Modelled after real-life "Wonders of the World": Monuments that represent the magnificence, power and prestige of the nation that built them; Wonders are a unique class of buildings in Rise of Nations, which unlike regular buildings, can only be built once in an entire game, and at a great cost; albeit with a greater reward if successfully built. Any nation can compete for being the first to build a particular wonder, although if another nation builds it first, the losing nations' efforts are wasted.
Many wonders from varied locations, ages, and time periods can be found in the game. Each offers a unique set of benefits, ranging from boosts in resource production, increases in Commerce and Population caps to a discount of research times and costs; or even unique bonuses to buildings/units.
Each Wonder also has a cultural point value associated with it, called Wonder Points. On standard game settings, a game can be decided entirely on what nation has the most wonders, and win by accumulating of enough of them. Some game modes even develop entirely around Wonders, building them quickly being the determining factor in victory. As a general rule, the more "advanced" the Wonder (that is, the age it becomes available), the more wonder points it grants.
Most Wonders must be built within a city's radius, and each city may only have one wonder within that radius (except for the Egyptians, whose national power allows for 2 wonders per city), limiting the number of Wonders to the number of cities controlled.
Rise of Nations shipped with fourteen Wonders available to build, two for each age, starting in the Classical Age. The Thrones and Patriots expansion added three new Wonders, bringing the total to seventeen.