- Stops on the
- Al Uyaynah
- Northern Desert Trek
- Southern Desert Trek
- Further Information
- The Incense Sea Route
- For a complete tour of Petra visit
our special PETRA SITE
Petra is the best known of all of the Nabataean cities. Today
thousands of tourists visit this site and stare in awe at the
huge funerary monuments. While there are over 1000 monuments
in Petra, there is no record of who made most of them. In the
Nabataean city of Egra however, there are many monuments made
for upper class family, and many are signed by the artists. They
called themselves 'Amana,' in the detailed inscriptions on the
facades of almost half of the monuments. It is interesting to
notice that the builders of the monuments were most probably
Nabataeans, not imported laborers.
Some historians believe that at least once a year, and
most probably twice a year, Petra held a huge festival. During
this time, Petra needed to accommodate the many thousands of
Nabataean pilgrims that made their way to their city. While no
one knows how many people came at any one time, we can deduce
the names of many of the pilgrims who wrote their names on rocks
and canyon walls during their pilgrimage.
Some people believe that at its height, Petra would
have had a population of 20,000 - 30,000 people. Others believe
that Petra was mostly a city of the dead and religious ceremonies.
Certainly, it was a huge religious center, with several temples,
as well as a festival theater, a nymphaeum, a bathhouse, a sacred
way, a monumental gate, pools, and several other pubic buildings.
These temples and other public buildings occupied the central
valley, where the Royal Tombs were situated. Later a number of
churches were built in Petra. Three of these have been excavated
and are close together on the north slope above the colonnaded
The citizens of Petra lived in crowded conditions, in houses
bunched on the north and south slopes above the colonnade street.
Many of these people would have been grave diggers, monument
sculptors, temple attendants, and others involved in service
trades. Initially the city also contained the Royal family and
members of the ruling class, at least until the capital was moved
to Bostra in the north.
Photo by Silvija Seres, 2002. Used with Permission.
Please visit her travel site (http://www.silvija.net)
During the festival some historians feel that the pilgrims
visited the graves of their ancestors and ate or drank something
in remembrance of the dead. You can read more about the Nabataean
people through the links below.