18 Most Incredible Man-Made Wonders of the World

The world is replete with awe-inspiring man-made structures that showcase what human creativity, ingenuity, determination, and technology can produce. Whether ancient or modern, this article explores 18 such impressive structures around the world and the awe-inspiring human stories behind their creation.

Petra, Jordan

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Business Insider reports that this 10,000-year-old city carved directly into red sandstone cliffs is one of the newest wonders of the world. Petra was once the thriving capital of the Nabataean Kingdom and is now an archaeological wonder, famed for its intricate façades, ingenious water conduit system, and its blend of Eastern and Hellenistic architectural styles.

Taj Mahal, India

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This white marble mausoleum, located in Agra, India, is a symbol of love and loss. According to UNESCO, the beautiful tomb was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632–48 AD, in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It combines elements of various architectural styles and has symmetrical gardens with several pools and gateways.

Machu Picchu, Peru

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Perched high in the Andes Mountains, this 15th-century stone city is a great example of the Incan Empire’s ingenuity and strong spiritual beliefs. The Collector says the citadel is made up of more than 150 buildings (including temples and homes) that have a sophisticated and well-preserved dry-stone construction that required no mortar.

Great Wall of China

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Completed in 220 BC and stretching over 13,000 miles, the Great Wall of China was built as a defensive structure and was improved and extended by different rulers over many years. It traverses rugged terrain and reaches heights of up to 35 feet—impressive in a time before electricity or modern machines.

The Colosseum, Italy

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The might and glory of the Roman Empire are showcased in this ancient amphitheater, capable of seating 50,000 spectators. Built from 70 to 72 AD, it was the site of public spectacles like gladiatorial battles and chariot races. It shows some advanced engineering techniques for the time, including the use of concrete and sophisticated arches.

Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

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Built in 1931, this statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro from the summit of Mount Corcovado is a cultural icon of Brazil. The Art Deco statue stands 98 feet tall, with its arms stretched wide in a gesture of peace, and is made from concrete and soapstone. Study.com says the statue is one of the new ‘7 wonders of the world’ due to its impressive size.

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

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Located on the outskirts of Cairo, these ancient tombs are the only surviving wonder of the ancient world. Built in honor of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, they were filled with secret passages, traps, and vaults to hold and protect the pharaoh’s many treasures. The largest, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, was the tallest man-made structure in the world for 3,800 years.

Stonehenge, United Kingdom

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The BBC calls this Salisbury Plain monument one of the most famous wonders of the ancient world and writes, “No one knows for certain the reason why Stonehenge was built. The stones that form the inner ring came from the Preseli Mountains in Wales.” The stones, each 13 feet high, were transported 150 miles and erected by prehistoric peoples without modern tools!

Chichen Itza, Mexico

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This large pre-Columbian city was built by the Mayan people between 600 and 750 AD and is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. The site showcases several architectural styles influenced over centuries by different Mayan populations. The centerpiece, the Temple of Kukulcan, has impressive astronomical elements linked to the solar calendar.

The Parthenon, Greece

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This ancient Greek temple stands atop the Acropolis in Greece’s capital, Athens, and is dedicated to the goddess Athena, after whom the city is named. Constructed in the 5th century BC, its Doric columns, classical architecture, and impressive size symbolize the artistry, wealth, and skill of ancient Greece.

The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

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Guarding the pyramid complex at Giza is a limestone statue of a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human’s head, believed to represent the Pharaoh Khafre. Carved directly out of the limestone bedrock, it’s the world’s largest and oldest monolithic statue, showcasing the impressive craftsmanship of ancient Egyptian sculptors.

Eiffel Tower, France

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According to La Tour Eiffel, “The Eiffel Tower was built to be one of the main attractions at the Paris World’s Fair in 1889.” The iron lattice tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel and is a global icon of France; standing at 1,083 feet, it was the world’s tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building (New York) in 1930.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, it was transformed into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century. It now attracts thousands of tourists every year who admire its grand scale, intricate carvings, unique architecture, and profound spirituality.

The Forbidden City, China

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Located in Beijing, this huge, ancient complex served as the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. It consists of nearly 1,000 buildings that housed emperors, their households, and the government for nearly 500 years. The complex has traditional Chinese palatial architecture and is preserved as a World Heritage Site.

The Statue of Liberty, USA

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The National Park Service states that this 305-foot-tall statue and plinth was a gift from France to the U.S. in 1886, intended as a friendly symbol of independence and freedom. It stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor and depicts Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, welcoming visitors with a torch and a tablet inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

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Known worldwide for its unintended tilt (resulting from an unstable foundation), construction of the tower began in the 12th century. Its odd angle became apparent during construction and only worsened over time. Despite its precarious lean, the tower has survived for centuries and is a fantastic example of medieval European architecture.

Sydney Opera House, Australia

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The most iconic Australian building, the Opera House, is a multi-venue performing arts center on the waterfront of Sydney Harbour. It is easily recognizable, with a unique series of gleaming white sail-shaped shells making up the roof structure. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and completed in 1959, it’s often described as a modern architectural beauty.

The Hagia Sophia, Turkey

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Originally built in 537 AD as a Christian cathedral in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), this religious building served as a mosque after the city fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, and it is now a museum. Its massive dome and impressive engineering (for the time) often act as inspiration for modern architects.

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