Petra Jordan situated on the edge of the Arabian Desert, was the capital of Nabataean empire of King Aretas 1V. Petra means stone in Greek has survived through the centuries because all the buildings were constructed out of solid rock. It is also known as the lost city of Jordan. The city is very different and is absolute delight towatch for people interested in ancient history and architecture. It is carved out of rocks by the Nabataeans.UNESCO has declared Petra an archaeological site in Jordan on the slopes of Mount Hor a World Heritage Site. Petra is famous for its stone structures carved into rock. UNESCO describes Petra as "the one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage.
Petra Jordan was very advantageously located as it was surrounded by towering rocks and there was a perennial source of water. Petra Jordan also controlled the main commercial route. Thus Petra Jordan flourished and produced many monumental structures. Petra is situated on the edge of Wadi Araba, which is a part of the Great Rift Valley. Petra Jordan is situated in deep gorge the access to Petra is through Siq, a narrow winding valley which opens up to Petra's monuments 'Al-Khaneh' which means 'treasury'. This great monument remains only as memories in the form of pictures and photographs. The interiors of the monument are a visual treat to the eyes. The intricate carving leaves visitors spellbound. Legends say that pirates used to hide their loot in there hence the name. It was actually a royal tomb carved out of mountains and 40 mts high.
Dushara was the main God of Petra. He was worshipped in the form of a black rectangular stone along with Alat, who was the Goddess of worship. There were many worshipping sites in Petra Jordan. The city has hundreds of temples; rock cut tombs, funeral halls and above all the tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses. There are donkeys to climb up to the monastery which the locals refer to as taxi. The High place of sacrifice is also one of the major tourist attractions of the place.
Though Petra Jordan was a religious city, it was also known as the City of Tombs, as there was extensively large number of tombs. The inscriptions on the tombs were made by Nabataean sculptors. Along with temples and burial grounds there were also theatres, public buildings, and monumental gates. People who maintained Petra like priests, gravediggers, sculptors, service people who ran business like food, water all lived in this historical city. Roughly Petra had a population of 20,000 to 30,000 people. It is said that earlier the people of Nabataea lived like nomads in tents and it was in the latter part of century that they started building houses. So it was but natural that the tents would be clustered around the public places.
Petra Jordan was in grave danger of destruction both naturally and by man in form of uncontrolled urban development and inflow of tourists. Hence UNESCO has swung into action to protect the city from further damage by preparing a detailed report about the actions to be taken and presented it to the Jordanian authorities. The proposals put forth have been to restore the historical monuments, control the inflow of tourists, involve the local people, set up of a committee, controlling floods. The UNESCO and Jordanian authorities have a Herculean task before them to accomplish in conserving and restoring this historically and culturally rich city of Petra.