Virtuoso Insights - June/July 2011 - (Page 12)
What it iS
Fashioned from stone, the ancient city of Petra is Jordan’s most visited attraction and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
What to do there
release your inner indiana Jones as you head through the Siq, a winding, narrow canyon accessible only by foot or on horseback. The Siq suddenly opens to reveal Petra’s wonders, which you’ll want to explore in full. Just beyond the ancient city, you’ll find the stunning desert terrain of Wadi rum, made famous by British army officer T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). Adventures abound, from camelback- and 4x4-tours to climbing, hiking, and even Bedouin camping. To the south of Petra lies the red Sea town of Aqaba, noted for its exceptional beaches and diving, while to the north stands the impressive Crusader castle of Shobak.
Why it’S imPortant
With roots dating back to the sixth century bc , the capital of the nabataean Empire rose to become one of the Middle East’s most important commercial centers. Set at the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra’s temples, tombs, and monuments are miraculously carved from red sandstone cliffs, earning it the moniker, “rose-red City.” Many structures have been lost to time, but the remaining Al-Khazneh, or The Treasury, and Al-Deir Monastery are testaments to its former grandeur. Actually, by the end of the Byzantine Empire, the city itself was lost to the world until 1812, when Swiss traveler Johann Burckhardt revealed its majesty once again. Petra has been featured in a number of stories and films, most notably, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
When to go
Petra enjoys a Mediterranean climate with appealing temperatures in spring (March to May) and autumn (September to november).
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