Classification of attractions and landmarks

Morning Glory, Queensland
Morning Glory, Queensland. Definitely a wonder - but in which category it belongs?/ Wikimedia Commons by Mick Petroff, 11 August 2009, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Classification of the wonders of the world is complex issue: each wonder is amazing and unique in its own way. It is not possible to categorise them solely by their genesis, outer looks or by their use.

Wondermondo has classified the extremely diverse array of landmarks of the world in several ways:

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming, USA
Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming, USA / Ziinkova M. CC-BY-SA-3.0
  • Categories - classification by the characteristics and origin of landmarks. Currently Wondermondo divides landmarks in three large groups with 120 categories (see the table below).
  • Values - classification by the values which make the landmark unique. Wondermondo outlines nine such values (see to the left).
  • Location - classification by the geographical location of landmarks. Described in the section Countries.
  • Rank - classification by the uniqueness and popularity of landmarks. Described in the section Maps.


Each landmark has certain, unique values which define its importance for science, history, art or just make it visually impressive. Wondermondo identifies the following values of landmarks:

  • Geology - landmark provides valuable knowledge about the geological formation and history of Earth;
  • Biology - landmark provides valuable knowledge about the organisms, life in general and the history of the development of life;
  • Meteorology - landmark provides unique knowledge about the climate of Earth and/or represents unusual climatic and atmospheric phenomena;
  • Archaeology - through the findings in this landmark there has been obtained valuable knowledge about the past of humanity;
  • Architecture - landmark represents unique achievement in the design of structures;
  • History - landmark is linked to important historical events or has provided valuable historical knowledge;
  • Art - landmark contains unique artworks;
  • Visual - landmark represents exceptionally impressive or unusual sight;
  • Unexplained - landmark is captivating due to unexplained mysteries.

Table of categories

The list of the categories of world's landmarks and attractions currently includes 120 categories in 4 levels. It is not complete so far and will be updated upon the necessity.

Many landmarks of the world fit into several categories. One principle though has remained strict - every valuable monument of the world would fit at least into one of these categories.

