Chichen Itza is wonderful, but should it be a new 7 wonder of the world?

Being based in Playa del Carmen has been ideal for visiting the highlights of the Yucatan Peninsula. One sight that has been high on my visit list is Chichen Itza. Not counting Luxor Las Vegas or the Louvre Pyramid, this was the first time I have seen a pyramid.

The Chichen Itza archaeological site contains numerous ruins built by the Maya civilization around 1000 years ago. The central building of the site is the remarkable Kukulcán Pyramid, or El Castillo (The Castle).

James at the Kukulcán Pyramid - Chichen Itza
[My first pyramid – the Kukulcán Pyramid at Chichen Itza]

Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2007 it was voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

New 7 Wonders of the World
[New 7 Wonders of the World]

After visiting Chihen Itza a reader asked me what my favourite temple in the world is, and without hesitation I said Borobudur in Java. This got me thinking, why is Chichen Itza a wonder over Borobudur? Nothing against Chichen Itza, as it really is wonderful and worth the visit, but Borobudur is a far superior monument. Borobudur is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, yet it remains relatively unknowm. The temple features intricate carvings on most of its exterior and it is crowned with 72 stupas containing a Buddha image. And unlike Chichen Itza, you can walk on Borobudur.

Borobudur Buddha
[Borobudur – The biggest Buddhist temple in the world]

I had a look at the list of New 7 Wonders finalists and I was gobsmacked to see that Borobudur wasn’t even on the short list. The New 7 Wonders was selected by a global poll, which gave it about as much credibility as the Eurovision voting system. Indonesia is terrible at promoting its own wonders outside of Bali, and it seems that the 230 Million Indonesians weren’t as organized to vote as the 110 million Mexicans. I remember when this poll came out in 2007. I can’t remember if I voted, but if I did I probably voted for the Sydney Opera House out of patriotic duty.

So, do you agree that Chichen Itza – or any of the other winners – should be on the list?

Join The Newsletter

Sign up to the weekly newsletter for the latest posts, and a roundup of best travel reads, news, and lifestyle articles.


  1. You know the more I look at it the more that list isn’t all that good. My kicker though is CTR, it’s an 80 year old cement statue for Christs sake (pun intended). It’s hardly an engineering or cultural achievement on the scale of the Pyramids, Great Wall or Angkor. Obviously the predominantly Christian countries who would have made up the bulk of the votes had its effect.

  2. I’ve only seen two of these in person, the Taj and Machu Picchu. Those definitely deserve to be on the list. I’m a bit baffled at CTR being on the list considering the (lack of) age/history but maybe I’ll feel differently if I saw it in person.

    I’m surprised Angkor Wat isn’t on the top 7, but then again their Internet access is one of the worst in the world. Most people voting probably vote for what they know or as you said are most patriotic to, and I bet most people who voted haven’t had the opportunity to see more than 1 or 2 of the wonders on the voting list.


    • I have not seen Machu Picchu so I can’t comment on its wonderfulness. You bring up an important point though, that most people voting would have been lucky to see 1 or 2 of the wonders.

  3. I don’t think Christ the Redeemer should be on the list either to be honest!

  4. I’ve seen in person Chichen Itzá, Palenque and Tulum. Also Machu Pichu .Those definetely deserve to be on de list.
    I’ve seen the Cristo Redentor and agree with Dan, It’s an 80 years old cement statue that hardly can be considered a cultural achievement on the scale of the Pyramids, or the Andes Mummys.

  5. Erik Blair says

    I’d take them all off the list and start over! The ones we couldn’t recreate using modern technology remain.

  6. I have to agree with you James – I did love visiting Chichen Itza, it’s neat and has some really amazing features, but I wasn’t ever quite sure it should be on the New 7 Wonders List…perhaps the people voting haven’t seen some of the places we’ve been to! (and that is me sounding like a travel snob, but it’s true!) 🙂

    • Nothing snobby about that Shannon. It’s a bit ridiculous to be a judge of something you haven’t seen. It’s like reading a Tripadvisor review when someone says “this the best hotel I have ever stayed at in {insert city here}” when it also happens to the the only hotel they have stayed at in that town. Leave this list to the experts who have seen them all (which doesn’t include me).

