Category World Wonders

What are the ancient wonders of the world?

Did you know that there are monuments, tombs, and huge walls that were built hundreds or even thousands of years ago? Sometimes only small parts, or ruins, of these places remain. But you can still visit them today.

In England, tourists and scientists alike are amazed by Stonehenge, a group of huge, rough-cut stones set in circles. Scientists believe that ancient people built Stonehenge as a gathering place. Much of the monument is gone, but scientists think that when it was first built, an earth wall about 98 metres across circled it. Thirty blocks of grey sandstone stood like guards 4 metres above the ground.

Another wonder from long ago is the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt. Pyramids were built by Egyptians about 4,500 years ago as tombs for their kings. The Great Pyramid contains more than 2 million stone blocks.

In Peru, you can visit the ruins of Machu Picchu, once a walled city on the top of a mountain. It was built during the late 1400’s by the Inca and was probably a home for the Inca royal family.

The longest structure ever built is the Great Wall of China. Its main part stretches more than 8,850 kilometres. The wall was built to protect the northern Chinese border against enemies. Most of the wall that stands today was built in the 1400’s.

Another famous ruin is the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. The structure was completed in A.D. 90. From that time until 404, the Colosseum was a place where people could watch fights between gladiators who were slaves or paid fighters. Battles between men and wild animals and other events entertained Romans. The Colosseum was later abandoned. Many of its stones were used to build other structures.

The Colosseum was the largest outdoor theatre in ancient Rome. It could seat about 50,000 people. It is made of brick and concrete and is surrounded by 80 entrances.

The Parthenon is a famous ruin on top of a hill in Athens, Greece. It was constructed between 447 and 432 B.C. The Parthenon was a temple built to honour the Greek goddess Athena.

The Parthenon is shaped like a rectangle. It stands about 18 metres high. When the Parthenon was built, it had many brightly coloured statues and sculptured panels that showed stories from ancient Greece. Today, many of those statues are at museums in Athens and in London, England.


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What are modern wonders of the world?

People have built many incredible structures. Some soar to dizzying heights. Others cross huge lakes or rivers. Here are just a few modern wonders you can see around the world.

The Eiffel Tower is a huge iron tower in Paris. Built for a world’s fair in 1889, the tower rises 300 metres. You can take stairs or lifts to the top. The Eiffel Tower was the highest structure in the world for many years.

In Toronto, Canada, stands the CN Tower, one of the world’s highest free-standing structures. The communications and observation tower stands 553 metres high. It was completed in 1976.

In 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge opened in Japan. Its main suspension span, the world’s longest, stretches 1,990 metres across the Akashi Strait. The bridge took about 10 years to build.

The Channel Tunnel is an undersea railway that connects the United Kingdom with France. It opened in 1994. Fast electric trains carry cars and buses, people and goods through the tunnel, under the English Channel. The journey can take less than 35 minutes.

The Suez Canal waterway joins the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea in Egypt. It is 190 kilometres long and 19.5 metres deep. When the canal opened in 1869, ships travelling between England and India no longer had to sail around Africa. This shortened the trip by 8,000 kilomteres!

Another famous canal was built between North America and South America to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. When the Panama Canal was finished in 1914, it shortened the trip between New York City, New York and San Francisco, California, by 14,500 kilometres. Ships no longer had to sail around South America.


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Which is the largest ice cave in the world?

The Eisriesenwelt is one of nature’s jewels. It is located in Werfen, Austria, about 40km south of Salzburg and is accessible by a steep cable car ride.

The Eisriesenwelt is the largest ice cave in the world. Gigantic walls of blue ice greet you as you enter the 42 km-long labyrinth of caves in the mountains of the Tennengebirge. Although the cave extends for over 42 km, only the first kilometre, the area that tourists are allowed to visit, is covered in ice. The rest of the cave is formed of limestone.

Eisriesenwelt was formed by the Salzach River, which eroded passageways into the mountain. The ice formations in the cave were formed by thawing snow which drained into the cave and froze during winter. Since the entrance to the caves is open year-round, chilly winter winds blow into the cave and freeze the snow inside. In summer, a cold wind from inside the cave blows toward the entrance and prevents the formations from melting.

