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Top 10 Underappreciated Wonders of the World

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Because it doesn't have to be an official 'Wonder of the World' to leave you lost for words! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Underappreciated Wonders of the World! For this list, we’ve looked at those places on our planet that perhaps don’t receive the coverage that they deserve. The seven Ancient Wonders ofthe World and the New7 Wonders are not included because, as incredible as they undoubtedly are, we feel they have enough recognition already! Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Because it doesn’t have to be an official ‘Wonder of the World’ to leave you lost for words! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 underappreciated wonders of the world!



For this list, we’ve looked at those places on our planet that perhaps don’t receive the coverage that they deserve. The seven Ancient Wonders of the World and the New7 Wonders are not included because, as incredible as they undoubtedly are, we feel they have enough recognition already!



#10: Chartres Cathedral

France

A definite high point of French Gothic art and architecture, Chartres Cathedral is often overlooked, usually in favor of Paris’ more immediately famous Notre Dame. However, Chartres is an almost perfectly preserved example of its era. It boasts pristine stained glass, two complementary spires on its west end, and general architectural features that are largely unchanged since the early thirteenth century. It genuinely is the genuine article! Speaking of ‘genuine articles’, Chartres also houses the Sancta Camisa relic, which legend has it was clothing worn by the Virgin Mary when Christ was born!



#9: Angkor Wat

Cambodia

Often cited as the most significant place never to have received ‘Wonder of the World’ classification, Angkor Wat is one of our planet’s largest religious monuments. It’s also enormously popular, attracting more than two million tourists every year! A temple complex rather than one lone structure, it was built in the 12th century as a place for Hindu worship. By the end of the century, it was converted to Buddhist uses. One of the first Western visitors to Angkor Wat, António da Madalena, wrote, “it is like no other building in the world”… And he was right!



#8: Ajanta Caves

India

Considered one of the earliest examples of Buddhist art and architecture anywhere in the world, the Ajanta Caves deserve to be a big deal! By most estimates, many of the carvings date back as early as the second century BC. The caves are situated within dense jungle and were rediscovered in 1819 largely by accident, by a British officer while on a hunt. Described by the Archaeological Survey of India as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art,” the caves’ insides offer ancient depictions of Buddhist teachings and figures of the Buddha himself.



#7: Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sri Lanka

Also known as the Lion Rock of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is the country’s most visited historic site and a truly unique attraction. When King Kashyapa seized the throne, he made Sigiriya his new capital and fortress. The gigantic rock formation was decorated with distinctive artwork as well as a gateway adorned with a lion – thus the name Lion Rock. After Kashyapa’s death in 495 AD, the site became a Buddhist monastery and fulfilled this function until the 14th century. And now, it’s an archaeological melting pot, a geological peculiarity that offers a “once in a lifetime” panoramic view!



#6: Wave Rock

Australia

Name a world famous rock located in Australia. Most would only ever have one answer - Ayers Rock, otherwise known as Uluru! However, if you ever are Down Under, you could head to Perth, take a three/four-hour tour out to Hyden, and have yourself a geological experience that’s a little less mainstream! This rock, so named for obvious appearance-related reasons, is some 2.7 billion years in the making! Contrary to logical belief, the best waves in Australia aren’t always found on the coast!



#5: Ancient City of Bagan

Myanmar [Burma]

The capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, at its height Bagan was home to over 10,000 religious temples. Now those numbers have dwindled… But still there remain an unprecedented 2,200+ monuments, pagodas, temples and buildings within the city, scattered across 100 square kilometres! It was once an international center for alchemy, astrology, philosophy and medicine and, though it no longer thrives as in yesteryear, it remains one of the most magical places on Earth!



#4: Metéora Suspended Rock Monasteries

Greece

With a name meaning “suspended in air,” our next underappreciated place is incredible now, but was even more so when first created! The Metéora complex is a series of monasteries carved into and built atop of unique sandstone pillars, rising out of the trees. Originally inhabited in the 9th century by religious recluses and monks, the buildings were deliberately difficult to access, via a frighteningly fragile rope and net pulley system. There are carved staircases now, but the original inhabitants were real hardcore hermits!



#3: The White Temple [aka Wat Rong Khun]

Thailand

Today’s most modern wonder, the White Temple is a work in progress, not expected to be fully completed until 2070. Privately owned and constructed by Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, it is situated in Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province and, after falling into disrepair and being rebuilt by the artist, opened in 1997. The Temple is both a conventional place of Buddhist worship, and an unconventional house for modern art and ideas. The Ubosot is its central building, inside of which are murals dedicated not to tradition, but to contemporary events and idols… Michael Jackson features here, as does Freddy Kruger; there are images of the oil industry, and of terrorism. Because one day, this’ll all be ancient history too!



#2: Meenakshi Amman Temple

India

Considered as architecturally important to Southern India as the Taj Mahal is to the North, the Meenakshi Temple is six hectares of unrivalled art, culture, legend and history. Said to be the home of triple-breasted goddess Meenakshi, whose superfluous breast melted away upon marriage to Shiva, it houses an estimated 33,000 sculptures, and welcomes 15,000 visitors a day! Many of those visitors stick around until closing as well, for an important daily ritual in which an image of Shiva is carried to Meenakshi’s bedroom, to consummate their union.



Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- Natural Bridge

Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA

- La Brea Tar Pits

Los Angeles, California, USA

- Aurora Australis / Southern Lights

Southern Hemisphere

- Dambulla Cave Temple

Sri Lanka

- Uluru / Ayers Rock

Australia

- Leshan Giant Buddha

China



#1: Angel Falls

Venezuela

At 3,212 feet tall, our winner is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall – and if that’s not wonder-worthy, then what is?! Angel Falls, named after the U.S. aviator who first flew over them, have a legendary spot within the history of exploration. Notoriously difficult to locate, and even harder to navigate once you’re actually there, they’ve become a sort of unofficial aim for any aspiring adventurer. Plus, they’re the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the Pixar film, “Up”!… Quite simply, they’re beautiful, they’re breath-taking, and they beat everything else out there!



Do you agree with our list? Which unappreciated place have we unappreciated? For more top 10s worthy of recognition published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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