Ah Petra, gobsmackingly magnificent, architecturally alluring, haunting and pink! Described by UNESCO as ‘one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage‘, as it features in their Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Additionally, the ancient Nabataean city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
The Kings Highway brought us to the mouth of Petra, the capital of the ancient Nabataean Kingdom (Read: On the King’s Highway to find my pot of gold. Jordan). Significantly impressive is the city’s natural rock-cut architecture and water conduit system.
Brief historic timeline:
∇ 400-100 BC – The nomadic Nabataean tribes inhabit Petra living in tents and herding sheep, goats and camels, eventually settling down and expanding the city. During this period they grow to control the incense and spice trade within the Arab Peninsula
∇ 50 BC-50 AD – Petra is established as the capital
∇ 106 AD – Roman annex Petra under the rule of Emperor Trajan
∇ 363 AD – A powerful earthquake destroys half of Petra
∇ 600-700 AD – After the conquest of Saladin, Petra transitions to Islam
Photo-journey of what we saw:
When entering Petra, there is a short walk across a wide valley know as the Bab as-Sīq (Gateway to the Siq) towards the Siq. It is through the Siq that we reached the Treasury and other buildings such as the Roman theatre and the Monastery.
The Siq is a natural geological fault split apart by tectonic forces, only to be worn smooth by water. later. The walls that enclose the Siq stand between 91–182 m (300–600 feet) in height.
The Treasury was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt at the beginning of the 1st Century AD during the reign of Aretas IV Philopatris, who was the King of the Nabataeans from roughly 9 BC to AD 40.
After exiting the Treasury we came out into an open area where the Siq widens called The Street of Facades.
On both sides, there were a number of Nabataean burial interfaces decorated with grindstones. It is believed that these interfaces represents some of the senior officials in the city or princes.
At the end of the Colonnaded Street sits the temple known as the Qasr al-Bint al-Faroun meaning the Castle/Housem of the Daughter of Pharaoh. This relates to a local legend involving the pharaoh of the Exodus who, as the tale is told, got tired of pursuing the Israelites and eventually settled with his court here in Petra.