Voyager 2021 media awards
WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
APP OF THE YEAR
Travel

Seven new World Wonders for a new start to travel

Thomas Bywater

Thomas Bywater is a writer and digital producer for Herald Travel

The promise of vaccine passports and travel bubbles give the impression that international travel is just over the horizon.

Many of us are itching to plan a bit of international sightseeing. It is hard to pick just seven places to visit, with overseas destinations off the menu for over a year, but it's a good place to start.

The tradition of picking seven landmarks is a tradition that goes back to the ancient Greeks. This septacentric view of travel might seem a bit prescriptive. However, it helps distil a moment, its values and what tourists want to celebrate. Something, the Swiss curator Bernard Weber helped revive in 2000, when he began a public poll to pick seven new wonders for the new millenium.

However, since march last year, so many World Wonders - Natural, Ancient and otherwise - have been off limits to visitors.

With a new start to international travel, is it time we pick a new list of World Wonders to visit?

Post pandemic, are we in need of new wonders? Photo / Mike McBey, Flickr
Post pandemic, are we in need of new wonders? Photo / Mike McBey, Flickr

The crumbling wonders are classics for a reason, but before you rush back to see the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, why not consider these seven modern day marvels which deserve a place on your itinerary:

Seven New, New World Wonders

Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo / Annie Sprat
Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo / Annie Sprat

Super trees, Singapore
The skyscraper-sized trees in Singapore's Gardens by the Bay are an iconic solution to fitting more greenery into the tiny city state.
The eighteen scaffolds are vertical forests, planted with 158,000 individual plants. The buildings are living ecosystems which invite plant life and insects into the city.

Butterflies aren't the only animals which benefit from the living towers. The structures have light shows and walkways for visitors to see.
The living superstructures of mega-flora bring green life and a new perspective to the city.

World's highest and longest glass Bridge in Zhangjiajie, China. Photo / Getty Images
World's highest and longest glass Bridge in Zhangjiajie, China. Photo / Getty Images

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, China
China's ambitions for world wonders have been evident since the completion of the Great Wall in the 1300s. However, it's the modern marvels that deserve a second look.
The Zhangjiajie glass-bottom bridge makes the most of man made and natural attractions, in the mountainous Wulingyuan province. Built from 120 glass panels, it is strong enough to carry 800 visitors at a time. You'll need a head for heights, though. Each panel provides a window onto a 360-metre drop below.

Ruyi Glass Bridge in Zhejiang also gets an honourable mention. The 'bendy bridge' structure has welcomed over 200000 brave visitors across since opening last year.

The roundabout under the atlantic: The Jellyfish Roundabout, Faroe. Photo / Faroese tunnel
The roundabout under the atlantic: The Jellyfish Roundabout, Faroe. Photo / Faroese tunnel

Jellyfish Roundabout, Faroe
The Faroe Islands are a Scandinavian archipelago, full of natural wonders such as hanging waterfalls and impossible-looking cliffs.

The Faroe Islands are full of natural wonders, now they have a man made wonder. Photo / Dylan Shaw, Unsplash
The Faroe Islands are full of natural wonders, now they have a man made wonder. Photo / Dylan Shaw, Unsplash

Yet this new world wonder is found below the surface.
A network of underwater tunnels in the Skálafjørður fiord were recently completed and are set to link traffic from the Faroese capital of Tórshavn and towns across the water.
At the centre of the network of fairy-tale like grottoes is a roundabout nicknamed the "jellyfish". The glowing roundabout under the Atlantic, Eysturoyartunnilin has been four years in the making. Decorated by Faroese artist, Tróndur Patursson the otherworldly landmark celebrates the mythology of the tunnels, said to be the domain of trolls.
The three way tunnel is set to be completed by 2023.

The Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park is the world's largest frame. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park is the world's largest frame. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Dubai Frame, UAE
Dubai is no stranger to attention-grabbing structures. The ostentatious 830-metre Burj Khalifa cries out for a photo as the world's tallest structure.
But, away from the madding crowd of the Dubai Mall, a more interesting structure might be the Dubai Frame.

The Dubai skyline as seen from the Dubai Frame. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The Dubai skyline as seen from the Dubai Frame. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The twin towers, topped off by a bridge at 150-metres – the resulting arch frames up the city state.
Completed in 2018, the world's largest picture frame adds a new perspective to the changing skyline of the city.

