Petra, originally known to its inhabitants as Raqmu or Raqēmō is a historic and archaeological city in southern Jordan. It is adjacent to the mountain of Jabal Al-Madbah, in a basin surrounded by mountains forming the eastern flank of the Arabah valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. The area around Petra has been inhabited from as early as 7000 BC, and the Nabataeans might have settled in what would become the capital city of their kingdom as early as the 4th century BC.
Archaeological work has only discovered evidence of Nabataean presence dating back to the second century BC, by which time Petra had become their capital. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra’s proximity to the incense trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.
Access to the city is through a 1.2-kilometer-long (3⁄4 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” because of the color of the stone from which it is carved.
It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. UNESCO has described Petra as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. In 2007, Al-Khazneh was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Petra is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction.
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