Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00

Petra

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Petra is a highlight not just of Jordan but of the entire Middle East, a sublime and mysterious city that sits as an incomparable jewel of ancient architecture. Petra was once an important stop on a Roman trading route, but was only assimilated into the empire in 106 AD. Until then it had been a stronghold of the Nabataen Arab kingdom, whose knowledge of Greek architectural styles is reflected in their astonishing cliff-bound monuments. Today Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Approaching through the long, narrow chasm, or Siq, you come face to face with the graceful columns of the magnificent Treasury, Petra’s most-photographed building. Like almost all structures here, it wasn’t built but rather carved out of the pink-hued rock, which means the interiors are usually modest in comparison with their grand facades. Further sights at ground level include an 8,000-seat amphitheater, numerous tombs and the triumphal arch of the Temenos Gateway.
 
Climb to higher ground and you'll find an open-air site of ritualistic sacrifices, the huge Monastery and the Triclinium, or Feast Hall, which has the best of Petra's few surviving decorated interiors.

 

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