The History of Petra
In antiquity, Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans, who were nomadic in origin. Around two thousand years ago, they settled in an area corresponding to present-day southern Jordan, southern Israel and northern Saudi-Arabia. Their awe-inspiring capital arose at the desert edge: Petra.
Trade hub and metropolis
Petra quickly became one of the major hubs on the trade routes of the Near East. Here, the cultures and products of the Western world, the Far East and the Near East met. Through trade in incense and spices, the Nabataeans acquired great wealth. Around the beginning of the Christian era, Petra became a flourishing metropolis characterised by its temple facades, elaborate villas and monumental buildings hewn from the red desert rock. The Nabataeans were excellent engineers. They succeeded in providing their desert city with fresh drinking water by means of an ingenious system of canals. In 106 AD Petra was conquered by the Romans. After two devastating earthquakes in 363 and 551 the city lost its supremacy. From that time on, the trade route was overseas. After the Arab conquest in 663, Petra was abandoned and forgotten. It was not until 1812 that its ruins were discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Burckhardt´s information was based on the maps of Dutchman Adriaan Reland.
In 1812 Petra was rediscovered by Swiss explorer and orientalist Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Ever since, Petra has inspired countless travellers, scholars, artists and adventurers. Nowadays the city is visited by around 700.000 tourists every year. In 1985 Petra received UNESCO World Heritage status.
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