Journey to the past: secrets of Jordan's most popular location, Petra

Albina PanchenkoLife
Interesting facts about the city of Petra

Fate is a strange thing. The city of Petra was once known to the whole world. Here Moses got water from the rock, here were the main trade routes from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and here jewels, fur coats, and spices were sold. Then there was nothing. Only the palaces carved in stone remind us of the power of the once majestic city. So why are tourists so fond of this location in Jordan? What makes it unique?


What do you need to know about Petra?

This city probably began to be built in the 18th century B.C. At that time, the Idumeans settled in the narrow Sik Canyon at an altitude of more than 900 meters above sea level. For more than 500 years, construction of structures in the rocks continued. But the true greatness of the city reached for the Nabateans, who came to this land much later, in the second century BC.

Little was known about Petra for a long time. It is mentioned in the Bible. It is also believed that it was here where Moses extracted water from the rock. Whether this is true or not is hard to say. But the fact that there has been a full-fledged water supply since ancient times is true.

Merchants and tourists (yes, they came here not only for business) were willing to travel the hard way to get to Petra. They knew that here they would be given water, food and a roof over their heads.

The natives were friendly to every visitor. Because of this, the city developed very rapidly and finally became a target first for the Romans, then for the Byzantines, the Arabs and even the Crusaders.

After one of the attacks, Petra fell. Its buildings still towered over the land of what is now Jordan, but the people were no longer there. For many centuries the world forgot about the dead city until Johann Burckthardt found it in 1812.


What makes this city special

Archaeologists still don't understand how it was possible to make such structures right in the rock slopes in ancient times. Even now, with all the latest technology, it is a very difficult task. Many centuries ago it seemed impossible at all.

And this is not the main mystery that historians are trying to solve. There was a water supply here earlier than anywhere else on the planet. The Nabataeans, who invested a lot of effort in the development of the settlement, formed many canals through which water ran through the city. In addition, the local population put various barrels and buckets outside during the rains to have enough liquid in times of drought.

Another peculiarity of Petra is the constant change of color of the walls of buildings. But modern scientists have dealt with it. The special rock, of which the city is built, has an interesting property. It changes its color depending on the light and weather.


What to see in Petra

Not only ordinary tourists come to Petra, but also pilgrims. It is believed that this is a real place of power that helps become closer to God.

And there is a lot to see here. On the way to town, which runs along a two-kilometer trail, you will see many strange stone figures and rock bas-reliefs. If you pay attention, you may notice the remains of a Roman waterfall.

At the entrance to Petra stands the palace of El Khazneh, which is associated with many legends. Historians believe that this is the former treasury, which was built around the 1st century. However, there is a version that the treasures of an Egyptian pharaoh were (or still are) kept here. Where they might have come from is unknown. Perhaps they were stolen from the ruler of the ancient state and hidden here by robbers.

Farther away you will see an incredible 45-meter high monastery. To get to its entrance, you will have to overcome 800 steps. It takes about an hour to climb, so be sure to take water with you.

In the central part of Petra you will find many tombs and temples, as well as a Roman amphitheater for 7,000 people, where various concerts and cultural events are still held.


What you need to know before you go to Petra

A trip like this can really surprise you. Petra is not just a ruin on a rock. Now it is a real tourist attraction, where thousands of people come every day.

It has long been equipped with restaurants, stores with various trinkets and souvenirs, agencies with guides and other services that make life easier for visitors.

The best time to travel is late spring and early fall. In winter it is very cold and rains often. Such natural conditions do not encourage a good walk. In summer, the thermometer rises to almost 40 degrees above zero. The crowds of tourists and heavy noise can severely spoil the impression of this incredible place.

Previously OBOZREVATEL told about the mysteries of the ancient city of Machu Picchu.

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