A world wonder, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Jordan’s most valuable treasure, Petra is Jordan’s greatest tourist attraction. It is a vast and unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab civilization, who settled here more than 2000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India, and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome.
The Nabataean Kingdom existed for centuries, and Petra became widely admired for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels. Ultimately, however, the Roman Emperor Trajan annexed the Kingdom. By the 14th century, Petra was completely lost to the West, and so it remained for almost 300 years. Then in 1812, a Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, persuaded his guide to take him to the site of the rumored lost city. Secretly making notes and sketches, he wrote: “It seems very probable that the ruins at Wadi Musa are those of the ancient Petra.”