Petra

Two thousand years ago, Petra was a center of trade and culture in the ancient world. The dazzling city in the desert was built as the capital of the Nabataean kingdom. Petra prospered for centuries, even after it was taken over by the Roman empire. Over time, the city became less and less important. In the 1800s, Petra was "rediscovered" by Western explorers. It became one of the most famous ancient sites in the world.

What: capital of the Nabataean kingdom
Where: southwest Jordan in the Middle East
Began: fourth century BC
Ended: seventh century AD
Population: around 20,000 at its height
Known for: commercial center of the ancient world

Image credits: courtesy of Jordan Tourism Board North America.