Petra is a top tourist attraction in Jordan. It is tucked behind a wall of rugged mountains, a well-kept secret that continues to beckon to tourists because of its unrivaled views of the ancient world. This city is amazingly carved out of rose-red rock. It is imposing, majestic as it is historical.
Situated in Jordan 133 kilometers north of Aqaba and 262 kilometers south of Amman, the Petra is the gift the Nabataeans to the world. The Nabataeans are a refined people and are characterized by their creativity and ingenuity demonstrated via huge structures – buildings, water channels and dams. The Petra has been declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Petra has been in marvelous existence for more than 400 years. It was later occupied by Emperor Trajan, who led the Roman legions in 106 A.D.
The Petra can be entered through the Siq, which is a long and narrow gorge that suddenly opens to The Treasury, a structure prominently displayed at the square. The glowing sun provides a dazzling first sight of the Petra in all its glory. The Treasury (or El-Khazneh) features an intricately carved facade filled with Nabataean gods and characters from myths, such as the heads of the Medusa, the horse-like figures of Pollux and Castor, winged Victories and dancing Amazons. There are 800 such individual monuments and you will have the time of your life exploring the streets lined with temples, arched gateways, buildings, baths, tombs and funerary halls. What's even more amazing is that more of these were carved from the sandstone.
Also in the courtyard, you will find the Bab Al-Siq Triclinium and the Obelisk Tomb. The Triclinium is a rock with rooms carved into it and benches placed at its interiors. The city features the Street of Facades meanwhile, the Theater (which seats 3,000 people) and the Royal and Urn Tombs. The Royal Tombs house what are believed to be Nabataean kings while the Urn Tomb has small niches that lead to burial chambers.
The buildings are reminiscent of a mixture of Hellenistic, Assyrian, Roman and Egyptian architecture. At the City Center, one can find the remnants of the Nymphaeum (a public fountain dedicated to water nymphs), the Colonnaded Street which leads one through to the Temple of the Winged Lions. You will also find at the end of the Colonnaded Street a ceremonial entrance to the Qasr Al-Bint Temple, which is called the Arched Gate. This gate is of Greco-Roman design.
Another magnificent architectural site is the Qasr Al-Bint Temple, with its massive walls (23 meters high!). This is the most important temple at the Petra and is built in honor of Dushara (later to become Dionysus, the Greek God of wine). It has three rooms with a stone god block.
For more on the culture of the Nabataeans, you can also look at the Al-Habees, which is a museum as well as the Habees High Place. Climbing up on further, you will find the High Place of Sacrifice, which is to be found on top of Attuf Ridge. There is still a host of monuments and buildings you can look into.
The sun can add to the magnificence of this site – come late afternoon or early morning, the sun shines and illumines the multicolored stones.
The Smithsonian Magazine chose Petra as one of the "28 Places to See Before You Die." It was also declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.