Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.
Our World: Filled with Marvelous Landmarks
Many of you have probably had the opportunity to travel and see some really cool landmarks. Maybe some of you have seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or perhaps Niagara Falls along the U.S.-Canada border. Landmarks are all around us, and are popular tourist attractions. Beyond the borders of the United States are all manner of marvelous landmarks. Our world is filled with them: structures like the Eiffel Tower and the pyramids, and natural wonders like Victoria Falls and Mount Everest.
Before we examine popular international landmarks, it is important that we understand exactly what a landmark is. The term is a little subjective, but in essence a landmark is a natural or artificial structure that stands out from the existing landscape. Landmarks are awe-inspiring. When you see a landmark, it is obvious it is something special.
Let's learn about some of the world's most popular landmarks. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but we'll try to hit some of the big ones. We'll examine these geographically, more or less continent by continent. Hang on, we're about to take a trip around the world!
Niagara Falls is located along the U.S.-Canada border. It is actually the name for three separate waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. These are mighty waterfalls along the Niagara River waterway. Tourists to the falls are able to board the boat Maid of the Mist and travel near the powerful falls. If you ever do this, prepare to get a little wet! Niagara Falls is also an important source of hydroelectric energy for the region.
Located in Peru, South America, Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca city built into a mountain ridge. The Incas were a group of people indigenous to South America. It is believed Machu Picchu was built in the mid-15th century, but it was abandoned as the Spanish began their conquest of Inca territory. Machu Picchu contains around 200 stone structures, including private dwellings, temples, and civic buildings. Because the city is built into a mountain, it is laid out in ''steps'', which some areas are higher and lower than others. Machu Picchu is a breathtaking landmark that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists a year.
One of Europe's most famous landmarks is the Eiffel Tower, completed in 1889 in Paris, France. It is named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, and it was originally built for the 1889 World's Fair. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most-visited sites in the entire world. In 2015, nearly 7 million people ascended it. It has become a icon of France and a popular spot for marriage proposals. The tower is equivalent to 81 stories.
Rome is home to many ancient structures, but one of the most recognizable is the Colosseum, which was completed in A.D. 80 under Emperor Vespasian. The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests, sporting events, battle reenactments, and civic functions. It was capable of holding 80,000 people.
Europe is home to many, many other landmarks which we don't have time to discuss. Among them are the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany; the Big Ben Clock Tower in London; and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.
Asia, Africa, and Australia
Probably the most famous landmark in Asia is the Great Wall of China, which was constructed by the Chinese over thousands of years. Some of the sections of the wall date back to the 7th century B.C. The wall was constructed along China's northern border mainly for defensive purposes. Remember, it wasn't simply built all at once. Instead, over the centuries it was improved on and added to, thus making it more impressive as time went by. Sections of the wall are thick enough to drive a car on top of.
The Giza Pyramid Complex is another of the world's most popular tourist attractions. These pyramids and the nearby Great Sphinx are located on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt in Africa. Many of the structures were built as burial places to honor ancient Egyptian pharaohs. The Great Pyramids are one of the earliest large structures, dating back to around 2500 B.C. These impressive monuments continue to baffle experts: how exactly did the ancient Egyptians construct such impressive structures without modern technology?
Victoria Falls along the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa is another popular African landmark. Victoria Falls is nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls. It is a truly awesome system of waterfalls.
The Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House are popular landmarks in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, and home to all kinds of exotic sea life. The Sydney Opera House in the capital city of Sydney was completed in 1973 and is known for its shell-like architectural design.
Hopefully in your lifetime, many of you will have the opportunity to visit some of these cool international landmarks. Now let's review.
- Niagara Falls is located along the U.S.-Canada border, and is actually the name for three separate waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.
- Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca city built into a mountain ridge in Peru, South America.
- The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889 in Paris, France. It is named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, and was originally built for the 1889 World's Fair.
- The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, was completed in A.D. 80 under Emperor Vespasian. The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests, sporting events, battle reenactments, and civic functions.
- The Great Wall of China was constructed by the Chinese over thousands of years. Some of the sections of the wall date back to the 7th century B.C.
- The Giza Pyramid Complex and the nearby Great Sphinx are located on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt in Africa.
- The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia was completed in 1973 and is known for its shell-like architectural design.
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