Categories of wonders

Currently, the wonders of the world in Wondermondo are divided into 124 categories: see the large list below. This huge number is divided into four realms:

WorldBlue The list of all categories of wonders

Many world’s wonders fit into several categories. Nevertheless, one principle is strict – every wonder of the world would fit at least into one of these categories.

Geological wonders

These wonders have been created by geological, meteorological, and astronomical phenomena.

Angel Falls, Venezuela
Angel Falls / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Aeolian formations – These wonders have been created by any of the life forms on Earth except for man.
  • Caves – Natural underground spaces that are large enough for a human to enter.
    • Sinkholes – Impressive, large natural depressions or holes.
  • Geographical extremes – Geographical landmarks with extreme parameters, e.g. world’s tallest cliff, windiest place.
  • Geothermal features – Wonders that have been created by the geothermal processes – internal heat of Earth.
    • Fumaroles – Outstanding fumaroles – openings in the ground where natural gases are emitted.
    • Geothermal fields – Locations where are concentrated geothermal features – such as geysers, mud pools, fumaroles, and others.
    • Geysers – Locations where are found hot springs that at more or less regular intervals shoot up a fountain of boiling water and steam.
  • Glaciers – Diverse unusual glaciers.
  • Impact craters – Detectable scars on the surface of Earth left by a body coming from outer space. The category includes also meteorites – natural objects from outer space.
  • Lakes and streams – Unusual lakes and streams.
  • Places with meteorological phenomena – Locations with unusual meteorological conditions or phenomena.
  • Rare natural materials – Locations, where are found rare minerals, rocks, and other substances.
    • Gemstone finds – Locations, where are found stones of high value, used in adornments, mostly – in jewelry.
    Chocolate Hills
    Chocolate Hills / Jazela, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Rock formations – Visually and/or scientifically interesting natural rock surfaces. Includes cliffs, gorges, rock stacks, natural arches, monoliths, and many other kinds of rock outcrops.
    • Balancing rocks – Boulders or other rock formations that
      rest on other rocks and often seem to be balancing.
    • Boulders – Very large or otherwise unusual boulders.
    • Canyons and ravines – Outstanding, deep ravines with vertical or very steep cliff faces on both sides of the stream.
    • Cliffs – Outstanding rock surfaces, for the most part – vertical or near-vertical.
    • Karst landscapes – Outstanding relief forms that have formed by the dissolution of limestone, dolostone, gypsum.
    • Monoliths or inselbergs and bornhardts – Very large, monolithic masses of rock that have formed unusual, visually impressive relief forms.
    • Natural arches – Naturally formed rock arches – cliff formations with openings below them.
    • Rock spires – Naturally formed tall, thin spires of rocks.
  • Springs – Outstanding natural sites where water, other liquids, and/or gases reach the surface of the Earth, including locations underwater.
    • Mineral springs – Springs whose water contains dissolved substances and can have an altered taste and various other characteristics.
    • Spring tufa, travertine, and other formations – Locations where springs have deposited solid sediments travertine, salt, and other materials that have formed natural terraces or other interesting formations.
    • Subaquatic springs – Springs that leave the ground under the water level of another waterbody (sea, larger river, lake).
    • Thermal springs – Springs that have a significantly higher water temperature than the average yearly temperature of their respective localities.

Biological wonders

These wonders have been created by any of life forms on Earth except for man.

King penguins at St. Andrews Bay
King penguins at St. Andrews Bay / sheilapic76, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Biological extremes – Biological landmarks with extreme parameters, e.g. world’s tallest tree, northernmost forest.
  • Ecosystems – Areas with unique, uniform environmental conditions and specific communities of life.
    • Animal colonies – Locations where gatherings of a large number of animals are permanent or regular.
  • Fossil finds – Places where are found remains or traces of life forms of outstanding value for science.
    • Early human finds – Locations where are found valuable remains or artifacts left by early hominins and humans.
  • Trees – The most impressive and interesting separate trees in the world.

Man-made wonders

Wonders of the that were created by man. A major part of these places is tangible (buildings, earthworks, artworks), but sites of legends form a part of intangible heritage.