CategoryDescriptionNo. of described landmarks
1. Geological and meteorological landmarksLandmarks created by geological, meteorological and astronomical phenomena.268
1.1. Impact cratersDetectable scars on the surface of Earth left by a body coming from the outer space. Category includes also meteorites - natural objects from the outer space.21
1.2. Places with meteorological phenomenaLocations with unusual meteorological conditions or phenomenona.19
1.3. Rock formationsVisually and / or scientifically interesting natural rock surfaces. Includes cliffs, gorges, rock stacks, natural arches, monoliths and many other kinds of rock outcrops.7
CliffsOutstanding rock surfaces, for most part - vertical or near vertical.0
Canyons and ravinesOutstanding, deep ravines with vertical or very steep cliff faces in both sides of stream.1
Natural archesNaturally formed rock arches - cliff formations with openings below them.5
Rock spiresNaturally formed tall, thin spires of rocks.2
MonolithsVery large, monolithic masses of rock which have formed unusual, visually impressive relief forms.1
BouldersVery large or otherwise unusual boulders.0
1.4. Aeolian formationsOutstanding geological formations which have been shaped by the wind.0
1.5. CavesOutstanding natural underground spaces which are large enough for human to enter.59
SinkholesOutstanding, large natural depressions or holes.51
1.6. VolcanoesMost interesting volcanoes - openings or ruptures in the Earth's crust, where hot magma and/or gases are (or were) emitted.8
1.7. Geothermal featuresLandmarks created by geothermal processes - internal heat of Earth.26
FumarolesOutstanding fumaroles - openings in the crust of Earth where gases are emitted.2
Geothermal fieldsLocations where are concentrated geothermal features - such as geysers, mud pools, fumaroles and others.13
GeysersLocations where are found hot springs which at more or less regular intervals shoot up a fountain of boiling water and steam.22
1.8. SpringsOutstanding springs - natural sites where water, other liquids and/or gases reach the surface of the Earth, including locations under water.47
Mineral springsSprings whose water contains dissolved substances and can have an altered taste and various other characteristics.2
Subaquatic springsSprings which leave the ground under water level of another waterbody (sea, larger river, lake).1
Spring tufa, travertine and other formationsLocations where springs have deposited solid sediments travertine, salt and other materials which have formed natural terraces or other interesting formations.10
Thermal springsSprings which have a significantly higher water temperature than the average yearly temperature of their respective localities.24
1.9. WaterfallsLocations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.116
Rapids and whirlpoolsVisually impressive locations, where sections of rivers have steep beds or where in the sea or rivers have formed whirlpools.1
1.10. Lakes and streamsUnusual lakes and streams.47
1.11. GlaciersUnusual glaciers.0
1.12. Rare natural materialsLocations, where are found rare minerals, rocks and other substances.6
Gemstone findsLocations, where are found stones of high value, used in adornments, mostly - in jewellery.3
1.13. Geographical extremesGeographical landmarks with extreme parameters, e.g. world's tallest cliff, windiest place.12
2. Biological landmarksLandmarks created by any of life forms on Earth except for man made landmarks.112
2.1. EcosystemsAreas with unique, uniform environmental conditions and specific communities of life.70
Animal coloniesLocations where gatherings of large number of animals are permanent or regular.8
2.2. TreesThe most impressive and interesting separate trees of the the world.43
2.3. Fossil findsLocations where are found remains or traces of life forms of outstanding value for science.6
Early human findsLocations where are found valuable remains or artefacts left by early hominins and humans.4
2.4. Biological extremesBiological landmarks with extreme parameters, e.g. world's tallest tree, northernmost forest.5
3. Man made landmarksLandmarks created by man. Major part of these landmarks are tangible (buildings, earthworks, artworks), but sites of legends form a part of intangible heritage.174
3.1. SettlementsLocations where permanently or temporary on a regular basis lives or lived a community of people and where are located scientific or art values or special visual qualities.28
Prehistoric settlementsLocations of outstanding prehistoric (before the written history) human settlements.6
Rural settlementsOutstanding smaller settlements outside urban areas.0
Industrial settlementsOutstanding settlements built for the habitation of workers near large industrial sites, e.g. mines, factories.0
Cities and townsCurrently inhabited towns, cities and parts of the cities, which represent a value from the tourist or scientific point of view.15
Ancient cities and townsAncient (here - more than 1,500 years old) towns, cities and parts of the cities, which represent a value from the tourist or scientific point of view.15
Abandoned cities and townsAbandoned towns, cities and parts of the cities, which represent a value from the tourist or scientific point of view.11
3.2. FortificationsStructures which have been built for military or civil defence.8
Defensive wallsLarge scale fortifications which were built to protect larger regions.1
City wallsWalls for the protection of cities, towns and villages.6
City gates and towersParts of city walls – outstanding gates, towers of other parts.4
Fortresses and fortsFortified buildings or groups of buildings - military installations for the protection of troops.2
PrisonsBuildings which were built with the main purpose to detain individuals inside.0
Prehistoric fortificationsOutstanding prehistoric (before the written history) fortifications.0
3.3. HousesStructures which primarily have been constructed and / or used for human habitation.0
CastlesOutstanding fortified residences, built mainly in medieval times.0
Palaces, country houses and villasAmbitious, lavishly ornate residential and administrative buildings in rural setting, often built for high ranked officials.0
Town houses, palaccoOutstanding residential buildings, built in dense urban environment for rich and/or influential families.0
Family houses, villasOutstanding, detached or semi-detached residential buildings, used by a single family.0
Multi apartment housesOutstanding urban residential buildings, which contain apartments for several families.0
Hotels and innsOutstanding buildings which have been built to provide lodging, food and drink.0
3.4. Religious architectureOutstanding structures which have been built for worship and/or which serve for religious purposes.128
Prehistoric and ancient shrinesOutstanding shrines and other sites of ancient or prehistoric religions and beliefs.16
Hindu shrinesOutstanding Hindu shrines and other sites linked to Hinduist religion.31
Judaism monumentsOutstanding sacred Jewish sites, including houses of prayer - synagogues.0
Jain shrinesOutstanding temples and other sacred sites of Jain religion.10
Buddhist shrinesOutstanding Buddhist sacred sites, including temples and monasteries.34
ChurchesOutstanding buildings where Christians gather and worship God.47
