Petra

Petra

Petra is famously described as "a rose-red city half as old as time". A spectacular and unique sight, its massive buildings are carved directly into the sandstone cliffs. Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra controlled the ancient commercial routes across the desert to the Persian Gulf. The impressive eastern entrance leads steeply down through a dark and narrow gorge called the Siq (the shaft), a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks. It opens directly onto Petra's most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh ("the Treasury") hewn directly out of the sandstone cliff. A little farther from the Treasury is a massive theatre, so placed as to bring the greatest number of tombs within view; and at the point where the valley opens out into the plain the site of the city is revealed with striking effect. Almost enclosing it on three sides are rose-coloured mountain walls, divided into groups by deep fissures, and lined with tombs cut from the rock in the form of towers.

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Petra