Petra is known as the Rose Red City after the rock coloration the city is carved in to. Located in modern day Jordan, Petra was once the crossroads of trade linking the silk and spice trade routes of China and India to Mediterranean countries such as Egypt, Rome, Greece and Syria. To travel to Petra, you must walk through the Siq, or gorge. The cliff walls are over 262 feet high and the Siq is approximately 1 mile long. Once you maneuver through the Siq, the Treasury of Al-Khazneh will be the first building visitors will encounter. Inside the city you will find a massive 3,000 seat Roman style theater.
Scholars estimate Petra was created around the 6th century B.C. as the capital of the industrious Arab Nabataeans. The Nabataeans mastered the ability to control the water supply through the use of dams and water conduits resulting in an artificial oasis. With their knowledge, they were able to survive through long droughts. The Nabataean people were able to fend off multiple attacks until the Roman Empire took control of the city around 100 A.D. During the Roman control, the city began to deteriorate as the Romans changed the trade routes away from Petra to more sea based trade routes. It was populated during the Byzantine period, but continued to deteriorate as the Romans shifted their interests to Constantinople. An earthquake shook Petra around 363 A.D., destroying many of the buildings and the water system.
A fort was built by the Crusaders, but lack of use caused them to abandon it soon after. Petra received tourists during the middle ages along with Sultan Baibars of Egypt toward the end of the 13th century. After the middle ages, the city was turned over to the local people until 1812, when Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a swiss explorer, rediscovered the city.
Petra was appeared in more than one movie, but the most famous was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Today, Petra is visited by more than 580,000 people a year. Due to flooding, Petra is endanger of falling into even more ruin from constant erosion.
quick facts & figures
Construction Start: 6 BC
Constructed By: Nabataeans
Rediscovered in: 1812
Rediscovered By: Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
Siq Wall Height: 262′
Annual Tourism: 580,000