Christian monasteriesOutstanding building or complex of buildings where live, work and pray Christian monks or nuns.7
Islamic shrinesOutstanding Islamic sites, structures built for Islamic worship.10
Other contemporary shrinesOutstanding shrines and structures linked to other contemporary religions.1
Ancient pyramidsPyramid shaped buildings which were built in the ancient cultures as shrines, cult structures and burials for high-ranked officials.0
3.5. Public buildingsOutstanding structures which have been built to provide social services.3
Markets, stores and shopsOutstanding structures which were built to purchase and sell goods.0
Government and office buildingsOutstanding structures which were built to provide premises for administrative institutions.0
Hospitals and health resortsOutstanding buildings which were built for health care, diverse medical facilities and health resorts.0
Educational buildingsOutstanding buildings which were built for education institutions.0
MuseumsMost interesting and outstanding institutions which collect and explore artefacts of scientific, cultural and historical importance.3
LibrariesOutstanding buildings which were built to store collections of information sources, mainly - books.0
Operas, theatres and concert hallsOutstanding structures which were built for dramatic and musical performances.1
Observation towers and spotsOutstanding structures which were built to provide views on interesting landscape, as well as spots where landscape of special beauty and interest can be seen.0
Entertainment infrastructureOutstanding structures which were built to provide pleasure and delight to audience (except for sports, dramatic and musical performances).0
Sports infrastructureOutstanding sports infrastructure.0
3.6. Industrial and infrastructure heritageOutstanding structures which were constructed to provide technical and production services.1
Transport infrastructureOutstanding structures which were built to facilitate movement of people, animals and goods.1
   Roads and pathsMost interesting and unique parts of paths and roads - land-based transport infrastructure between two places.1
   Bridges and overpassesOutstanding structures which were built to provide overpass over physical obstacles - water, other roads, valleys etc.0
   TunnelsOutstanding structures which were built to provide ounderpass under physical obstacles - mountains, water, dense cities, other roads etc.0
   CanalsOutstanding man-made water channels, built for water transport.0
   RailwaysMost interesting and unique sections of railways - ways with rails.0
   Transport stations and depotsOutstanding buildings built to provide necessary premises for transport services, such as railway stations and airports, railway depots.0
   LighthousesOutstanding structures which were built to assist the navigation of maritime or inland water transport, mainly by emiting the light.0
   Spacecraft infrastructureInfrastructure built to provide the launch of spacecraft.0
Telecommunication structuresOutstanding structures which have been built for the provision of telecommunication.0
Energy production infrastructureOutstanding structures which have been built for the production of energy.0
   WindmillsOutstanding windmills and other structures for harnessing of wind power.0
   Hydropower plants and damsOutstanding watermills and other structures for harnessing of water power.0
Water supply structuresOutstanding structures for extraction and supply of water.0
Agricultural infrastructureOutstanding structures and man-made landscape elements developed for the purpose of cultivation of animals, plants, fungi.0
   Agricultural terracesOutstanding man-made step-like landscape elements shaped in order to adjust steep terrain for the needs of agriculture.0
   Irrigation systemsOutstanding water supply systems for the watering of agricultural areas.0
Mines and pitsMan made excavations which have been made to obtain valuable materials from the ground.0
Factories and warehousesOutstanding buildings which were built to provide premises for industrial production and storage of goods.0
Scientific infrastructureOutstanding structures built to provide premises and other facilities for scientific experiments and scientific research.0
   Astronomical research stationsOutstanding structures built to provide facilities for astronomical research.0
3.7. Parks and gardensLocations where plants have been planted according to plan to provide enjoyment and also for scientific research of plant communities.0
3.8. Monuments and memorialsMost interesting structures which have been built to commemorate some person (including mythological persons) or event.2
Ancient and prehistoric monuments and memorialsOutstanding structures which have been built before the Middle Age to commemorate some person (including mythological persons) or event.2
3.9. CemeteriesMost interesting locations where the remains of deceased people have been interred.9
Prehistoric and ancient cemeteriesMost interesting locations where the remains of deceased people have been interred before the Middle Age.9
3.10. Cairns and moundsMan made piles of rocks or heaps of earth or debris. Most of these landmarks are archaeological monuments.1
3.11. Petroglyphs and rock artMostly prehistoric man made art on natural materials - mostly on rock surfaces and stones, but sometimes also on living trees.32
Geoglyphs and alignmentsLarge figures which have been drawn or otherwise formed on flat ground or hill slopes.0
Prehistoric cave and rock paintingsPaintings made by prehistoric man and preserved up to this day.20
Prehistoric and ancient inscriptionsInscriptions made by prehistoric and ancient man and preserved up to this day. Includes runestones.9
3.12. Rock cut architecture and sculpturesOutstanding rock cut architecture and large rock cut sculptures. In order to be included in this category landmarks should be made of single piece of natural stone without moving this material from its original place.58
Sculptures and reliefs from live rockSculptures and reliefs hewn out of live rock.4
Rock cut tombs and catatombsMan-made excavations which have been made with the purpose to secure long lasting abode for the deceased.0
Rock cut temples and monasteriesMan made underground worship sites, built to facilitate religious contemplation. Most magnificent form of rock cut architecture.51
3.13. MegalithsStructures made of large stones by ancient cultures, without any mortar or cement. In general this does not include structures built by developed and well expressed cultures like the Romans or Maya but rather the more ancient cultures.24
3.14. Sites of legendsFolktales which are grounded historically and geographically.24
Hidden treasurePlaces where according to diffferent information sources are hidden significant material and/ or cultural values.1
Ghost sitesPlaces where according to different information sources repeatedly are observed paranormal phenomena, such as apparitions of undead.4
Places with cryptozoological phenomenaPlaces where on a regular basis can be observed cryptozoological phenomena.4
3.15. Man made extremesMan made landmarks with extreme parameters, e.g. world's tallest building, oldest city.1

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