Petra - The Rose-Red City
Petra - The Rose-Red City
Location: Jordan

Petra - The ancient city of Petra is one of Jordan's national treasures and by far its best known tourist attraction. Petra is located approximately 2 hours North-East of Eilat (Israel), Petra is the legacy of the Nabataens - an industrious tribe 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, Petra is now a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World that enchants visitors from all over the globe.

The site of Petra is accessed by walking through a kilometer long gorge (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 facade of the Treasury is only one of myriad archaeological wonders to be explored at Petra. Inside Petra there are hundreds of buildings, tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples, arched gateways, colonnaded streets and rock drawings - as well as a 3000 seats open air theatre , a gigantic first century Monastery and a modern archeological museum.

Petra was first established sometime around the 6th century BC, by the Nabataean, a nomadic tribe who settled in the area and laid the foundations of a commercial empire. According to local tradition, Moses and the Israelites passed through the Petra area in Edom. Local tradition says also that Aaron, the brother of Moses and Miriam, died in Jordan and was buried in Petra at Mount Hor, now called Jabal Harun in Arabic (Mount Aaron). A Byzantine church and later an Islamic shrine/tomb of Aaron were built on the summit of the mountain, which today attracts pilgrims from all over the world

Some of the sites you will see when you visit petra:
Entrance to Petra is through the Siq, a narrow gorge, over 1 kilometer in length, which is flanked on either side by soaring, 80 metres high cliffs. Just walking through the Siq is an experience in itself. The colors and formations of the rocks are dazzling. As you reach the end of the Siq you will catch your first glimpse of Al-Khazneh (Treasury).

The Treasury, a massive façade, 30m wide and 43m high, carved out of the sheer, dusky pink, rock-face and dwarfing everything around it. It was carved in the early 1st century as the tomb of an important Nabataean king and represents the engineering genius of these ancient people.

As you enter Petra valley you will be overwhelmed by the natural beauty of this place and its outstanding architectural achievements. There are hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs with intricate carvings - unlike the houses, which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, the tombs were carved to last throughout the afterlife and 500 have survived, empty but bewitching as you file past their dark openings.

There is a Roman-style theatre inside Petra, which could seat 3,000 people. There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets, and high above, overlooking the valley, is the impressive Ad-Deir Monastery - a flight of 800 rock cut steps will take you there.

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