Many travelers, including myself, would have picked the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France as the most visited site in the world, but according to the statistics collected by El Viajero of El Pais, the Great Wall of China takes the number one spot. Still, 5 out of 10 most visited monuments in the world are in Europe.
1. The Great Wall of China
The defensive wall that zigzags along the northern regions of China saw about 50 million visitors last year. It has been estimated that altogether the walls have been 21 000 km long, and 8900 km still remains. The Great Wall is not one structure that begins from somewhere and ends to another place. It comprises multiple long wall structures that were built during a number of dynasties.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral, París, France
Many cities in France have a church called Notre Dame (our lady), but in central Paris is the most famous one. The Notre Dame gets about 13 million visitors annually which translates to more than 50 000 per day. The best thing to do is to ascend to a level in the cathedral where you can get a close look at the demons, and view Paris from high above.
3. Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Sydney’s Opera House must be one of the biggest success stories of the 20th century architecture. It was opened in 1973, and about 8.2 million visitors come and take a close at it every year. Inside, the building is not as attractive as outside.
4. Taj Mahal, Agra, India
The pure white mausoleum in India is not only an impressive sight, but perhaps surprisingly, it is a muslim site. About 8 million people visit Taj Mahal annually.
5. Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, USA
The Memorial building has a large statue of Abraham Lincoln inside. In 2016, 7.9 million visitors saw the monument.
6.Eiffel Tower, París, France
One of the greatest innovators of architecture, Gustave Eiffel designed the tower that carries his name in Paris. The tower was opened to public in 1889, and has entertained 300 million visitors since then. During recent years, about 7 million people have explored the monument annually.
7. Pantheon, Rome, Italy
The Pantheon in Rome is the most visited monument in Italy surely because of its beauty, atmosphere and history, and perhaps its central location in the city. About 7 million people visit the Pantheon annually, but from May 2018 onwards a small fee will be charged. We really want to see the new statistics after that.
8. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
In 2016, the most unique cathedral in the world, Sagrada Familia, received 4.5 million visitors. To many visitors, it is a surprise that the cathedral is still a large construction site. The building started in 1882 and is expected to finish in 2026. Long queues and congestion inside have been a problem in the cathedral, and the new security checks that have been in operation since the beginning of 2018 probably won’t shorten the queues. Still, the cathedral is worth seeing, and keeping on the bucket list.
9. The Statue of Liberty, New York, USA
About 4.5 million people visit the statue annually. It is an impressive sight when viewed from the sea and from the island where it stands. Inside, there is not much to see – depending on how high visitors are allowed to ascend.
10. La Alhambra, Granada, Andalucia, Spain
Alhambra is an amazing sight on the mountains not far from the Mediterranean Sea and the Costa del Sol. Visitors who are traveling in southern Europe are suddenly transported to another world when they step into Alhambra palaces and gardens in Granada, Spain. The site was built during the 9th century by Moors who ruled most of the Iberian Peninsula at the time.
It is remarkable how sites, like the Big Ben in London, the Times Square in New York, or Wat Arun in Bangkok didn’t make it to the top 10. Perhaps it is impossible to count the number of people who come and actually explore the sight and people who just walk by. And who is counting, because there are no entrance tickets that would indicate the number of visitors? How did the Chinese count the number of the Great Wall visitors?