Today we know Petra as one of the new seven wonders of the world, a “rose-red city half as old as time“.
Some recognise the Khazneh (Treasury) from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But did you know this Eastern marvel was really rediscovered by accident?
The young adventurous Swiss explorer who stumbled upon it was really looking for the source of the River Niger. Sadly he died of dysentery at 32 and never fulfilled his great ambition.
Why is Petra intriguing? It’s hard not to marvel at how it became one of the wealthiest cities in a very harsh climate. It is a city literally carved into solid rock by the Nabataeans, an ancient Arab tribe. It is amazing how they shifted from a nomadic lifestyle to become prosperous urban dwellers.
Walking through the red rock Siq, a very narrow gorge more than 1km long, one can see agricultural terraces and water channels cut into the cliffs. Clearly, the Nabataeans were clever architects, engineers, stonemasons and artists.
Their intriguing lives are a central part of the mythical allure of Petra, with its craggy moutain tops, high cliffs, and celebrated tombs…
It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;But from the rock as if by magic grown,eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!