Petra, renowned as the capital of the Nabataean Arabs, stands as an iconic archaeological marvel, recognized globally for its historical significance. Nestled 240 kilometers to the south of Amman, Jordan’s capital, and 120 kilometers north of the Red Sea’s Aqaba, this city of wonder has secured its place as Jordan’s prized gem, captivating tourists from across the globe.
While the exact founding of Petra remains shrouded in mystery, its ascent commenced during the 1st century BC as the thriving epicenter of the Nabataean Empire. This empire flourished by trading precious commodities like frankincense, myrrh, and exotic spices.
In later times, Petra became a part of the Roman Empire, maintaining its prosperity until a seismic catastrophe struck in 363 AD, wreaking havoc upon much of the city during the 4th century.
The catastrophic earthquake, coupled with shifts in trade routes, dealt a fatal blow to Petra’s grandeur, eventually leading to its abandonment. By the mid-7th century, Petra’s bustling streets fell into desolation, known solely to the local Bedouin populations.
In the year 1812, an intrepid Swiss explorer named Johannes Burckhardt embarked on a mission to unveil Petra’s hidden secrets. Disguised as an Arab, he persuaded a Bedouin guide to lead him to the enigmatic city. This expedition marked the rekindling of Petra’s recognition in the Western world, captivating the imagination of enthusiasts and adventurers alike.
Dubbed the “rose-red city,” Petra derived its name from the enchanting hue of the rock that bore witness to the city’s architectural marvels. The Nabataeans etched intricate tombs into mountainsides to serve as resting places for their departed. The city boasted an array of features, including temples, a theater, and, post Roman annexation and Byzantine influence, a colonnaded street and churches.
Beyond the splendid remnants of the Nabataean era, Petra’s landscape offers a tapestry of human habitation spanning over 10,000 years. A convergence of natural beauty, cultural heritage, archaeological significance, and geological wonders has painted Petra as a living canvas of history.
NOTICE: Petra is not a part of ISRAEL. Since Jordan has a border with ISRAEL it is easy to get from ISRAEL to PETRA for a day tour and return to ISRAEL on the same day.