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Extended Travel: Petra, Jordan

El Deir, Petra by David Roberts

El Deir, Petra by David Roberts

Instantly recognizable as the home of the Holy Grail from the third Indiana Jones installment, Petra holds much more history than merely a cinematic one.

Named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC until 106 AD when it was taken over by the Romans. Even under Roman rule, the city flourished and continued to expand until an earthquake around 663 AD destroyed many building and the water management system, which in the desert was vital. In 1189, Saladin conquered the Middle East and Petra was abandoned and all knowledge of it was lost to Western travelers.
It was not until 1812 when the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt infiltrated the city, which was occupied by Bedouins, that the city once more became a destination. Since then, it has become Jordan’s largest tourist attraction, which director Steven Spielberg played no small part in by including the city in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Visitors can see the entire Petra site in a long day but there are a few options for spending the night at the archaeological hotspot including the opportunity to spend the night in a Bedouin camp. No cars are allowed in the city, the only allowable form of transportation is your own two feet and by camel, donkey or horse, all of which are available to rent.
Petra is 3 and a half hours by car from the capital of Jordan, Amman. Tour buses regularly leave the city for Petra from here but also Aqaba on the Red Sea and Eilat in Israel.

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