No visit of Jordan will be complete without having seen the capital of the ancient Nabatean kingdom. The long-lost city of Petra, carved entirely by man into the rose-red sandstone rocks, puts your imagination to the test. It's a mystic and glorious place, an eternal tribute to a lost civilization.

Petra was the central meeting point of the Nabatean spice routes which originated from the Persian Gulf, Western Arabia and the Red Sea. About two thousand years ago Petra became the capital of the Nabatean empire. The city was so renowned that one of its kings, Aretas IV, is even mentioned in the Bible (2 Corinthians 1132).

The natural richness of the mountainous area combines in a superb way with the refined culture and massive architecture of the Nabateans, who carved their theatre, temples, façades, tombs, monasteries, houses and roads entirely into the rose-red sandstone rocks. No wonder Unesco placed Petra on its World Heritage List. Because of its beauty and the mysticism surrounding it, through the ages Petra has attracted many writers and painters. The great Scottish artist David Roberts dedicated a series of lithographs to Petra.

One enters Petra by passing the Siq, a small and deep narrow gorge, at the end of which all of a sudden dramatically appears the most famous monument of Petra al-Khazneh or the Treasury. Maybe you will recognize it as the stage of the final sequence in the movie 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'.

But the Treasury is just the start. Walking and climbing in Petra hundreds of buildings carved in stone and eroded through the centuries into fabulous multi-coloured walls will be revealed to you.

Local tradition says the spring of Wadi Mousa, the 'valley of Moses', at Petra is where Moses struck the rock with his rod twice and brought forth water (Numbers 2010-12). Petra also hosts the shrine commemorating the death of Aaron (Haroun in Arabic), the brother of Moses.

From the Monastery, Ad-Deir, you will have a splendid view over Wadi Araba. And after a long and steep climb you may visit the High Place of Sacrifice and see the obelisks which are believed to represent the most important Nabatean gods, Dushara and Al 'Uzza.

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