Middle East · Jordan Petra
This ancient city of Petra, one of Seven Wonders of the World, is one of Jordan’s national treasures and is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2000 years ago. Admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels. It was originally known to the Nabataeans as Raqmu.
Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that enchants visitors from all corners of the globe. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Much of Petra’s appeal comes from its spectacular setting deep inside a narrow desert gorge. The site is accessed by walking through a kilometer long chasm (or siq), the walls of which soar 200 meters upwards. Petra’s most famous monument, the Treasury, appears dramatically at the end of the siq. Used in the final sequence of the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.
The towering façade of the Treasury is only one of myriad archaeological wonders to be explored at Petra. Various walks and climbs reveal literally hundreds of buildings, tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples, arched gateways, colonnaded streets and haunting rock drawings – as well as a 3000 seat open air theatre, a gigantic 1st century Monastery and a modern archeological museum, all of which can be explored at leisure. A modest shrine commemorating the death of Aaron, brother of Moses, was built in the 13th century by the Mamluk Sultan, high atop mount Aaron in the Sharah range.
The “Lost City” is another name for Petra, because it became lost to the western world after the 1400’s AD. 4 centuries later, however, it was rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss traveler, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who tricked his way into the fiercely guarded site by pretending to be an Arab from India wishing to make a sacrifice at the tomb of the Prophet Aaron.