PETRA (البترا)

We spend one day exploring ancient Petra, which lies half-hidden in the wind-blown landscape in southern Jordan. It is often deemed one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the world. Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt, and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture. Although Petra is huge, archaeologists believe that 85% of the city is yet to be discovered.

Carved directly into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric city was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years. Petra was once a thriving trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 BC and AD 106. Before they were conquered and absorbed into the Roman Empire, the Nabataeans controlled a vast tract of the Middle East from modern-day Israel and Jordan into the northern Arabian peninsula. The remains of their innovative water capture, storage, transport, and irrigation networks are still found throughout this area. For centuries, the city sat empty and in near ruin. Only in the early 1800s did John Lewis Burckhardt disguise himself in Bedouin costume and infiltrate the mysterious locale.

Parking location – Wadi Musa: 30.327201N 35.468254E (🚻)