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The “Rose City” is a honeycomb of hand-hewn caves, temples, and tombs carved from blushing pink sandstone in the high desert of Jordan some 2,000 years ago. Hidden by time and shifting sand, Petra tells of a lost civilization. Little is known about the Nabateans—a nomadic desert people whose kingdom rose up from these cliffs and peaks, and whose incredible wealth grew from the lucrative incense trade.

Raqmu, or Petra (as the Greeks knew it), grew into the Nabateans’ most prominent city, linking camel caravans between the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas, from Egypt to Syria and beyond to Greece. Control of water sources and an almost magic ability to vanish into the cleft rocks ensured the Nabateans remained unconquered for centuries.

The Romans arrived in 63 B.C., signaling a new era of massive expansion and grandiose construction, like the theater that sat more than 6,000 spectators, as well as some of the city’s most impressive facades. Carved into the rock face, the Treasury and the Monastery both have unmistakable Hellenistic features, with ornate Corinthian columns, bas-relief Amazons, and fanciful acroteria. Knowing that such architectural feats were achieved by carving from the top down makes it even more impressive.

originally known to its inhabitants in Nabataean Aramaic as ̢𐢚𐢛𐢓𐢈 rqmw Raqēmō is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies around Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin surrounded by mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs 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 However, archaeological work has only discovered evidence of Nabataean presence dating back to the second century BCby which time Petra had become their capitalThe Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra’s proximity to the trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.

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