Ávila city walls
Ávila city walls / Pelayo2, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-2.0.
  • Cairns and mounds – Man-made piles of rocks or heaps of earth or debris. Most of these sites are archaeological monuments.
  • Cemeteries – The most interesting locations where the remains of deceased people have been interred.
    • Prehistoric and ancient cemeteries – The most interesting locations where the remains of deceased people have been interred before the Middle Ages.
  • Fortifications – Structures that have been built for military or civil defense.
    • City gates and towers – Parts of city walls – outstanding gates, towers of other parts.
    • City walls – Walls for the protection of cities, towns, and villages.
    • Defensive walls – Large scale fortifications that were built to protect larger regions.
    • Fortresses and forts – Fortified buildings or groups of buildings – military installations for the protection of troops.
    • Prehistoric fortifications – Outstanding prehistoric (before the written history) fortifications.
    • Prisons – Unusual sites and buildings that have been used to detain individuals inside.
  • Houses – Structures that primarily have been constructed and/or used for human habitation.
    • Castles – Outstanding fortified residences, built mainly in medieval times.
    • Family houses, villas – Outstanding, detached or semi-detached residential buildings, used by a single family.
    • Multi-apartment houses – Outstanding residential buildings, that contain apartments for several families.
    • Palaces, country houses, and villas – Outstanding residential buildings, built for rich and/or influential families.
  • Banaue rice terraces, Philippines
    Banaue rice terraces / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Industrial and infrastructure heritage – Structures that were constructed to provide technical and production services.
    • Agricultural infrastructure – Structures and man-made landscape elements developed for the purpose of cultivation of animals, plants, fungi.
      • Agricultural terraces – Man-made step-like landscape elements shaped in order to adjust steep terrain for the needs of agriculture.
      • Irrigation systems – Water supply systems for the watering of agricultural areas.
    • Energy production infrastructure – Structures that have been built for the production of energy.
      • Hydropower plants and dams – Watermills and other structures for harnessing of water power.
      • Windmills – Windmills and other structures for harnessing wind power.
    • Factories and warehouses – Buildings that were built to provide premises for industrial production and storage of goods.
    • Mines and pits – Man-made excavations that have been made to obtain valuable materials from the ground.
    • Scientific infrastructure – Structures built to provide premises and other facilities for scientific experiments and scientific research.
      • Astronomical research stations – Structures built to provide facilities for astronomical research.
    • Telecommunication structures – Structures that have been built for the provision of telecommunications.
    • Water supply infrastructure – Structures for extraction and supply of water.
  • Man-made extremes – Man-made landmarks of the world with extreme parameters, e.g. world’s tallest building, oldest city.
  • Ahu Tongariki - megaliths in Rapa Nui
    Ahu Tongariki – megaliths in Rapa Nui / Rivi, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
  • Megaliths – Structures 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.
  • Military testing sites – Places where the testing of weapons has left impressive and/or unusual changes.
  • Monuments and memorials – The most interesting structures that have been built to commemorate some person (including mythological persons) or event.
    • Ancient and prehistoric monuments and memorials – Structures that have been built before the Middle Ages to commemorate some person (including mythological persons) or event.
  • Parks and gardens – Locations where plants have been planted according to plan to provide enjoyment and also for scientific research of plant communities.
  • Petroglyphs and rock art – Mostly prehistoric man-made art on natural materials – mostly on rock surfaces and stones, but sometimes also on living trees.
    • Geoglyphs and alignments – Large figures that have been drawn or otherwise formed on flat ground or hill slopes.
    • Prehistoric and ancient inscriptions – Inscriptions made by prehistoric and ancient man and preserved up to this day. Includes runestones.
    • Prehistoric cave and rock paintings – Paintings made by prehistoric man and preserved up to this day.
  • Public buildings – Outstanding structures that have been built to provide services for society.
    • Educational buildings – Buildings that were built for education institutions.
    • Entertainment infrastructure – Structures that were built to provide pleasure and delight to the audience (except for sports, dramatic and musical performances).
    • Government and office buildings – Structures that were built to provide premises for administrative institutions.
    • Hospitals and health resorts – Buildings that were built for health care, diverse medical facilities, and health resorts.
    • Hotels and inns – Outstanding buildings that have been built to provide lodging, food, and drink.
    • Libraries – Buildings that were built to store collections of information sources, mainly – books.
    • Markets, stores, and shops – Structures that were built to purchase and sell goods.
