Petra (1985)
Jordan

Back to index

UNESCO (Paris) 2005. Petra.

Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. 

Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world's most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture. 

  • UNESCO (Paris) 2005. Petra. 
Jordan 1999. Petra, The Cradle of Civilization. Stamp #1 Jordan 1999. Petra, The Cradle of Civilization. Stamp #2 Jordan 1999. Petra, The Cradle of Civilization. Stamp #3
Petra (Greek, “city of rock”), is an ancient city of Arabia, in what is now southwestern Jordan, immediately east of the village of Wadi Musa. The stronghold and treasure city of the Nabataeans, an Arab people, Petra is referred to as Sela in the Bible (see 2 Kings 14:7). It was situated in the land of Edom, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, near the points of intersection of great caravan routes from Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea, from Damascus, from Elath (now Al ‘Aqabah, Jordan) on the Red Sea, and from the Persian Gulf. 
  • Jordan 1974. Camel caravan at sunset. 

Jordan 1974. Camel Caravan at sunset.

Jordan 1995. Souvenir sheet (imperf) with a view of the Ruins of Petra.

From the 4th century BC until the 2nd century AD, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. The Romans conquered it in 106 ad and made it part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. 

The city continued to flourish in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, but later, when the rival city of Palmyra took away most of Petra's trade, the importance of Petra declined. 

It was conquered by the Muslims in the 7th century and captured by the Crusaders in the 12th century; after this moment it gradually fell into ruins. 

  • Jordan 1995. Souvenir sheet (imperf) with a view of the Ruins of Petra. 
The site of the ancient city was rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt. An impregnable fortress, conspicuous both for its great natural beauty and for the magnificence of its monuments, it is approached by a chasm, or ravine, which in some places is only 3.7 m (12 ft) wide and has towering rocky walls. 

Along this ravine are the ancient structures carved out of the walls of solid rock, the most famous of which include the Khaznet Firaoun, a temple also known as the Treasury of the Pharaohs, and a semicircular theater capable of seating about 3000 spectators. 

  • Jordan 1995. The Roman semicircular theater of Petra. 

Jordan 1995. The Roman semicircular theater of Petra.

All along the face of the pink rocks that overlook the valleys are rows of tombs hewn out of the solid stone. The remains of Petra bear eloquent testimony to its former power, wealth, and culture.

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Jordan (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Jordan for further information about the individual properties. 

Back to index


Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus
All Rights Reserved