The rose-red city of Petra (web only)


| May 15, 2020

More than 2,000 years ago, Petra was used as a temporary refuge by nomadic Nabataean Arabs – Bedouins – who came north out of Arabia. Starting with only a few caves, they carved the sandstone to create this awe-inspiring fortress city. The dramatic rise of Petra was mainly due to its strategic location astride one of the most important trading routes of the ancient world, the caravan trail from Yemen to Syria. Goods from all over the known world passed through Petra, but it was frankincense that made the city rich. Burned in huge quantities on alters of the ancient world, frankincense was valued more highly than gold. By controlling the trading routes to Yemen, the sole source of frankincense production, Petra was able to maintain a monopoly on the world frankincense supply. With the great wealth generated from their trading enterprises, the Nabataeans embellished their capital with grand and imposing buildings and monuments. These buildings carved into the red rock are remarkably well preserved and are among the world's foremost surviving examples of Roman period architecture. Walk down through the ‘Siq’ – a huge crack in the Nubian sandstone – to reach el Khazneh, the Treasury, and the city beyond. A lost city for one thousand years, Petra was not fully uncovered until 1958.

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