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Cambodia's Angkor Wat Named World’s Top Landmark

2017-6-16

The travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world.

The website uses travelers’ reviews to choose winners each year. Angkor Wat received 33,000 five-star reviews in the last 12 months.

It also topped TripAdvisor’s list of landmarks in 2015.

Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument. It includes temples, reservoirs and canals. The website World Archaeology describes Angkor Wat as “the most extensive urban complex in the pre-industrial world.”

Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat ancient Hindu temple complex stands in Siem Reap province, some 230 kilometers (143 miles) northwest Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 28, 2012.
Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat ancient Hindu temple complex stands in Siem Reap province, some 230 kilometers (143 miles) northwest Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 28, 2012.

Built between 802 and 1431, the city of Angkor was the center of the Khmer rule in what is now Cambodia. Power struggles, foreign invasion and climate change led to the Khmer rule’s downfall.

Last year, 2.2 million tourists visited Angkor Wat.

TripAdvisor reviews call it “majestic” and “like absolutely nothing else I’ve ever seen.”

Here are a few other landmarks that made TripAdvisor’s top 25 list:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center

Just after Angkor Wat on the list is the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center.

The Center in Abu Dhabi is considered one of the UAE’s most important - and beautiful - places of worship. With minarets, reflecting pools and gold details, the mosque is extraordinary both inside and outside.

The mosque is named for the first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It was built between 1996 and 2007.

Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood

The one Russian landmark to make the list is St. Petersburg’s Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood. It came in at number 6.

The Russian-style church is colorful and detailed. One TripAdvisor user wrote, “the whole church is a piece of art….with mosaics covering every inch.”

The church was built on the place where revolutionaries killed Emperor Alexander II in 1881. That is where the church’s name comes from.

Construction on the church began two years after Alexander’s murder. It was completed in 1907. The church fell into disrepair during the Russian Revolution in 1917, and later during World War II. Repair efforts began in the 1970s. It opened to the public 27 years later.

Great Wall of China at Mutianyu

Coming in at number 7 on TripAdvisor’s list is China’s Great Wall at Mutianyu.

Miss World contestants Kamilla Salgado of Brazil, right, and Tang Xiao of China take a photo of themselves while visiting the Mutianyu Great Wall in Beijing, China Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010.
Miss World contestants Kamilla Salgado of Brazil, right, and Tang Xiao of China take a photo of themselves while visiting the Mutianyu Great Wall in Beijing, China Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010.

The Great Wall once stretched for more than 13,000 kilometers. About 8,000 kilometers still stand today.

Mutianyu is among the best-kept parts of the wall. It was first built in the middle 500s. It is the Great Wall’s longest restored part open to visitors.

Mutianyu is about 60 kilometers from Beijing. It has 23 watchtowers, and is surrounded by forests and little waterways. While many tourists visit this historic place each day, it still receives fewer visitors than some other parts close to Beijing, like the famous Badaling area.

Golden Gate Bridge

The highest-rated U.S. landmark on TripAdvisor’s list is the Golden Gate Bridge. It came in at number 11.

The famous structure stretches 2,788 meters. It opened to traffic on May 27, 1937. It is one of the world’s most impressive engineering successes. More than 110,000 cars travel across the Golden Gate Bridge everyday.

It is named after the waterway it crosses; the Golden Gate Strait flows between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. The bridge links the city of San Francisco with Marin County.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid

For our final landmark today, we head to South America. Coming in at number 20 is Argentina’s book-filled El Ateneo Grand Splendid.

When it first opened in Buenos Aires in 1919, the Grand Splendid was a performing arts theater. Some of Argentina’s most famous tango dancers performed there. Later, it became a movie theater.

Reminders of its past still remain, including red stage curtains, painted ceilings and theater boxes. But instead of rows of chairs where the audience one sat, there are now rows of bookshelves. The theater boxes are now small reading rooms. And the stage has been turned into a cafe.

Grand Splendid became a bookstore in 2000. At the time, city officials were considering tearing down the historic building. Today, it is one of the best-known bookstores in the world.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

And I'm Caty Weaver.

Have you been to any of TripAdvisor's top 25 world landmarks? If so, tell us about your experience. Write to us in the comments section.

(See the full list below)

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Words in This Story

landmark- n. an object or structure on land that is easy to see and recognize

review - n. a report that gives someone's opinion about the quality of a book, place, performance, product, etc.

monument- n. a building, statue, etc., that honors a person or event

temple- n. a building for worship

reservoir- n. a usually artificial lake that is used to store a large supply of water

canal - n. a long narrow place that is filled with water and was created by people so that boats could pass through it

worship - v. the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god

minaret - n. a tall, thin tower of a mosque with a balcony from which the people are called to prayer

reflecting pool - n. a water feature found in gardens, parks, and at memorial sites

tourist - n. a person who travels to a place for pleasure

tango - n. a Latin-American dance in which couples make long pauses in difficult positions

curtain- n. a piece of cloth that hangs down from above a window and can be used to cover the window

audience- n. a group of people who gather together to listen to something (such as a concert) or watch something (such as a movie or play)

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Here is a complete list of TripAdvisor's top tourism landmarks for 2017:

1. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

2. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

3. Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba, Spain

4. St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

5. Taj Mahal, Agra, India

6. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

7. Great Wall at Mutianyu, Beijing, China

8. Machu Picchu, Peru

9. Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

10. Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy

11. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA

12. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, USA

13. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

14. Parliament, Budapest, Hungry

15. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

16. Corcovado Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

17. Big Ben, London, United Kingdom

18. Acropolis, Athens, Greece

19. Main Market Square, Krakow, Poland

20. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

21. Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok, Thailand

22. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

23. Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

24. Ruinas Mayas de Tulum, Mexico

25. Sydney Opera House, Australia