PETRA – The Rose Red City

“ Petra is a brilliant display of man’s artistry in turning barren rock into a majestic wonder. ”
― Edward Dawson

Petra, the fabled “rose red city, half as old as time”, is a well known ancient Nabataean city in the south of Jordan. It is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction. Due to its breathtaking grandeur and fabulous ruins, Petra was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

Carved directly into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years.

The site remained unknown to the western world until 1812 when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate Prize-winning poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. It was named amongst the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.

Interesting Petra Facts

  • Petra is thought to have been established as early as 312 BC. It was the capital city of Nabataeans. There is evidence to suggest that between 1550 and 1292 BC settlements had begun in and around Petra.
  • In biblical times, the part of the country where Petra lies was assigned to the Horites. Biblical references refer to it as ‘the cleft in the rock’. It is thought that this was in reference to the entrance.
  • It was the center of caravan trade, an important junction for the silk trade. It was located at a junction that China, India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Syria and southern Arabia used for trading spices and silk, among other products.
  • There was enough water to support the 30,000 people that are believed to have inhabited this place. There was also enough water in this desert region to have lush gardens.
  • There are approximately 800 structures in Petra. The most famous are Pharoah’s Treasure, a mausoleum.
  • It was captured by Muslims in the 7th century and by the Crusaders in the 12th century.
  • In the Middle, Ages Petra had become a place of interest and was even visited in the 13th century by the Sultan Baibars of Egypt.
  • Only 15% of this area has been explored by archeologists. The rest remains to be discovered.


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