Explore the New 7 Wonders: Petra

May 12, 2011
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The New 7 Wonders of the World began as a global campaign to recognize human achievement and protect the planet's man-made wonders. After more than 100 million people around the world cast their vote, the rose-red city of Petra, Jordan has been recognized as one of man’s greatest accomplishments.

Petra was hewn by the once-nomadic Nabataeans into dramatic cliffs and rock colored with countless geologic shades and swirls. After walking down the winding, narrow “siq” approaching the city, you can’t help but think that the city’s designers wanted to use the carved city to inspire awe in their visitors. In this valley, the traditions of the desert blend with Hellenistic architecture. The city is surrounded by mountains that are full of passages, temples and tombs. Flights of stairs were even carved into the soft sandstone, providing paths for the inhabitants to climb to high places of worship.

Petra was lost to the Western world after a change in Roman trade routes led to the city’s decline. In 1812, Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt secretly sketched the route his Bedouin guide used when leading him into the ancient canyons in southern Jordan. Burckhardt is also credited with rediscovering Abu Simbel in Egypt and being the first European to visit Mecca.

Ready to Go? You can combine a visit to Petra with explorations of Egypt, a Nile cruise and more of history’s great “must sees” during International Expeditions’ Wings Over the Nile journey. Watch an online survey of Egypt and Jordan led by IE’s Bill Robison, who spent more than a decade leading and organizing tours to Egypt.