Some of you will remember Indiana Jones looking for the Holy Grail. He entered through a narrow gorge carved out of the rock. That was the real entrance for Petra, our next destination. About 8 million tourists visit each year.
To call Petra a wonder is a gross understatement. This rose-coloured city carved into a sheer cliff face is a masterpiece of ancient ingenuity and skill. A 360-degree street view of Petra Jordan is available on Google Maps
Here are some interesting facts:
- During the first centuries BC to AD, Petra is believed to have been home to 20,000 – 30,000 people and was an important trading city. It then sat, uninhabited, for over five centuries until rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812, hence one of it’s names – the ‘Lost City”. It is also called the “Rose City” in reference to the colour of the rock.
- It is believed that Petra was established in 312 BC, making it one of the oldest cities in the world.
- Between 1BC and 8AD Petra suffered severe earthquakes and in AD 363 it is believed about half of the city was destroyed. This led to raiding and theft of artefacts from the site.
- The entrance to the city of Petra is by a narrow passage cut through the sandstone as a result of years of rain and wind. This passage is known as the ‘Siq’, which simply means ‘gorge’. Just follow Indy’s footsteps.
- In addition to Indiana Jones, Petra was a location in The Mummy Returns. The site has also featured in TV programmes, music videos and even video game.
- Only about 15% of Petra has been explored by archaeologists, which means that there is still plenty to be revealed.
- The name Petra is derived from the Greek word ‘petros’, which means rocks.
- Petra is home to roughly 800 tombs, known as the “Royal Tombs”, with the most renowned being “The Treasury”. The Treasury was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt, and is estimated to be over 2,000 years old
- Despite what you’ve seen on the silver screen, Petra’s Treasury is not a looming maze of booby-trapped rooms designed to separate the righteous from the unworthy, but a relatively small area that is most likely a beautifully decorated graveyard.
- No cars are allowed near the ruin. You have the option of traveling by donkey, horse, or camel.
Petra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. This is one of my “bucket list” sites, so even a digital tour is exciting.