Petra is an amazing Nabatean city located in the west of Jordan on the edge of the Dead Sea Rift Valley. It is located about 3 hours to the south of Amman and 2 hours to the north of Aqaba. The city has huge facades carved entirely in red sandstone. The temples and tombs found here in Petra are unlike any other building in the world. The sights of Petra are best seen either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun warms the multicolored stones and the beauty of place can be better viewed. The area is semi-arid and the soft sandstones allowed the Nabateans to carve their temples, and tombs into the rocks.
Petra has had a great religious significance since the olden days. This has great religious significance as it has been mentioned in the Bible in connection with the Old Testament. A number of other things are significantly connected to the Bible. It is said the Moses struck a rock with his staff to bring out water – and this place is called ‘Ain Mousa’ or the Spring of Moses. Aaron is believed to have died and buried here on the top of Jabal Haroun or Mount Aaron.
This ancient city of Petra is one of Jordan’s most priced national treasures and it is an excellent tourist attraction. The Nabatean Arabs were industrious people who had made their home here about two thousand years ago. The city was established around the 6th century B.C. by the Nabatean Arabs who were a nomadic tribe and who laid foundation for a big and famous empire. The Roman Emperors, Pompey and Herod, tried to bring Petra under their control but they could not succeed. Petra has come to be recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site that attracts visitors from all over the world.
There is a lot of architecture here which was totally lost to the world until the year 1812, when it was rediscovered. Petra is also known by the ancient name of Rekem and this name figures in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This city was enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream. Petra had a fortress which controlled the main commercial routes of the caravan trade which went to Gaza, Basra, and Damascus. Excavations have shown us that the desert city of Petra flourished as the Nabateans had learnt to control the water supply. The Nabateans worshipped the Arab gods and goddesses of the pre-Islamic periods, as well as a few kings whom they had deified.
You will have to be prepared to do a lot of walking and climbing to have a look at these treasures. You will see a number of buildings, tombs, baths, temples, gateways, and funeral halls. You will also see a 3000-seat open-air amphitheater, a very ancient monastery and a modern archaeological museum. The best known monument at Petra is the ‘Khazaneh’ which is the first structure to greet any visitor when he enters via the Siq, the main gateway. The facade which is carved from a sandstone cliff is 40 meters high. The place was used as a hiding place for treasure and, therefore, it was called ‘Khazaneh’. Other tombs and halls surround this construction.
Under the Roman rule, Petra and its importance declined rapidly. A massive earthquake destroyed many buildings and irreparably damaged the water management system. The weakened buildings and structures became vulnerable to thieves and bandits and many of the treasures here were looted and ransacked.
There are a number of hotels and restaurants at Petra and therefore visitors should not foresee any problem. A visit to Petra is awe-inspiring, but you should be prepared to walk. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, have a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun, and above all keep plenty of drinking water.
Take the tour of Petra. You will definitely enjoy it!