Constructed around 312 BCE as the capital of the Nabataeans, Petra truly reflects the heritage of Jordan. This wonder of the world is half-built and half-carved into the rock. It is a small desert valley covered by towering sandstone cliffs on the edges of the Wadi Araba desert. Here are some interesting facts about Petra, Jordan:
1. Meaning of Petra
Petra got its name from a feminine Greek word “petros” which means “rocks.” Its other name is Al-Batra in Arabic, but Petra is more popular.
2. Often referred to as “Rose city”
Petra is often called ‘Rose City’ because of the rose-red colored sandstone hills. It is well surrounded by the red-tinged mountains, which makes a reddish appearance.
3. A Swiss discovered it
Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer, discovered Petra in 1812. As it was an unknown entity for about 5 centuries, it is also called the ‘Lost City.”
4. Who made the Petra?
The Nabataeans, the ancient southern Arab people, made the city of Petra as a trade route to connect to southern Asia and Greece. They arrived in Jordan in around the 6th century BC and were the creators of one of the most remarkable ancient civilizations.
Source: redicecreations.com, Image: atlastours.net
5. The residents were worshipers of Sun
European studies found that The Nabataeans built this city to track the astronomical movements of the sun and also built an altar on the top their house.
6. Extraordinary Entrance
To enter the Petra, one has to pass through a narrow canyon of about 1 km. It is bound by tall cliffs of about 80 km called Al-Siq.
Source: allwonders.com, Image: Wikipedia
7. Dead Sea is eroding it
Continuous salt blowing from the Dead Sea is solidifying the pores of the sandstone and slowly hampering the structures.
8. Petra is Royal Tomb
Petra is an enormous city of tombs, monuments and sacred structures carved into stone cliffs. It has around 800 carved tombs as thus is denoted as “Royal Tombs.”
9. This desert was an abundant source of water
Because of the water conservation system at that time, there was sufficient amount of water for around 30,000 people. There was also enough water in this desert region to have the lush garden, they managed to grow lush green gardens in the desert.
10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed here
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a famous American adventure film of 1989 was filmed here. The fictional Canyon of the Crescent Moon was filmed on the eastern entrance of the Petra.
11. Shop a great variety of Souvenirs
While touring the city of Petra, one can shop things such as authentic souvenirs of Jordanians and Nabateans. There is also a collection of stone carvings, embroidery, silverware and pottery.
Source: theancientcityofpetra.blogspot.in, Image: american_rugbier, Flickr
12. How was it destroyed?
In May, 363 A.D. a pair of severe earthquakes destroyed half of the city. Many buildings and their water systems were highly damaged.
13. Once it was a commercial hub!
Petra was the city of traders and hence was commercially vibrant and was once the house of many treasures. But due to its structural weakening, its treasures were stolen over the years.
14. Is a World Heritage Site
Because of its historical importance and sensitive structure, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
15. Importance in Christianity
Petra was once an important center of Christianity. It has a 6th A.D. marble pulpit from a Byzantine church called the Blue Chapel.
16. Petra was made in 3 periods
The most of the Petra was made in 3 different periods- the Edomites (18th-2nd century BC), the Nabateans (2nd century BC- 106 BC) and the Romans from (106 – 395 BC) but the remains left are mainly of the Nabateans period.