City of Petra: The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jordan

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Petra, in Jordan, is a historical and archaeological city. The city is located around Jabal Al-Madbah, in a basin which is encircled by mountains.

The area which surrounds Petra was originally home to the Nabataeans, who were nomadic Arabs. Petra was a convenient area to live and work in due to its efficient accessibility to trade routes, and the area was established as a key point of regional trading. The Nabataeans were successful in business and they invested considerably into the city. They lived in barren deserts and they were very successful in agriculture and stone-carving.

Excavations showed that the Nabateans were able to control their water supply effectively. Archaeologists also found that the Nabataeans controlled flooding through the use of water dams and other similar strategies. The strategies helped them through times of difficulty such as drought.

In the city centre, there is the Petra Pool and Garden Complex, which is a series of structures. Excavations of the site have found that it was originally an extravagant Nabataean garden. The garden had an island-pavilion and an intricate hydraulic system.

The entrance to the city of Petra is via an approximately kilometre-long gorge, labelled ‘Siq’. Siq – meaning shaft – is a natural feature that is formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks, creating a waterway which leads into the town of Wadi Musa.

The gorge, in certain parts, is only approximately three metres in width. Visitors now mainly access the site from the east and the gorge leads to Al-Khazneh (meaning ‘The Treasury’). Al-Khazneh is Petra’s most elaborate ruin, and it is carved into a sandstone cliff.

Abbasid Bedouin tribes had once tried to break through the structure of Al-Khazneh in order to reach riches that were rumoured to be within the structure. Aside from that, the structure has remained in noticeably preserved condition.

There is a vast theatre by the En-Nejr mountain, which is near Al-Khazneh. The theatre was built into the hillside and rose-coloured walls of the mountains surround the theatre. Petra has also been given the name ‘Rose City’ due to it’s rose-coloured stone structures.

Petra is known for it’s rock-cut architecture and water conduit system, and the city is known to be Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction.

The city has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. The Bidouls (one of the Bedouin tribes in Petra) were included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List 2005 for their heritage and traditional skills.

The Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority planned city-development strategies in 2011. The strategies aimed to benefit the local population as well as the country as a whole. The plan was said to take into account socio-economic factors, Petra Archaeological Park, tourism, and the environment.

The climate in Petra sees most of the rainfall during the winter season, and an annual precipitation of approximately 193 mm. The city of Petra has an average annual temperature of 15.5°C.