Given the popularity among foreign visitors today, it’s hard to believe Petra remained forgotten by the outside world until 1812, when it was re-discovered by a Swiss explorer. Imagine Johann Burckhardt’s emotions when, after being led down the twisting, narrow defile deep in the desert, he first set eyes on the finely sculpted tombs and temples of the Nabataean kings who ruled here in the 3rd century BC. 

Hollowed by hand from the sandstone cliffs, the structures were badly damaged by an earthquake in Roman times, and later squatted by local Bedouins, whose descendants nowadays ferry visitors to the site by camel. The real highlight of visits today is the Night Walk, when you can savour the Treasury’s ancient stonework by the light of flickering flames.

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