    • Museums – Most interesting and outstanding institutions that collect and explore artifacts of scientific, cultural, and historical importance.
    • Observation towers and spots – Structures that were built to provide views on the interesting landscapes, as well as spots where a landscape of special beauty and interest can be seen.
    • Operas, theatres, and concert halls – Structures that were built for dramatic and musical performances.
    • Sports infrastructure – The most impressive structures built for sports.
  • Five central towers of Angkor Wat
    Five central towers of Angkor Wat / Dennis Jarvis, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Religious architecture – Outstanding structures that were built for worship and/or that serve for religious purposes.
    • Ancient pyramids – Pyramid-shaped buildings that were built in the ancient cultures as shrines, cult structures, and burials for high-ranked officials.
    • Buddhist shrines – Buddhist sacred sites, including temples and monasteries.
    • Christian monasteries – Building or complex of buildings where live, work, and pray Christian monks or nuns.
    • Churches – Buildings where Christians gather and worship God.
    • Hindu shrines – Hindu shrines and other sites linked to Hinduist religion.
    • Islamic shrines – Islamic sites, structures built for Islamic worship.
    • Jain shrines – Temples and other sacred sites of Jain religion.
    • Judaism monuments – Sacred Jewish sites, including houses of prayer – synagogues.
    • Other contemporary shrines – Shrines and structures linked to other contemporary religions.
    • Prehistoric and ancient shrines – Shrines and other sites of ancient or prehistoric religions and beliefs.
  • Rock-cut architecture and sculptures – Outstanding rock-cut architecture and large rock-cut sculptures. In order to be included in this category, structures should be made of a single piece of natural stone without moving this material from its original place.
    • Rock cut temples and monasteries – Man-made underground worship sites, built to facilitate religious contemplation. The most magnificent form of rock-cut architecture.
    • Rock-cut tombs and catacombs – Man-made excavations that have been made with the purpose to secure long-lasting abode for the deceased.
    • Sculptures and reliefs from live rock – Sculptures and reliefs that are carved in live rock.
  • Settlements – Locations where permanently or temporary lives or lived a community of people and where are located scientific or art values or special visual qualities.
    • Abandoned cities and towns – Abandoned towns, cities, and parts of the cities, that represent a value from the tourist or scientific point of view.
    • Ancient cities and towns – Ancient (here – more than 1,500 years old) towns, cities, and parts of the cities, that represent a value from the tourist or scientific point of view.
    • Cities and towns – Currently inhabited towns, cities, and parts of the cities, that represent a value from the tourist or scientific point of view.
    • Industrial settlements – Outstanding settlements built for the habitation of workers near large industrial sites, e.g. mines, factories.
    • Prehistoric settlements – Locations of outstanding prehistoric (before the written history) human settlements.
    • Rural settlements – Outstanding smaller settlements outside urban areas.
  • Sites of legends – Folktales that are grounded historically and geographically.
    • Ghost sites – Places where according to different information sources repeatedly are observed paranormal phenomena, such as apparitions of the undead.
    • Hidden treasure – Places where according to different information sources are hidden significant material and/ or cultural values.
    • Places with cryptozoological phenomena – Places where on a regular basis can be observed cryptozoological phenomena – apparitions of legendary animals that are considered to be nonexistent.
  • Transport infrastructure – Outstanding structures that were built to facilitate the movement of people, animals, and goods.
    • Bridges and overpasses – Structures that were built to provide overpass over physical obstacles – water, other roads, valleys, etc.
    • Canals – Man-made water channels, built for water transport.
    • Lighthouses – Structures that were built to assist the navigation of maritime or inland water transport, mainly by light.
    • Railways – The most interesting and unique sections of railways – ways with rails.
    • Roads and paths – The most interesting and unique parts of paths and roads – land-based transport infrastructure between two places.
    • Spacecraft infrastructure – Infrastructure that was built to provide the launch of spacecraft.
    • Transport stations and depots – Buildings built to provide necessary premises for transport services, such as railway stations and airports, railway depots.
    • Tunnels – Structures that were built to provide underpass under physical obstacles – mountains, water, dense cities, other roads, etc.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Natural Wonders of the World

Discover Earth’s most beautiful and fascinating natural landmarks. From the spectacular granite domes of Yosemite to the reefs of the Bahama Banks and the ice sheets of the Antarctic, this is an unparalleled survey of the world’s natural treasures.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders

It’s time to get off the beaten path. Inspiring equal parts of wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscura celebrates over 700 of the strangest and most curious landmarks of the world.

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