The chilly winds blowing in and out of the cave freeze the water from the melting snow that trickles into the cracks and crevices of the rocks. The result is a crystalline wonderland of natural ice formations. Apart from the frosty stalagmites and stalactites, the shapes resemble a gushing river frozen solid in time. The more you gaze, the more variety of forms you can imagine, such as a waterfall, caste, an icy chapel or an organ! When the guide sets off magnesium flare, the cave gleams with an ethereal glow. Here, the temperature hovers at 0  and lower even in the height of summer. So visitors have to wear warm jackets and gloves.

Before the cave was studied by scientists, locals believed that it was an entrance to Hell and refused to explore it. Though it was first discovered by Anton Pooselt in 1879, expeditions to the cave began only after over 30 years.


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What is the mystery of Baalbek mysterious stones?

In the lush green valley of Bekaa, about 79 km from Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, stand the ruins of once-resplendent Roman temples. The city of Baalbek was built in Phoenician times and it was dedicated to Baal the sun god. Later, the Greeks renamed it Heliopolis or the City of the Sun. In 47 B.C., Julius Caesar made Baalbek a Roman colony, the beginning of its golden age.

Over a span of 200 years, starting from the 1st century A.D., a succession of Roman emperors supervised the construction of temples in honour of the popular Roman deities, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, as well as the god of wine Bacchus. All the temples were built on a raised platform giving a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside. Earthquakes destroyed much of Baalbek till it was re-discovered and restored in the 19th century. Today, a few Corinthian pillars, the colonnaded entrance and some sculptures and staircases are all that remain.

When archaeologists dug up the site, they found part of a massive stone wall containing three of the largest cut blocks of stone in the world. Named the Trilithon, each of the three stones would be as tall as a six-storey house if stood on end. It would be extremely difficult even with the most modern industrial cranes available today, to transport and place such large stones in a horizontal position. How did the Romans achieve such a stupendous task, not seen on this scale anywhere else in their vast empire?

The largest stone measures 19 x 4 x 3.5 metres and weighs some 800 tons. The quarry is more than a kilometer away, from where each block was transported to Baalbek, lifted up 7.5 metres and placed precisely on top of a platform of smaller stones. So precisely in fact, that it is impossible to insert the blade of a knife between the joints! Some people believed that it must have been built by the devil himself. Others believe that a supernatural or extra-terrestrial force was at work.

Another block of stone weighing about 1000 tons lies unused in the quarry. That it was too heavy for the people, who transported the Trilithion, is an explanation that doesn’t quite satisfy.


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What is special about The Binche Gilles parade?

If you are in the town of Binche in Belgium before Lent, around February-March, you can witness a masterpiece of intangible heritage in action.The carnival of Binche which has its roots in the Middle Ages is one of Europe’s oldest celebrations.

The six weeks before Lent are marked by merrymaking, masquerades, musical acts and dancing. The gala event takes place on the three days before Lent. The streets are abuzz with live music and a parade of peculiarly dressed men in peasant, Harlequin and Pierrot costumes.

The stars of the parade are the Gilles (clown-like performers). Hundreds costumes embellished with heraldic design, don wax masks.

On the last and most important day of the festivities – Mardi Gras – the Gilles appear in their full regalia from sunrise to sunset With sticks in hand to ward off ‘evil spirits’, bells attached to their belt, wooden clogs on their feet and towering headgears made of ostrich feathers, groups of Gilles parade down the town’s streets to the accompaniment of brass bands. The carnival culminates in a dance around a huge bonfire and a brilliant display of fireworks.


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What is special about Cape Perpetua?

North America is a land of natural marvels. One such is Cape Perpetua on the Oregon Coast in USA. The wooded headland that juts out into the Pacific Ocean was named by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778 in honor of St. Perpetua’s Day.

Today, Cape perpetua is popular with picnickers and hikers because of its stunning oceanic scenery. On a day, one can gaze more than 30 km into the Pacific Ocean and get a pristine watching. There is also a 600-year-old spruce tree that has been designated a ‘Heritage Tree’ by the state.

What makes the cape more fascinating are the salt water fountains which are powered by the ocean tide. One of them, called Thor’s Well is a hole in the rocky shoreline. The waters of the swelling tide swirl into the hole; when the hole fills up, the water splashes back out and collides with the incoming surge. Photographers particularly love shooting this breathtaking scene at Thor’s Well. At the Spouting Horn, another such hole, the water spews out four metres into the air like the spout of a whale.


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