The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World

Stonehenge - Stonehenge, in many peoples' minds, is the most mysterious place in the world. This set of stones laid out in concentric rings and horseshoe shapes on the empty Salisbury Plain, is, at the age of 4,000 years, one of the oldest, and certainly best preserved, megalithic (ancient stone) structures on Earth, but we know almost nothing about who built Stonehenge and why.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa: Flawed Beauty - In 1990 an international team of engineers, mathematicians, and historians met on the Azores Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Their task was to figure out how to save an 800-year-old historic building that was close to collapsing. The structure was then tilted by 5.5 degrees to one side. If something wasn't done soon, the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa would come crashing to the ground.

Coliseum: The Great Arena - The Flavian Amphitheater, as it was then known would become the largest public entertainment venue in the Roman Empire and eventually a symbol of the city of Rome itself. For 18 centuries it remained the largest amphitheater in the world. Today we call this zenith of Roman architecture and engineering the Coliseum.

Hagia Sophia: The Place of Holy Wisdom - Before it became a famed Islamic Mosque this wonder of the medieval world was the largest cathedral on the planet for almost a thousand years.

The Great Wall - In China there is something that for hundreds of years has let its long, snake-like form lay across the Asian countryside defending it from outsiders. Many writers have likened this thing to a dragon. Most people, however, call it the Great Wall of China.

The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa - Tradition has it that on Friday, September 28th, 1900, in Alexandria, Egypt, a donkey, hauling a cart full of stone, made a misstep and disappeared into a hole in the ground. If that story is accurate, this beast of burden made one of the most astounding discoveries in archeological history: A set of rock-cut tombs with features unlike that of any other catacomb in the ancient world.

The Lost Porcelain Pagoda - "The best contrived and noblest structure of all the East," said theFrench mathematician, Le Comte, when he saw it. This 19th century visitor to China was referring to the astonishing Tower of Najing, a wondrous temple that today is gone.

Sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century a list entitled The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World started to be found among the various catalogs of marvels. It has alternately also been entitled the Wonders of the Middle Ages, the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, the Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind, and the Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages. The list includes Stonehenge, the Coliseum, the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, the Great Wall of China, the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, Hagia Sophia and Leaning Tower of Pisa. The list does not actually seem to date back into the middle ages t times as the titles, including the words Medieval and the term Middle Ages, did not become popular until the Enlightenment around the 17th century. Moreover, the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa were not discovered until, the beginning of the 20th century.

It is possible, however, that other wonders may have occupied earlier versions of the list. Some of the alternate candidates include the Taj Mahal, the Cairo Citadel, the Ely Cathedral and Cluny Abbey