  7. unfortunately i haven’t seen any of the new or old seven wonders of the world. from what you’re saying though, i think the Buddhist temple has more appeal because you can walk on it. i have been to the sydney opera house though, and it was pretty awesome.

  8. I agree with several of those chosen, but I wouldn’t have voted for Chichen Itza. In all fairness, though I’ve been to that area of Mexico many times – I have never been there. I’d base that on the photographs I’ve seen not being very impressive to me. If you’re going to put any pyramids on any list I’d choose the ones in Egypt. 

    • “If you’re going to put any pyramids on any list I’d choose the ones in Egypt”- that is excellent logic in narrowing down the list.

      • A valid point. It was the broadest of statements. In fairness, I haven’t been to Egypt either 🙁 I was going on the fact that for me, when I hear the word “pyramid” my very first thought is Giza. It has been that way as long as I can remember. Crap logic though in forming the list, so that’s probably why I never voted in the first place. Until I have been everywhere and have seen it all, I cannot say with certainty what the 7 (or 14) greatest wonders of the world are!

        • There is nothing special in Giza in my opinion, just 3 pyramids next to each other and sand … lot of sand … but I’ve been to like 15 different pyramid sites all over Mexico and they are MUCH nicer, each one of them is different and served for different things and there are monkeys living … but nothing around Giza.

  9. I think CTR indicates how many Brazilians are online with a twitchy click finger. As for Chichen Itza, are we talking just El Castillo or the entire site? The astronomical aspects of Chichen Itza and the building of a pyramid are pretty techy stuff. While Borobudur is really big, I think the perfection of that Maya pyramid, plus the fact that this is a temple built over another temple like a Russian doll, trumps it. Angkor Wat has mystique for sure, but no more than Bagan if you take away creepy tree roots on surrounding temples. I’d axe the Colosseum too. I’d add Sancta Sophia in Istanbul. 

    • I had considered the astronomical aspect, so how about this – if the world really does end in 2012 I will say, hey those Mayans were were pretty smart, I’ll vote Chichen Itza as a new 7 wonder 🙂

      • I don’t understand why the end of the Maya world is all around now as they NEVER said the world was going to end. I studied Maya culture at the university and it is just the end of one era, the fifth Sun, then the 6th starts … No end of the world. Just everyone is trying to scare people, bullshit!

      • yeah so that failed …. i think they just decided they could make more later if needed the fact they took as far as it went was great

  10. This is the problem with lists like this, no matter what’s included someone will think another monument/place was overlooked. I liked Chichen Itza but I can’t say whether it should or shouldn’t be on a list of only 7 Wonders of the World. There’s so many amazing places I think the list should include more places. 

  11. There should be definitely more than 7 new wonders of the world, I think. But I did love Chichen Itza a lot, especially when I know all the details about its construction.

  12. Yang_youlee says

    I agree with you James, that Indonesia is terrible to promte their own wonder 🙁 Borobudur is the biggest temple in the world and all as you walk you can see the relief that tell you a story about Historical of Buddha..

  13. I VOTED BOROBUDUR RATHER THAN Chichen Itza (rather boring), because Borobudur’s details very fine, on the top of that very massive construction ever build in that era its over 1200 years .
    This temple which has got approximately 504 Buddha statues, 2.672 reliefs, and 123 x 123 metres extensive area, was built without CEMENT and made of big STONE BLOCKS were used.
    The Borobudur temple was built in the 9th century while Sailendra Dynasty had got glorious authority, and listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is also declared as the most settled Buddhist reliefs among all Buddhist temple in the world, and even though the temple had been buried by volcanic ash (VERY ACIDIC IMAGINE MADE OUT OF CEMENT?), it is still stay strong.


Speak Your Mind