Five Reasons to Visit Petra

Yadid Levy / Anzenberger / Redux

Jordan, 2010. Bedouins sitting on top of a cliff looking down to the Treasury (El Khazneh), Petra.

On Aug. 22, 1812, young Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt tricked his way into the lost city of Petra, the forgotten capital of the ancient Nabataean civilization. The formerly nomadic Nabataeans had chosen this site, sheltered within the Shara Mountains of southwestern Jordan, to carve out the hub of their commercial empire, so becoming the pre-eminent merchants of their age. But after the loss of Arabia's main trade routes to the Palmyrans, Roman conquest and a massive earthquake that devastated the city, the last of the Nabataeans withdrew from Petra, and their majestic rock-carved metropolis later fell into decay....