Venture down a narrow gorge between two cliffs towering at 263 feet high and you’ll encounter the Lost City of Petra, Jordan. Petra was mostly unknown to the western world until it was “discovered” in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss traveler. The Nabataeans settled within the rose-colored rocks over 2,000 years ago and the architectural detail of the tombs, temples, sacrificial alters, and obelisks survived for travelers today to marvel at. Though the Nabataeans were conquered by the Romans around 100 AD, the city remained a junction on the silk and spice trade routes, that linked China and India to Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome. Featured as a backdrop for Hollywood’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade like other beautifully preserved temples, the combination of outstanding architectural achievement and the vibrant color of the red mountains made this must-visit place one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
When to go: If you want to capture the best pictures, though they hardly do this city justice, we suggest visiting during the early or mid-morning or late afternoon. At these times, the sunshine enhances the red color of the beautiful rock-carved structures. If you’re looking to really explore the city, it’s nearly impossible to see all 364,000 square meters of this World Heritage Site in one day. Take a few days to look around.
What to do: Archaeologists have discovered 500 surviving buildings, so there will be plenty of history for you to see. The first building you’ll encounter is the Al-Khazneh, a tomb of an important Nabataean king, which is around 100 feet wide and 140 feet tall. There is also a Roman-style theater that could hold 3,000 people. Go more in-depth in the site’s history, culture, and people at the Petra Archaeological Museum and the Petra Nabataean Museum.