Petra Cave City

Useful Information

El Khasne, Petra. By Frederic Edwin Church (*1826-✝1900).
Location: Wadi el Araba, 90 km southeast of the Dead Sea. (30°19'22.22"N, 35°26'34.60"E)
Classification: SubterraneaCave Houses
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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312 BC became Catital of the Nabataean civilization.
106 Nabataeans were defeated by the Roman emperor Trajan.
7th century destroyed by the Arabs.
1812 rediscovered by the Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.


Petra Cave City. Public Domain.

Petra is an ancient city, carved out of the red sandstone on the eastern slopes of the Wadi el Arabah (Arabah valley). It was the capital of the Nabataean civilization between 312 BC and 106 AD. At this time the Nabataeans were defeated by the Roman emperor Trajan and the city became unimportant. It was finally destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century. In Europe it was unknown until 1812, when the Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (*1784-✝1817) rediscovered it. Since then the artful city in the middle of the desert was an inspiration for art, literature and even movies. We all remember the scene in the Indiana Jones movie when they follow a narrow gorge on horseback, which opens to the impressive rock cut facade.

The city covers a huge area and consists of a complex maze of irrigated land, irrigation canals, surface and subsurface buildings. There is a sort of city center, which actually does not exist any more, because only ruins of the buildings remain. Almost untouched by time are the impressive facades which the masons of the Nabateans cut into the solid rock face. Some of them are protected by their location in narrow slot canyons from weathering and vandalism.

Petra Cave City Gallery