Hands of God: The Golden Bridge Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo / Xiquinhosilva, Creative Commons
Hands of God: The Golden Bridge Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo / Xiquinhosilva, Creative Commons

The Golden Bridge, Vietnam
The fantastical Cau Vang bridge is a sight straight out of Lord of the Rings.
Named the Golden Bridge by principal architect Vu Viet Anh, the sculptural bridge was designed to give visitors the impression of passing "through the hands of God".
The region has seen many turbulent events, from natural typhoons and earthquakes to occupation as the site of the US's main airbase during the Vietnam War.
Walking the golden-bridge provides a steady, zen-like perspective over the countryside below.
High above the mountain skyline in Da Nang the $2.9 billion project was built to deliver tourists to the scenic region.

Auroville temple, Puduchery, India. Photo / Getty Images
Auroville temple, Puduchery, India. Photo / Getty Images

Matrimandir Chennai, India

Auroville in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu was designed as a new model village for what was described as the 1960s "Indian renaissance". Auroville was designed around the shape of a spinning wheel, a national symbol for India.

Matirmandir: The eccentric centre of Auroville, Chennai. Photo / Auroville Radio, Supplied
Matirmandir: The eccentric centre of Auroville, Chennai. Photo / Auroville Radio, Supplied

Split into four zones, it is split between a residential district, an industrial district, cultural zone, and international trading zone. All of which centres around a botanical garden hub. The Matrimandir, a golden sphere, was created as a focal point for the garden.

Ocean Atlas: Jason deCaires Taylor's scupture is a modern day colossus. Photo / Supplied
Ocean Atlas: Jason deCaires Taylor's scupture is a modern day colossus. Photo / Supplied

Ocean Atlas, Bahamas
Echoing the ancient wonder of the Colossus at Rhodes, Ocean Atlas is sculptural marvel only visible under water. The sleeping giant was designed by artist Jason deCaires Taylor and continues to be the "largest single sculpture ever to be deployed underwater".
Arching its back, the titan poses as if holding up the surface of the sea.

The sixty-tonne marvel is a warning to future generations, speaking to the dangers of rising sea-levels, climate change and bleaching corals which grow around the concrete sculpture's form.

The giant squats submerged off the coast of Nassau, at the site of an old, oil-fuelled power station – which saw the Bahama's worst ecological disaster.

It was built to "empower the youth so they can help rectify the endless mistakes we have made," says deCaires Taylor.

Old world wonders

If you've begun compiling a list of must-see destinations, you're not alone.
The art of the travel Bucket List goes back to the 4th century BC, when ancient Greek Tourists picked a list of seven landmarks that summarised the riches of the world.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were picked by Greek philosopher Philo, referring to the places as Themata [ θεάματα] - literally 'sights to see'.

Post pandemic, are we in need of new wonders? Photo / David Stanley, Flickr
Post pandemic, are we in need of new wonders? Photo / David Stanley, Flickr

OG wonder the Great Pyramid at Giza is the only landmark to make both the Ancient and New Seven Wonders lists.

Cairo's pyramids remain on top of must see lists to this day, along with the much delayed opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Of course, these wonders only took into account the 'known' world. We'll never know what Philo would have thought of Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling declared was an "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Today, Giza is the last wonder standing - with the six others being lost to antiquity.

However the power of world wonders continues to be evoked to this day. In 2000, due to the decrepit state of the Ancient World Wonders, a set of Seven New World Wonders were picked to mark the new Millenium.

Along with the Great Wall of China, Petra and Machu Piccu, since being named as 'Wonders' in 2000 they have reliably become the most visited attractions on Earth. Of course, that was all pre-pandemic.

Natural wonder of the world: The Paricutin Cathedral, Mexico, swallowed by a volcano. Photo / Supplied
Natural wonder of the world: The Paricutin Cathedral, Mexico, swallowed by a volcano. Photo / Supplied

However, with a return to international travel it becomes pressing to explore beyond the prescribed bucket list destinations. As we return we will be increasingly aware of the pressures of over tourism, crowding and the role of travel in driving climate change.

There's no shortage of wonder to be found through travel, but world wonders are increasingly precious. With only one of the original Ancient Greek wonders left standing, we need to better look after the new landmarks we pick.

In 2008 a set of seven natural wonders were drawn up to promote the protection of our planet.

These natural wonders of the world include the Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon, Paricutin, Mount Everest, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Victoria Falls, and the Great Barrier Reef.