A rose-red city, half as old as time! These words describe the ancient, ruined city of Petra, hidden in the mountains of southern Jordan. The rose-red colour comes from the sandstone of the mountains into which caves, temples, tombs and monuments were built. Because it was surrounded by mountains, this beautiful city stayed undiscovered through the ages until the 18th century, when the archeologists found the way in.

The first scientific investigation of the place, however, was possible towards the end of the following century. Today tourists can enter Petra through the same deep path, which twists for one mile through the mountain.

At times, it is so narrow that the walls block out the sky leaving the traveller in complete darkness. At the end of the road the darkness suddenly turns into brilliant sunshine in the Wadi of Urn, where the magnificient columns of the  Treasury, Petra’s most famous monument, tower up to the blue sky. The central city area lies in the Wadi Mousa and this is mainly where the most beautiful walls, steps, fountains and temples are found.


Now the city lies quietly under the hot desert sun, and nobody lives there except the archeologists, museum keepers and guides and a small  number of Bedouin families who still inhabit the caves high up on the hillsides. And the tourists, of course, who come every year to see the ancient, secret city of rose-red stone.

They listen carefully to the guides who tell them that Petra was once a wealthy city of the ancient world. It began as a watering place for the caravans and developed into an  important trading centre. The hills around Petra were settled in the fifth century B.C. by the people of an ancient tribe, the Edomites, who began to build the city. However, it was actually the Nabateans, who settled the Wadi Mousa in 310 B.C. that brought wealth and prosperity to the city.


They built  beautiful temples to worship the sun and made delicately painted pottery. They also established a well-developed administrative system to live in peace. A long-line of Nabatean kings came to an end in 106 AD, when Petra was occupied by the Romans and became part of the Roman province of Arabia. At first, the city flourished under Roman  administration. The Romans built beautiful monuments and made new improvements to the city, such as the Collonade Street, which is very famous among archeological circles.

However, as the economy of the whole eastern area began to change, the trade routes disappeared and Petra declined. By the sixth century AD, there was no longer any mention of Petra in ancient writings.

A. What do the following refer to?

1. the following century’ (line 9):

2. ‘if (line 11):

3. ‘where’ (line 16):

4. ‘them’ (line 23): .


B. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).

1. Petra is called the rose-red city because of the special type of rock formation found in the mountains surrounding it.

2. The only way into Petra today is a path up the mountains, which receives plenty of sunshine.

3. The Treasury, Petra’s most famous temple, is a cave in the Wadi Mousa.

4. The Bedouin families, who work as archeologists, museum keepers and guides, are the only inhabitants of the central city area today.




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