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The Rose-Red City of Petra

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The jewel of South Jordan is Petra, the unique 2,000-year-old rock-carved city. Carved entirely into the rose-red cliffs, the remains of the once lost Nabataean city of Petra includes temples, Roman theaters, monasteries, houses and roads. Petra flourished for over 400 years around the time of Rome and Christ, until it was occupied by the Roman legions of the emperor Trajan in 106 A.D. The Petra basin boasts over 800 individual monuments that were mostly carved from the kaleidoscopic sandstone by the technical and artistic genius of the Nabataeans. The wealth and political power of the Nabataean people derived from their control of the international trade routes that linked China, India and Southern Arabia with the wealthy Mediterranean markets such as Anatolia, Greece, Rome, Egypt and Syria. Lost to outsiders for hundreds of years, Petra has been a symbol of the hidden treasures of the Near East since its rediscovery in 1812 by the Swiss explorer John Ludwig Burckhardt.

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The siq

The drama of visiting Petra starts with the journey into the mountain-ringed city along the siq, a winding, one kilometer long fissure through the surrounding and overhanging cliffs. Once inside, the siq narrows to little more than five meters in width, while the walls tower up hundreds of meters on either side. The floor, originally paved, is now largely covered with soft sand, although evidence of Nabataean construction can still be seen in some places.
At the end of the siq, the passage widens and you catch a glimpse of the astonishing monument that dominates Petra, El Khazneh (The Treasury), Petra's most famous and impressive monument. Inspired by classical Hellenistic architecture, the Khazneh is a tomb for a Nabataean King depicting Nabataean gods and goddesses and mythological figures. The rock face in which it is carved is sheltered from winds and rain so the Khazneh is consequently the best preserved of all the monuments. You might recognize this monument from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. El Khazneh (The Treasury)
Street of Facades Monuments along the Street of Facades connecting El Khazneh to the Theatre.

More monuments along the Street of Facades.

Street of Facades
The Necropolis The Necropolis with the Roman Theatre in the background.
Detail of the sandstone coloration from one of the tombs in the Necropolis. Sandstone coloration
Roman-style theatre The Roman-style theatre, hewn out of the rock, in which about 2000 people could be seated. In the background, the facades of early tombs which were partly cut away during the construction of the theatre, can be seen.
Detail of the Roman-style theatre Roman-style theatre
Urn Tomb The first of the royal tombs carved into the rock face known as the King's Wall is the Urn Tomb, a well-preserved monument that faces out over an open terrace fronted by a double row of vaults. A colonnaded cloister runs along the northern side of the terrace.
After some smaller tombs, the next major structure along the King's Wall is the badly weathered Corinthian Tomb, which resembles a smaller version of the Khazneh. Corinthian Tomb
Palace Tomb Adjacent to the Corinthian Tomb is the Palace Tomb, with a facade imitating a Roman palace of three stories. The Kings of Petra were buried in these enormous mausoleums.

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All Pictures are Copyright 1998-2002 Grisel Gonzalez

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