Through a narrow passage, pinkish in colour, surrounded bystone walls in a desert that seems to be barren and lifeless, Petra suddenly shows up in its magnificent glory.
As late as in 1812, the city of Petra was unknown for the western world untill the Swiss explorer Burckhardt introduced it. This is a mythical place and Petra has been described in poems and on many lists of “Wonders of the world”
Petra means “rock” in Greek, fitting for a town literally carved out of sandstone desert cliffs. It is located about three hours south of Amman, the capital of Jordan, and was founded by a nomadic Arab tribe known as the Nabataeans several centuries before Christ’s birth. The Nabataeans were renowned for their great skills in trade, agriculture, engineering, and architectural stone-carving.
Petra grew as a city, hidden in the lime stones and safe from water floodings, it is believed the people of Petra could control the water and created this Oasis. One also believes the broder of Moses, Aaron, is burried here. The soft stone made it possible to dig out both houses, a monastary, theaters, tombs in Petra, making it a unique place.
The site suffers from a host of threats, including collapse of ancient structures, erosion due to flooding and improper rainwater drainage, weathering from salt upwelling, improper restoration of ancient structures, and unsustainable tourism. An increasing interest if this site was created when the “new seven wonders of the world” was presented and more tourist came.
At its peak the city of Petra was home to some 20,000 Nabataeans who, in the midst of the desert, built an ingenious system of waterways to provide their city with the precious liquid. The Nabataeans, who created a spectacular city of elaborately carved freestanding temples and nearly 3,000 tombs, dwellings, banquet halls, altars, and niches, all cut into the rose-colored sandstone cliffs of southern Jordan. Petra’s aqueduct system is estimated to have carried about 40 million liters (12 million gallons) of fresh spring water per day, enough to sustain a modern-day American population of more then 100,000..
The best known tomb at Petra is called the “Khazneh,” which is Arabic for the “Treasury.” It is called this because at one time local people believed it contained hidden treasure. Today, archaeologists regard it as a two-story high tomb, albeit a masterful one. Its facade measures 82 feet (25 meters) wide and 128 feet (39 meters) high.
You can visit Petra from Eilat, Israel and from Cairo, Egypt. If in Jordan there are many tour operators visiting this site,