Sean Hall concludes his series on the Seven Wonders of the World with the ancient city of Petra


The city of Petra in the modern boundaries of Jordan lies as a Wonder of the World because it is one of the oldest cities in the world, believed to be have been settled as early as 11,000 years ago. It developed from an ordinary village into a caravan city, as a crossroads between the Red and Dead Seas by the time of Alexander the Great.

The city should be well-known to readers for being the site of the Holy Grail, in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The nomadic Nabataean Kingdom is believed to have had Petra as its capital.
At its time it was the most multicultural city, with Indian spices and Chinese silks being sold in the markets by natives of those lands along with Roman crops and Greek scrolls.

Traders from all over Eurasia and North Africa arrived in Petra to trade during that period. The city has withstood the test of time, its temples and buildings surviving the fall of the Roman and Byzantine empires.

One of the main reasons for it being a wonder, is the display of both Hellenistic (Greek and Roman) architecture, as shown by the Corinthian Tomb with the traditional Khasneh built by the Arabs.
The temples are constructed into the side of cliff walls in the Arabah Valley, which allowed access to the buildings through a natural rock cleft called the Siq, which stands at a height of 80m and a length of 1200m.

The remains of settlements such as the Neolithic Beidha are in close proximity, meaning that Petra is the richest archaeological site in the world, since it goes from the Stone Age to the medieval period in terms of well-preserved historic finds.

A mosque at Jebel Haroun in Petra has been revered as the burial site of Aaron, brother of Moses and the first Rabbi in Judeo-Christian belief.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own