Modern Marvels: International Travel Edition

Inspired by the hit television documentary series, this week we have compiled a list of our top five favorite engineering achievements worth traveling to see!

1. Panama Canal

Construction of this iconic canal began in 1881 but was not officially completed until 1914, due to engineering problems and stoppages from disease. The new canal greatly reduced travel time for ships traversing to and from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Today, nearly 15,000 ships pass through the 48-mile canal system every year, making it one of the most fascinating wonders of the modern world. One of the best ways to see the canal is to cruise through it!

2. Delta Works in The Netherlands

Surprisingly, much of the Netherlands is located at or below sea level, with relatively new land having been created with the help of hundreds of windmills. However, due to its elevation, the nation has historically faced flood threats and disasters, which led to the creation of the Delta Works. The Delta Works are a series of flood protection structures, including dams and storm surge barriers, lining the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta. Appreciate these modern marvels as a day trip from Amsterdam.

3. The Eiffel Tower

Perhaps an obligatory inclusion on this list of engineering achievements is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Initially constructed in 1889 for the World’s Fair as a temporary installation, the Eiffel Tower has proven to be one of the most enduring symbols of France and the Industrial Age. What you may not know is that the tower has 20,000 lightbulbs and 336 floodlights, 50 miles of electricity cables, 1,665 steps to the top, weighs more than 222 million pounds, has 18,038 metal parts and 2.5 million rivets. Depending on temperature, the height of the structure can vary up to six inches!

4) Dubai: Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab and Palm Islands

Rising out of the desert, Dubai’s city center is filled with bustling souks, dazzling shopping malls, amazing architecture and rich history. Three of the most iconic modern engineering accomplishments in the world are located in Dubai: the Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper; the Burj Al Arab, a sail-shaped luxury hotel overlooking the Persian Gulf; and the artificial islands off the coast, two of which resemble a palm tree.

5) Three Gorges Dam

Situated on the Yangtze River, the hydroelectric Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric project, and is also one of the most controversial man-made structures. The dam is multi-purpose, producing electricity, increasing shipping capacity on the Yangtze, and reducing potential downstream floods. Unfortunately, the creation of the dam resulted in flooding of historical and cultural sites, and displaced up to 1.3 million people over the course of a decade. Visiting the Three Gorges Dam is a lesson on the ingenuity of engineering, while also a reminder of the importance of the Yangtze River to Chinese history and culture.

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