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Petra Jordon in early morning light
The Treasury Petra, Jordon Photographed in the early morning light by Harvey M. Deutch. Despite the apparent beauty, Petra defies photographs.

Feature Photo: The Treasury

Petra, the “rose-red city, half as old as time.”

Editor’s Note: This photo of The Treasury in Petra, Jordon was our very first feature photo in October 1999. Wow! Back then, we used to post one picture a month, but now with the invention of social media, everyone can share their own images easily. We’ve saved a few of our favorites for posterity. Here’s one. Learn more about our original film photographs.)

About Petra.

Then entrance to the Treasury is hidden behind what appears to be a crack in wall, but is a narrow canyon path.
Approaching the hidden entrance of The Treasury in Petra, Jordan.

Petra, the “rose-red city, half as old as time,” was lost to civilization until discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer, in 1812. Now Jordan’s main tourist attraction, Petra was originally carved out of the whorling-red sandstone between 800 BC and 100 AD by the Nabataean Arabs and flourished as a hub for the trade routes between the Mediterranean and Asia. The grandeur of Petra’s 800 monuments defies photographs and descriptions making it a must-see for world travelers.

It flourished for over 400 years around the time of Rome and Christ, until it was occupied by the Roman legions of the emperor Trajan in 106 A.D.

Petra covers an area of about 100 square km and the Petra basin boasts over 800 individual monuments that were mostly carved from the kaleidoscopic sandstone by the technical and artistic genius of the Nabataeans. The wealth and political power of these indigenous Arab people derived from their control of the international trade routes that linked China, India and Southern Arabia with the wealthy Mediterranean markets such as; Anatolia, Greece, Rome, Egypt and Syria.  

When caravan routes were slowly displaced by shipping, the city’s importance gradually dwindled; it fell into disuse and was lost to the world until 1812 when it was rediscovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Nowadays Petra is Jordan’s #1 tourist attraction.

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