Visit the majestic city of Petra, located just east of Israel's southern Arava planes, to see one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and learn about its history and geography. Although the city is situated over the Jordanian border, its proximity to the border crossing near the Gulf of Eilat make it worth taking a day to see this impressive site.
The city of Petra was carved into the mountains by the Nabateans more than 2,000 years ago. The Nabateans were a loosely connected ancient people who inhabited the Middle East a few hundred years before the Common Era. They were primarily traders and farmers and were experts in creating water irrigation systems in the region's dry climate.
Enter the ancient city by foot and traverse the Siq, the main road that winds through the sandstone canyon. The walls surrounding the Siq are decorated with carvings and intricate patterns. The huge Petra Treasury is nearly 100 feet wide and 150 feet high and carved out of sandstone. Also impressive are the 500 empty royal tombs and the large Roman theater. The largest carved monument here is the Ad-Deir Monastery, which is truly magnificent but requires you to climb up 800 rock steps.
The ruins of Petra were a source of legends for many centuries but also vulnerable to looting and natural erosion. The fascinating history of this unique city is told in Petra's museum, where artifacts such as bronze statues, pottery, coins, lamps and jewelry are on display. Find out why UNESCO has named Petra a World Heritage Site and what the organization is doing to preserve it for future generations.