Petra Jordan BW 21.JPG
Tourists in front of Al Khazneh (The Treasury) at Petra
LocationMa'an Governorate, Jordan
Coordinates30°19′43″N 35°26′31″E / 30°19′43″N 35°26′31″E / 30.32861; 35.44194
Petra is located in Jordan
Location of Petra
Raqmu in Jordan
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Inscription1985 (9th Session)

Petra (Arabic: ٱلْبَتْرَاء‎, translit. Al-Batrāʾ; Ancient Greek: Πέτρα), originally known to its inhabitants as 'Raqmu', is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies on the slope of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.[3] Petra is believed to have been settled as early as 9,000 BC, and it was possibly established in the 4th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra's proximity to the trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.[4]

The trading business gained the Nabataeans considerable revenue and Petra became the focus of their wealth. The earliest historical reference to Petra was an attack to the city ordered by Antigonus I in 312 BC recorded by various Greek historians. The Nabataeans were, unlike their enemies, accustomed to living in the barren deserts, and were able to repel attacks by utilizing the area's mountainous terrain. They were particularly skillful in harvesting rainwater, agriculture and stone carving. Petra flourished in the 1st century AD when its famous Khazneh structure – believed to be the mausoleum of Nabataean King Aretas IV – was constructed, and its population peaked at an estimated 20,000 inhabitants.[5]

Although the Nabataean Kingdom became a client state for the Roman Empire in the first century BC, it was only in 106 AD that they lost their independence. Petra fell to the Romans, who annexed and renamed Nabataea to Arabia Petraea. Petra's importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after a 363 earthquake destroyed many structures. The Byzantine Era witnessed the construction of several Christian churches, but the city continued to decline, and by the early Islamic era became an abandoned place where only a handful of nomads lived. It remained unknown to the world until it was rediscovered in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.[6]

The city is accessed through a 1.2-kilometre-long (0.75 mi) gorge called the Siq, which leads directly to the Khazneh. Famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system, Petra is also called the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.[7] It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. UNESCO has described it as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage".[8] In 2007, Al-Khazneh was voted in as one of the New7Wonders of the World. Petra is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan's most-visited tourist attraction. Tourist numbers peaked at 1 million in 2010; the following period witnessed a slump due to instability around Jordan. However, tourist numbers have picked up recently, and around 800,000 tourists visited the site in 2018.

The city is commonly and inescapably known by the phrase from the line in John Burgon's 1845 poem entitled "Petra",
"A rose-red city half as old as time"


Map of Petra
The narrow passage (Siq) that leads to Petra

Pliny the Elder and other writers identify Petra as the capital of the Tadeanos and the center of their caravan trade. Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra not only possessed the advantages of a fortress, but controlled the main commercial routes which passed through it to Gaza in the west, to Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and Leuce Come on the Red Sea, and across the desert to the Persian Gulf.[3]

Excavations have demonstrated that it was the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that led to the rise of the desert city, creating an artificial oasis. The area is visited by flash floods, and archaeological evidence demonstrates the Nabataeans controlled these floods by the use of dams, cisterns and water conduits. These innovations stored water for prolonged periods of drought and enabled the city to prosper from its sale.[9][10]

In ancient times, Petra might have been approached from the south on a track leading across the plain of Petra, around Jabal Haroun ("Aaron's Mountain"), the location of the Tomb of Aaron, said to be the burial-place of Aaron, brother of Moses. Another approach was possibly from the high plateau to the north. Today, most modern visitors approach the site from the east. The impressive eastern entrance leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge (in places only 3–4 m (9.8–13.1 ft) wide) called the Siq ("the shaft"), a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks and serving as a waterway flowing into Wadi Musa. At the end of the narrow gorge stands Petra's most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh (popularly known as and meaning "the Treasury"), hewn into the sandstone cliff. While remaining in remarkably preserved condition, the face of the structure is marked by hundreds of bullet holes made by the local Bedouin tribes that hoped to dislodge riches that were once rumored to be hidden within it.[11]

A little further from the Treasury, at the foot of the mountain called en-Nejr, is a massive theatre, positioned so as to bring the greatest number of tombs within view. At the point where the valley opens out into the plain, the site of the city is revealed with striking effect. The theatre has been cut into the hillside and into several of the tombs during its construction. Rectangular gaps in the seating are still visible. Almost enclosing it on three sides are rose-colored mountain walls, divided into groups by deep fissures and lined with knobs cut from the rock in the form of towers.[3]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Petra
አማርኛ: ጴጥራ
العربية: البتراء
asturianu: Petra
azərbaycanca: Petra
تۆرکجه: پترا
বাংলা: পেত্রা
башҡортса: Петра
беларуская: Петра
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Пэтра
български: Петра
bosanski: Petra
čeština: Petra (město)
dansk: Petra (by)
ދިވެހިބަސް: ޕެޓްރާ
eesti: Petra
español: Petra
Esperanto: Petra
euskara: Petra
فارسی: پترا
français: Pétra
Gaeilge: Petra
galego: Petra
ગુજરાતી: પેટ્રા
한국어: 페트라
հայերեն: Պետրա
हिन्दी: पेत्रा
hrvatski: Petra
Bahasa Indonesia: Petra
íslenska: Petra (borg)
עברית: פטרה
Basa Jawa: Petra
Kabɩyɛ: Peetiraa
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಪೆಟ್ರಾ
қазақша: Петра
kurdî: Petra
latviešu: Petra
lietuvių: Petra
македонски: Петра
മലയാളം: പെട്ര
मराठी: पेट्रा
მარგალური: პეტრა (იორდანია)
مصرى: بيترا
Bahasa Melayu: Petra
монгол: Петра
नेपाली: पेत्रा
日本語: ペトラ
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪੇਤਰਾ
پښتو: پټرا
português: Petra
Runa Simi: Petra
русский: Петра
Scots: Petra
Simple English: Petra
slovenčina: Petra (Jordánsko)
slovenščina: Petra (Jordanija)
српски / srpski: Petra
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Petra
svenska: Petra (stad)
தமிழ்: பெட்ரா
తెలుగు: పెట్రా
ไทย: เปตรา
Türkçe: Petra
українська: Петра
اردو: بترا
Tiếng Việt: Petra
Winaray: Petra
Zeêuws: Petra
中文: 佩特拉