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Petra : The Rose-Red City

Petra, Jordan is known as "the rose-red city" due the amazing rock colours from which most of the city's monuments were carved into. It is one of the most famous and important archaeological places in the world and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city remained forgotten by the west for centuries but in current days it is Jordan's gem attraction. Come and discover more about this magical place!

When was Petra, Jordan built?

Petra, "rock" in Greek, was first called Sela. The Edomites (descendents of Esau, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham) occupied the area around 1200 BC but some centuries later it was occupied by the Nabateans, an Arab tribe which actually found Petra as we know it. The precise date of the city's foundation is unknown but Petra was already capital of the Nabatean Empire at least from the 3rd century BC.

The city prospered immensely as a rich centre of spices and myrrh trade route, specially to India, Greece, China, and Egypt. It is believed that the city's population during that time was between 10-30 thousand people. 

In 106 AD the Nabatean tribe was defeated by the Romans  and Petra became part of the Roman Empire. The city was still prospering but a combination of factors caused its gradual decline, such as natural causes and commercial changes. The trade routes were changing and the city was suffering from constant earthquakes, two in particular were very damaging: in 363 AD and 551 AD. After the last one, most habitants had already left Petra. The city was abandoned.

Some few occupations occurred centuries later, such as the Islamic invasion in the 7th century and the Crusaders in the 12th century. But apart from these, Petra was forgotten most of the time, except for the local Bedouins. 

Only in 1812 the city would be rediscovered by Western eyes. Under an Arabic name, costumes and perfect Arabic language skills, the Swiss explorer Johannes Burckhardt (the same who also rediscovered the Abu Simbel temples) convinced a Bedouin guide to show him "the lost city". His journals and

What are Petra's highlights?

Petra, Jordan is covered by tombs carved into the rocks, temples, churches, colonnaded streets, and a theatre. Because the subsequent occupations, the city also has Roman and Byzantine influences.

The experience starts even before reaching the city. The narrow gorge called Siq is a classic entry path of over 1km through the mountains and rocks up to 200 meter-high. From there, visitors have the first impressions of this beautiful ancient city, among them the Treasury, a 2 thousand years old large tomb believed to be of a Nabatean prince or king. 

Next comes the Monastery, one of the highlights and post-cards of Petra, which is an unfinished tomb facade that served as church during the Byzantine Empire. It is nearly 50 meters square and the largest monument of Petra. 

Another well-preserved construction is the altar called High Place of Sacrifice (Al-Madbah), it is located on the top of a mountain close to the Roman theatre. From above you will have a dazzling view of the city. 

The Colonnaded Street is definitely another must-see. This paved street used to be the market place with many public areas, including a Roman-style fountain. Next comes the Royal Tombs, with stunning facades. It also served as cathedral. 

It is also important to comment that much before Petra be Petra, around 10 thousand years before, the place was a human settlement and there were discovered remains from the Neolithic and Paleolithic eras. 

Where is Petra, Jordan located?

The city is located 240 km south of the capital Amman.

Is it worth to visit Petra, Jordan?

Absolutely. The city not just shows the heritage of a magnificent tribe culturally speaking but it also blends geological, natural and archaeological experiences. It is the main attraction in Jordan and was listed as one of the 7 Wonders of the New World in 2007.