Petra and as the Nabateans used to call it “Raqmu” is one of the most famous cities in Jordan due to its archaeological and architectural history. The city is also known as the Rose City due to its pink rocks formations.
Petra was established in 312 AC, and it became the capital of the Nabateans people, who were referred to in the Bible. They inhabited the region of Petra between the IV AC and II DC. Petra was also a very important commercial center between the Arabic peninsula and Damascus in Syria, and today Petra is the most visited tourist attraction in Jordan.
The Romans conquered Petra in 106 A.C, and they turned the territory into a roman province. During the second and third centuries, Petra continued to grow and in the seventh century, the Romans lost the power of Petra to Islam.
In the 12th century, Petra was once again taken by different leaders and for a while, Petra was hidden until it was found by Swiss explores Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who was responsible to announce the city into the world with his poem “a rose-red city half as old as time.”
Where is Petra located?
Petra is located in the territory between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, in the mountains of the east side of the Wadi Araba. In the city of Petra, many ancient monuments can be found such as the Roman Theater, the Royal Tombs, and others.
Places to visit in Petra
Bab el Siq
Bab el Siq is the gate of Siq, the main entrance to the city. As you arrive, you will see three square blocks carved into the rock, then you will see the tomb of the 1st century A.D. The bottom is where you can find the Triclinium, a banquet room. On the opposite side of the cliff, you will see a double inscription in Nabataean and Greek.
Al Khazneh (The Treasury)
The entrance to the city of the Nabataeans is made through the Siq, a strait measuring around one km long, flanked by rocks that reach up to 80 meters high. A walk through the Siq is a unique experience. The colors and rock formations you will see are impressive.
During the walk as you reach the end of the Siq, the great treasure begins to emerge, the postcard Al-Khazneh, one of the ruins of Petra, the most famous among them. The natural beauty and the remarkable architectural features of this place will blow your mind.
The Treasury is one of the wonders you can find in the ruins of Petra. There are several, or rather, hundreds of tombs made in the rock, Roman theater, obelisks, temples, altars for offering sacrifices and colonnaded streets, and, high up in the valley, there is the sumptuous Ad-Deir Monastery.
Petra Royal Tombs
Downhill from the Theatre is a larger thoroughfare. Within its west-facing cliffs, there are some of the most impressive burial places in Petra, known collectively as the ‘Royal Tombs’. They look particularly stunning bathed in the golden light of sunset; there are four of them one next to the other. However, they suffered flood damage over the centuries which lead to some of their facades no being as well kept, possibly part of the reason they are not as famous as the Treasury. There are steps that lead up to them and you can actually visit the inside of these tombs.
After the eighth century, when Petra was largely abandoned as a trading center, its stone structures were used for shelter by nomadic shepherds for several centuries.
When Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Petra Bedouin tribespeople who had made homes for themselves within the city’s remaining ruins were forcibly relocated by the Jordanian government.
In the early 2000s, the site was named one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World,” leading to a spike in tourism. Since then, efforts have been made to protect the ruins of Petra from heavy tourism, as well as damage from floods, rain and other environmental factors.