Visiting Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world

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Visiting Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world
Visiting Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world

Africa-Press – Liberia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, Petra – a city that is an important archeologic site and Jordan’s biggest tourist attraction – is described as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Famous for its rock-cut architecture, Petra is referred to as the “Rose City” because of the colour of the stones used in its buildings.

This week I had the opportunity to visit Petra, an ancient Jordanian city carved out of rock cliffs. It stands out as one of the seven wonders of the world, and is visited by over a million tourists per year, thanks to its rich archeological features. Built in the 3rd century BC by the Nabataeans, an ancient Arab people who inhabited northern Arabia and the southern Levant, the spectacular city is situated in Southern Jordan, more than 250 kilometres away from the capital, Amman.

Making our way to the place, we had to go through the Siq, a vast 200-metres-long canyon, naturally made of high red rocks, which for some part of the journey, block the sunlight from reaching your skin.

After a few minutes’ drive in small electric cars, we arrived at the Treasury, a 39-metres-high building which is one of the most elaborate rock-cut structures in Petra.

Designed with Roman style pillars, carvings of ancient Greek gods, and other artistic features, the original purpose for which the structure was carved is debatable. Our Jordanian tour guide, Abdallah, tells us that it is called the Treasury since some archeologists think it was where ancient Nabataeans kings stored their gold. However, he also pointed out that there is evidence that it was just a tomb for kings. Some researchers even think it was a temple.

Besides the unclear nature of the building’s purpose, another issue of interest is how ancient people actually managed to establish such a structure.

Interestingly, without elaborating much, Abdallah says they carved it starting from top to bottom, not from bottom-up, as most buildings are built.

The builders not only carved the outside but also the inside, making some rooms, though we were not allowed to enter. Such restrictions are part of efforts to protect the area, to maintain it as one of the touristic places that are unchanged within the country.

In addition to that, some archeological endeavours to carry out excavations in the place are limited, a factor that makes it less explored.

Abdallah says only about 30 percent of the entire Petra site has been explored.

Some say Petra deserves two days to be seen properly. Besides being a vast place that requires a few hours to be explored, it needs many explanations due to the history that it entails.

The writer poses for a picture in front of the Treasury alongside a Jordanian national.

Some of the rocks that made up the legendary Siq canyon that leads to Petra ancient city.

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