Petra, meaning Rock, was the capital city of the Nabataeans, a tribe of pre-Roman Arabs who dominated the region around the Sixth century BC. Located at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, the city survived on toll and taxes collected from traders. Despite several attempts to conquer their capital, the Nabataeans remained practically independent until the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra and the reunification of the Roman Empire by Octavian in 31 BC. In 106, the Romans under Trajan finally captured Petra to mark the beginning of the decline of the city. The city remained unknown to the Western World for hundreds of years until a Swiss explorer, J.L. Burckhardt, heard about its existence from the local Bedouins in 1812.
The Nabataeans carved their Capital in the canyons and hills of sandstone of Wadi Araba in Jordan. The entrance to the city is through The Alley (Al-Siq), a winding trail at the bottom of the canyon. Most famous is The Treasury (Al Khazneh), which fascinating fašade was featured in many movies. Carved in the pink sandstone, the structure is 40 m high and about 30x30 m wide. Its architecture has been certainly strongly influenced by the Romans, which suggests it was built around the First century AD. The city includes other fascinating monuments and structures, such as Urn Tomb and the Royal Tombs, the Colonnade Street, the Temples of Dushara and Al-Uzza, and the High Place of Sacrifice.