The lost city of Petra, located in Jordan, is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. This mysterious place still has numerous secrets hidden, just waiting to be discovered. The city was long forgotten until 1812 when it was re-discovered by the first European, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer, who disguised himself as bedouin and asked local people to take him there. It is believed today that this area was inhabited more than 9000 years ago, as it was shown by latest archeological excavations.
The name of the city, Petra, is derived from Greek word for stone. This is no accident- the whole city was carved inside red-pink sandstone rocks. Hundreds of houses, tombs, temples, obelisks, sacrificing altars and a theater for more than 3000 people are integral parts of the city. Still, it is estimated that these discoveries make only 15% of the city and that the remaining 85% are yet to be found.
The entrance to Petra is about 1-kilometer long path carved through the rocks. In some parts, the path between the cliffs is narrow that only two persons can pass at the same time. The first part of the city that is seen after 1km is the Treasury. Depending on the time of the day and amount of sunlight, the Treasury appears to have a different shade of pink, orange, and other colors. Throughout the history, Petra was home to different cultures. The first ones were Edomites, followed by the Nabateans. During their reign, Petra became the capital of the kingdom and an important trading center of routes for many goods of the time- precious materials and stones, spices and other. Their key discovery was irrigation system, allowing about 30,000 people to survive extreme temperatures and lack of water in the dessert. The decay of the city started with a rise of Rome, and it was aided with numerous earthquakes, present still today. The Dead Sea, located near, also affects the city with constant salty winds, eroding the stones.
There is a certain aspect of the importance of Petra for Christianity. It is believed that somewhere near this area, Moses struck a rock, bringing water to the Israelites escaping Egypt. Today, there are traces of Byzantine church here. In western culture, Petra is famous for several scenes from 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusader, with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. The Treasury of Petra was used for their quest for Holy Grail, through the labyrinth and many obstacles. In reality, the Treasury is a single hall, used as a tomb.
A special tribute concert was held in Petra in 2008 in the honor of late Luciano Pavarotti. The famous tenor always expressed his desire to perform at Petra; several famous singers including Bono and Celine Dion sang at this event.
The city was declared as UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1985. Since 2007, Petra of Jordan is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, together with Chichen Itza, Christ the Redeemer, Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, Taj Mahal and Colosseum of Rome.