Petra, the lost oasis

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The rose-colored forgotten city of Petra in Jordan

Jordan’s most famous tourist destination is the rocky town of Petra – which you might know from the legendary adventure movie Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. And it is one of the world’s 7 wonders.

The town was carved out of the slightly pink rocks more than 2000 years ago and is today protected with status as one of the seven new wonders of the world. The trip to the city goes through a two-kilometer long narrow gorge, the Siq. It is like walking through a desert sculpture that constantly changes with changing light and shadows, various impressive rock formations and the beautiful, ever-changing desert.

The Treasury at Petra Jordan lit at night

Petra Jordan midnight

Deep within one of Jordan’s most desolate desert canyons and high mountains lies an ancient forgotten civilization’s headquarters. It’s called Petra. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and as mentioned one of the world’s new seven wonders, Petra for its time is a huge area of tombs, monuments and elaborate religious ornaments cut directly into the red or rather pink sandstone rocks. Petra may be built as far back as 9,000 B.C. and evolved into a thriving capital of the Nabataean kingdom. The Nabataeans were an Arab nomadic tribe who settled in the area of the 6th century before the birth of Christ. This culture, we know so little about, ruled much of today’s third-century Jordan before our era until the first century AD, as so many other cultures had to surrender to the rising power of the Roman Empire.

Petra i Jordan, sandstens udsmykning

Petra in Jordan, sandstone decoration

After the Roman conquest of the land and a change of trade routes, the city fell in importance until it was abandoned. Europeans had not seen the rosy-colored walls for centuries, until the beginning of the 19th century, when a traveling European in Bedouin costume and specializing in Arabic culture research, the Swiss Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, walked away from a dried up riverbed, a so-called wadi, to a huge pink rock wall, walked around it and, on the other hand, revealed itself what is today called the treasure chamber or in Arabic Al Khazneh. There were no treasures to find, but Petra also served as a burial chamber, and the beginning of the full mapping and understanding of what is today one of the world’s 7 wonders was underway.

It is one of the sights and experiences you have to treat yourself – once in a lifetime.

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