This is the only attraction on my list that counts as a natural wonder, and I don’t think there’s another in this category that I’d rather see. Located on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the falls have an edge of the Earth sort of look to them. Looking at pictures, you almost can’t believe these waterfalls exist on the same planet you’re sitting on, and I just can’t wait to witness that majesty in real life one day.
5. Venice Canals
Whilst I have already been to Venice, the trip was a massive wash out and it rained so much on some days it flooded MAJORLY. We didn’t leave our hotel as much as we’d have liked and for that reason I would LOVE to be able to do Venice all over again.
The Venice canals aren’t necessarily the most spectacular or unlikely of the wonders on this list, and in fact many wouldn’t consider them a traditional wonder. That said, Condé Nast named it the eighth wonder (as part of a list of “cruise wonders” that also included places like Fiordland National Park, New Zealand and the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul). As mentioned there are a lot of different lists and accounts of world wonders, so I’ll count it!
Despite my experience last time I know Venice is a beautiful old city packed with art and history and crisscrossed by canals that people boat along. It is almost overwhelmingly romantic, and frankly the pictures tend to make it look even more magical than the descriptions. Venice is the sort of city a writer would dream up for a children’s fantasy novel – not a real place in the heart of Europe.
Where do you want to visit?