Petra, a City Carved in Stone
Trip Start Nov 10, 2013
18Trip End Dec 04, 2013
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Unfortunately ,not much is known about Petra. It is believed to have started as a cemetery; it grew into a city of thousands of people. What makes it truly unique in the world is that it is carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab people who settled here over 2000 years ago. It is believed to be been established around the 6th century BC. It was an important junction on the trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia to Egypt, Greece, Rome and Syria. Petra was hidden in the mountains and remained that way until rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer
One must walk about 1.2 km through a narrow canyon ( called a Siq) with walls that are 80 meters high. It reminded us of antelope canyon in Arizona, but on a larger scale. The rock is limestone so there are a multitude of colors exhibited in the rock faces. At end of the walk is the famous picture we have all seen, that of the Treasury building. It is huge. 30 meters (90 feet ) wide and 43 meters high carved out of pink rock faced cliffs. It was created in the 1st century AD as the tomb of an important Nabataen king.
Beyond that are hundreds of rock- cut tombs and even a roman style theatre that would hold 3000 people. There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colannaded streets as part of the complex. earthquakes over the millennia has destroyed and buried many of the structures but 500 have survived. We were told that only 60 % of the site has been discovered and explored so far.
Needless to say it is one of those "OMG" moments when you see it. To really explore Petra fully you need several days. We only saw the highlights as we had another area to see and experience-Wadi Rum.
That experience will be covered in the next blog.