Petra is an ancient city, almost entirely cut out of mountain rocks and watered by a stream, which flourished as a major center of commerce in the west of the Arabian Desert. John William Burgon described it as “a rose-red city half as old as time”. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”.
The ancient city of Petra was established before 300 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans. It flourished as a major trade center west to the Arabian Desert for centuries, reaching its zenith by around 40 AD. It controlled the trading routes to Gaza in the west, Damascus in the north, to Aqueba and the Red Sea and to the Persian Gulf. Almost entirely cut out of mountain rocks, watered by a stream, the city was prosperous and had magnificent buildings the most remarkable of which are the Treasury, a massive theater, and the tombs and churches. The innovative water harvesting of the Nabataeans allowed the city to withstand long stretches of drought and it even profited from the sale of water.
The fortunes of Petra declined during the Roman rule, mainly because of the establishment of sea trade links. An earthquake in 363 AD destroyed many of the buildings and also crippled the water supply of the city, thus speeding up its decline. Petra remained unknown to the outside world until 1812 AD, when it was ‘discovered’ by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. In 1917, Lawrence of Arabia started a revolt against the Ottoman empire with the help of the Bedouins living near Petra and was able to defeat the Ottoman Army.
While travelling to Petra, the following information would be useful:
JETT Buses – Amman to Petra
|Fare||~19 JD (round trip)|
|Timing||6:30 AM from Amman|
|4:00 Pm from Petra|
Public Mini buses
|Wadi Musa(Petra) – Ma’am – Amman||Fare||~2.10 JD|
|Aqaba to Wadi Musa(Petra)||Fare||~5JD; then take a taxi for 1-2 JD|
|Wadi Rum – Petra||Fare||5 JD|
|Aqaba – Eilat – Wadi Musa||Fare||~5 JD (round trip)|
|Amman – Petra – Amman(with 6 hrs wait)||Fare||~70 JD (bargain here!)|
|Aqaba – Petra – Aqaba||Fare||~45 – 50 JD|
Photo Courtesy – Salim Al Harthy