Inhabited for thousands of years, the strikingly beautiful desert city of Petra, Jordan was once home to a civilization long since vanished. Petra's location between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea made it an important center for commerce, where Arabian incense, Chinese silks, and Indian spices were traded. The buildings reflect a welcoming of cultures, combining native Eastern traditions with Western Classical (850 BC-476 AD) architecture from Hellenistic Greece. Noted by UNESCO as "half-built, half-carved into the rock," this capital city also had a sophisticated system of dams and channels for collecting, diverting, and providing water to the arid region.
Petra, Jordan was lost to the Western World from about the 14th century until the early 19th century. Today, the ancient city is one of the world's largest and most important archaeological sites. It has been an inscribed property of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre since 1985. In 2007, Petra was also named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.