Petra, World Heritage Site in Jordan - Petra is a historical and archaeological city south of Jordan, located around Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin surrounded by mountains that form the eastern side Arabah valley stretching from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

Access to the city is via a 1.2 kilometer (0.75 mile) long canyon called the Siq, which leads directly to Khazneh. Famous for its stone-cut architecture and plumbing system, Petra is also called the 'City of Roses' because color stones it carves.

Petra was originally known as Raqmu or the city of Rose which is an ancient region in Jordan. The city, which was founded around 312 BC, also served as the capital Arab Nabeteans.

The area around Petra has been inhabited since as early as 7000 BC, and the Nabataeans may have settled in what would become the capital of their kingdom in the early 4th century BC. However, archaeologists have only found evidence of a Nabataean presence in the second century BC when Petra was their capital.

The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra which was close to trade routes and made it a major regional trading center.

Although the Nabataean empire became a client state of the Roman Empire in the first century BC, it was not until AD 106 that the kingdom lost its independence. Petra fell to the Romans, who annexed Nabataea and renamed it Arabia Petraea.

Petra's interests declined as the sea trade route emerged, and after the earthquake of 363 destroyed many buildings. In the Byzantine era several Christian churches were built, but the city continued to decline, and by the beginning of the Islamic era it was abandoned except for a handful of nomads.

However, this place remained unknown to the world until it was rediscovered in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt with several explorers from Switzerland.

In 1985, Petra became a UNESCO world heritage site and annually visited by millions of tourists. UNESCO declares Petra as one most valuable cultural properties of human cultural heritage.

In 2007, Al-Khazneh was selected as one New7Wonders of the World and Smithsonian Magazine ranked the city as one of 28 must-see spots before dying. (PTR-IN/*)


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