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Nabataean Petra

Updated on February 24, 2016
Ancient dwellings in Petra
Ancient dwellings in Petra

The glowing stone city of Petra with its rugged mountains is the outcome of Greek, Roman and Arab and Nabataeans civilizations that left their indelible footmarks on the city.

Petra is a 2000-year-old developmental marvel whose structures continue to perk up in the surrounding deserts and from the sky, speak of a city with much resilience that withstood the vagaries of time.

It’s a pink city of court houses, colonnade streets, facades, temples, bath houses, and palaces, and during ancient times it sustained trade routes from the heart of Arabia to Damascus and the Red Sea in the east.

The onlooker is left to ponder in amazement at what can be described as the imprinted and embossed civilization that have been once dug up, carved out and embolden into the stones and the hard-rock mountains and well-preserved ruins.

To get to Petra one goes through Wadi Musa, a village built on the natural stages of different civilizations, its up-and-coming prosperity today lies through serving as a back-stage dormitory to the flowing tourist trade into Petra. It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

Petra starts at the tourist gate and the Visitor's Center, a good one-kilometer walk to the Siq, the long-corridor opening to the magical city. People can either walk, or take a carriage ride driven by horses to the ancient city being prepared for what mother-nature has for them through the audacity of the surrounding rocks.

The 1.5-kilometer-long Siq is a monument of fascination, its gorged walls at around 100 meters high, is impressive crack between rocky mountains with its sheer elongation and color makes it an imposing presence of wonderment.

In earlier times, the gushing water from rainfall in winter through the Siq must have somewhat changed the environs of this corridor, but in time the inhabitants learned to control the water through watercourses, gullies and cisterns as it sped into the city at alarming rates.

At the end of the Siq stands as tall as ever Al Khazneh, the Treasury, reputedly the most famous of all monuments in the city. Its spectacular image lies in its carved façade as well as the history it contains and enthuses.

Built in 1 century BC, the Al Khazneh was carved out of a huge mountain that carried every symbol of Nabataean civilization. Its twilight brilliance under the sunlight coupled with its huge size and meticulous architecture, decorative motifs, rectangular blocs and carved stones must have fascinated onlookers then as it does now.

The Treasury unfolds to the rest of the city that maneuvers downwards into open areas of space. An aerial view of the Treasury and the city may at once suggest that Petra lies in closed surroundings, but this is not so as visitors quickly discover once they make their way to the rest of the beckoning architecture, vaults and arches.

Petra is also described as a city of tombs, there are over 1000 burial monuments, foretelling of a structure of urbanization that people may once lived there. Petra was a city of well-refined sculptors, priests, grave diggers, temple attendants and those who maintained the upkeep of public buildings as well as merchants who sold paraphernalia and food and water to those on the transit routes.

Besides the gardens and the pools of water and waterworks which archaeologists have unearthed in the late 1990s, the Street of the Facades provides further evidence of Nabataean development for this antiquated alleyway leads to the heart of Petra that reaches to the Royal and smaller tombs transfixed to the canyon walls.

Monumental preservations found include the Petra Theater, the Urn Tomb, and Royal Tombs built high on the mountain side and requires stiff climbing of stairs which

suggests the Nabataeans had a knack for skilled work, innovation and industriousness despite their background of a nomadic people.

These people had a fair amount of aesthetic taste and culture because of the fact that Petra was located in between cultures from the north, the west and Red Sea as well as the south.

The structures proved more remarkable still because of the implements that existed then. Although today no one lives in Petra now, except some of the remnants of the Bedoul tribe this formation remains a monument to world civilization.

Petra must be experienced to be believed in. Its structure and development is underground, in between mountains, through them, on their side and on top of them which gives one the feeling that this was rich, varied and fluid society yet protected, preserved and envied.

Take the High Place, it is located at the very top of a mountain where it needs a good climb but from where you can see a magnificent scenery of different environs and landscapes embedded in a historical time capsule.

Near the top of the mountain is the Obelisk connected through the Atuf Ridge, two structures that are Nabataeans as noted by the etchings on them, but next to them is the remainder of a Crusader Fort.

For the visitor, Petra will always be a source of surprise. Its plenty makes one feel stage-struck every time, and that's why it can certainly be considered as one of the great wonders of the world. Petra has long been chosen as a UNESCO world heritage sight and many argue, especially conservationists the city is in need of protection from the onslaught of commercialization which it is today it is exposed to because of the constant stream of tourist visitors, but with judicious planning a balance can be achieved between heritage and eco-tourism.


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    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Thanks Jami, glad you like. Hope you can come and visit some day, regards....

    • profile image

      jami l. pereira 6 years ago

      Wonderfully interesting place to write about , i enjoy this piece immensely , thank you for the read , i voted up , interesting,useful and awesome . Have a blessed day all day !:)

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Yes I hope so, and no doubt it will. But Petra already receives lots of visitors and no doubt it will receive more. No doubt the environmental and ecological strain will start to be felt few years down the round and its up to those responsible to start to think about doing something about it.

    • SilentReed profile image

      SilentReed 6 years ago from Philippines

      Your narrative style of writing puts the reader in Petra as it weave it's course down colonnaded streets,garden pools and it's past.Despite the ravage of time and men,Petra will still be here another 2000 years.Let's hope that mankind with all his folly will still be around too!

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      I think your information might be dated. After 1993 when Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel, it become open borders. Many people started to cross over for short holidays and get back. In fact, your travel agent now in the States would be able to tell you the same. So come on down! Cheers

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for the fine information about Petra. I would like to go there. I came close when I visited Israel but I was told one cannot go there from there. :)

      Oh well. I enjoyed your article.

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Next time you have a holiday opportunity come over here and see for your self, its a historical delight.

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      Great Hub! Petra is such a remarkable monument to exciting times. I enjoyed your excellent writing skills in describing what must be a very beautiful place. Thank you for a very enjoyable read. Up and awesome.

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 6 years ago from South of France

      I'm lucky enough to have visited Petra in the mid-90s and it was a trip that I'll remember all my was the most special place and, really, is there anywhere like it on earth? I only spent a day though and would love to go back, and having seen this hub, it's most definitely on the 'to do'list!

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Thanks. Come over

    • BakerRambles profile image

      BakerRambles 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I loved the article, great way to describe a wondeful location that is both historical and culturally defined. I voted up and am following you.

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Cheers all, it would be a great place to continue to visit.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      What a great hub! I enjoyed reading this a great deal. I love old places and this could be my favorite place thus far.

    • sexpressions profile image

      sexpressions 6 years ago from Wherever my imagination sees fit

      Very informative read! I feel like I just went back to school for a moment, and then to a field trip to see what I had learned about. What a wonderful place to witness!

      I do hope that we don't destroy it's natural beauty... Any place that becomes too much of a tourist attraction, somehow always becomes at least a little bit disturbed.