Petra, the fabled “rose red city, half as old as time” is one of the world most fascinating archaeological sites comprising what remains of an ancient capital city once ruled by the Nabataean kingdom from the 6th century BC. Located in the desert between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea in southern Jordan, this ancient site is noted for its sophisticated water management system and marvelous architecture carved from sandstone cliff faces.
Because of its location on a major trade route, Petra was a leading center of commerce where spices, incense and Chinese silks were once traded. Even today, the enormity and grandeur of the city’s ruins bespeaks its wealth and importance. In 106 AD, the Roman Empire took control of Petra. Over two hundred years later in 363 AD, the water management system was nearly destroyed after a catastrophic earthquake. Petra later was abandoned and remained forgotten until a Swiss explorer by the name of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt encountered it in 1812.
A tour of Petra today involves walking through the entrance known as the Siq, which is a long, meandering canyon noted for its odd sandstone patterns and carvings in the rock walls. After the Siq is the magnificent Treasury, which was actually not a treasury but probably a temple or a royal tomb. Other significant ruins include the 7,0000-seat Roman Theatre, the Royal Tombs, The Monastery and the Street of Facades, a huge canyon bordered with the facades of assorted tombs.
A restaurant and several store vendors throughout Petra offer food, snacks and drinks while the nearest city, Wadi Musa, offers a wider variety of dining and bar options.
Petra can be reached by buses, taxis and tour operations. However, once within the archaeological site, walking or rides from camels, donkeys and horses are the only allowed transportation.