Wonders of the world in pictures
It’s a wonderful world. And these fascinating images show exactly why.
They appear in a new book called Wonders of the World by Claudia Martin, which showcases breathtaking phenomena by Mother Nature and incredible structures rustled up by the human race, from ancient times to the present day.
The 200 mesmerising photographs featured in the tome include snaps of the city of Petra and Rome’s Colosseum and modern-day engineering marvels such as Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah island and the magnificent Millau Viaduct. Plus natural jaw-droppers such as Venezuela’s Angel Falls and Australia’s Hanging Rock.
Martin says: ‘From waterfalls to deserts, from bridges to opera houses, from natural fires that never stop burning to the Earth’s largest man-made holes, the book explains the fascinating stories about extraordinary places, both famous and little-known.’
At 19,341ft, dormant volcano Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is Africa’s highest mountain. Despite its location close to the equator, the mountain’s peak is covered by an ice cap, which has shrunk by 85 per cent since 1912. If global warming continues at the current rate, the ice will be gone by 2060. Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones, the tallest being Kibo. The other two, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct.
With a straight drop of 2,648ft, Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. A second drop, rapids and a sloped cascade brings the falls’ total height to 3,211ft. The waterfall plummets from Auyán Tepui, a tabletop mountain in the Guiana Highlands. Tepuis are isolated ecological islands known for their endemic plant and animal species, like the Galápagos Islands. Auyán Tepui hosts 25 endemic species of amphibians and reptiles alone.
Los Cuernos (The Horns) are all higher than 6,560ft. They are in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, which lies in an eastern spur of the Andes Mountains and encompasses glaciers, rivers, lakes and habitats from Magellanic sub-polar forest and Patagonian steppe to Andean desert.
This Colosseum in Rome was the largest ever built, with room for 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. Construction began on the orders of the Emperor Vespasian in 82 AD, and was continued by his two sons, the emperors Titus and Domitian. The building was used for dramatic public spectacles, including gladiator fights, mock sea battles, animal hunts and executions. The hypogeum (below-ground areas) added by Domitian consisted of tunnels, cages and storerooms for gladiators, animals and scenery.
Meteora (from the Greek for ‘lofty’), pictured left, is the name for a group of eroded sandstone columns that rise precipitously from the Plain of Thessaly in Greece. During the 11th to 16th centuries, a total of 24 monasteries were built on the columns, of which six remain. Access to the monasteries was deliberately difficult: monks, pilgrims and supplies had to be hoisted up in nets in a process that truly demanded deep faith in God.
Victoria Falls is a 355ft high waterfall on the Zambezi River on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe and is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (‘The Smoke that Thunders’) in the local Lozi language. The Scottish explorer David Livingstone, probably the first European to view the falls, gave the feature its English name in honour of his queen. The falls are neither the highest nor the widest in the world, but they do form the largest sheet of falling water
Situated in the mountainous limestone and dolomite karst landscape of central Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park protects 16 interconnected lakes, separated by natural dams made of travertine. Brown bears, wolves, lynxes and wild cats can be found in the surrounding forest
Diamond Head is a volcanic cone formed by an eruption of the Ko’olau Volcano about 400,000–500,000 years ago. Ko’olau is one of the 17 major volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands and formed over a hotspot in the mantle under the Pacific Plate. The movement of the plate created a long volcanic chain, starting in Hawaii and ending at the Aleutian Trench
The sandstone spire of Hanging Rock juts precariously over the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Different species of eucalyptus dominate the valley, from Eucalyptus sieberi above 800m (2,600ft) to Eucalyptus oblonga at lower altitudes. The Grose River is known for its platypuses, which are the animal emblem of New South Wales
The tallest bridge in the world, with a height of 1,125ft, the Millau Viaduct in France was designed by English architect Norman Foster and French engineer Michel Virlogeux. The bridge deck is supported by steel cables that stretch from seven masts, each topping a concrete pylon
Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) was actually built as a mausoleum for the Nabatean king Aretas IV (9BC – AD40) at Petra in Jordan. Although the exterior statues have been much eroded by wind and rain, visitors can still see mythological figures connected with the afterlife, including four eagles to carry away the souls of the dead
Geiranger is a nine-mile branch of the vast Storfjorden (Great Fjord). Its steep cliffs are typical of the nearly 1,200 fjords along Norway’s coast. These U-shaped valleys were carved by glaciers then flooded by the sea
The old city of Jeddah, known as Al-Balad (The Town), was founded in the 7th century in Saudi Arabia. It preserves a Red Sea architectural tradition, with many tower houses built of coral stone and teak, decorated by traditional wooden window screens called roshan
Visible only from above, the ‘underwater waterfall’ in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is actually an optical illusion. The island sits on a large oceanic shelf, no deeper than 150m (490ft) below sea level. At the shelf’s edge there is a drop-off point where the seabed suddenly plunges. However, it is not the water itself that we can see falling off this cliff: it is sand from Mauritius’s beaches being forced over the ledge by ocean currents
Geologists are not all in agreement, but it is likely that this Devil’s Tower in Wyoming formed around 40 million years ago when magma cooled inside the vent of a volcano, creating a plug of phonolite. The softer rock surrounding the phonolite was eroded away. The butte is the subject of many Native American myths, with the English name for the site a mistranslation dating back to 1875
According to legend, Ha Long, which means ‘descending dragon’ in Vietnamese, was created by a family of dragons sent to protect Vietnam from invaders. The dragons spat out jewels, which turned into the rocks and islands forming Ha Long Bay, wrecking the invaders’ ships. The geological explanation for the islands’ formation is that they are the eroded remains of a limestone deposit
Work on the construction of the world’s largest artificial island began in 2001 and lasted six years. Palm Jumeirah is in the shape of a palm tree, with a surrounding crescent-shaped island that acts as a breakwater. The development, which is connected to the mainland of Dubai by monorail, hosts 28 hotels and 4,500 residential properties
The largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur in Indonesia, was built in the 9th century. It consists of six stacked square platforms, topped by three circular ones. Pilgrims to the temple ascend a path through three realms: Kamadhatu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness), the story told through 1,460 relief panels
The Potala Palace in Tibet was home to the Dalai Lama until the current Dalai Lama, the 14th, fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan Uprising. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Work on the palace was begun in 1645 by the fifth Dalai Lama. Poised on the Marpo Ri (‘Red Hill’), the complex has 13 storeys, more than 1,000 rooms and around 10,000 shrines
The city of Petra, in the desert of southern Jordan, was carved from sandstone cliffs about 2,000 years ago by the Nabateans. At its peak, the city was a major trading hub, at the centre of several overland trade routes, and home to 20,000 people
All images taken from the book Wonders of the World by Claudia Martin, published by Amber Books Ltd and available from bookshops and online booksellers (RRP £19.99). Pictured is Machu Picchu in Peru