Wondering about wonders? Stories, science and history behind the world's most amazing sights

A new book sets out to explain how the great wonders of the world were formed, their history and the remarkable stories behind their existence

They're among the greatest sights in the world, man-made structures designed to inspire awe and reverence, natural creations that showcase the dazzling power of nature, and they're on every traveller's wish-list.

A new book by Lonely Planet has collated the top 50 must-see world wonders, but has gone a step further and set out to explain how they were formed, their history and the remarkable stories behind their existence.

From the magical Potala Palace in Tibet, to the majesty of the Victoria Falls and the mystery of the Terracotta Army, the book details the history and creation of each of the wonders, providing the facts and scientific background to their creation.

Lonely Planet and The Independent have picked 14 of the world's wonders below

Among the subjects covered, the book delves into  the secrets behind unique landscapes like the Giant’s Causeway and Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni; dramatic water wonders like Afghanistan’s Band-e Amir and Belize’s Great Blue Hole.

It also provides the background to man-made mysteries such as the Easter Island Statues, Peru’s Nazca Lines and Britain's Stonehenge and modern engineering and architectural marvels, including Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah, the Panama Canal and ancient structures like the Acropolis and Great Pyramid of Giza.

The book, which is published in March, includes a foreword by art historian and BBC television presenter Dan Cruickshank, who explains: “The aim of this book is straightforward – to inform, to inspire and to encourage its readers to travel.  If you know key facts about your destination you will surely enjoy it – and most certainly understand it – better.

"Of course the term ‘wonder’ is loose, clearly subjective and poetic, rather than scientific or objective. I suggest anything that surprises, mystifies, or takes the breath away by its sheer size, beauty or audacity is a wonder.”

Jheni Osman, the author of The World’s Great Wonders, adds: “This book takes you a step further on your travels, revealing the science and engineering behind how epic structures were built or incredible natural wonders formed. It was always going to be tough to reduce all the world’s amazing wonders into 50 must-see sights, but this book spans the heights of engineering, the spectrum of beautiful architecture, and the eons of time.”

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