Petra, the “rose-red city half as old as time”, a city carved into the rock by the Nabataeans, was established around the sixth century BC and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since the mid-eighties. Just an hour an a half to the south lies Wadi Rum, a maze of natural rock formations cut into the sandstone and granite, where Lawrence of Arabia based his headquarters during World War I.
At Wadi Rum, the jagged silhouettes of rust-coloured mountains – including Mount Rum, named the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence – rise above the morning haze, seeming to float in the air. This was the area the great British archaeologist and military commander, immortalised by Peter O'Toole in David Lean's Hollywood epic, chose as his base, an area dominated by great towering rockscapes he described as “vast, echoing and god-like”.
Petra, too, offers a taste of eternity for visitors. The beautiful secret city of the Nabataeans was lost to the world in general for centuries until rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. The stone city is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the ancient world, it is included in the recent list of the severn modern wonders of the world, and it is said that nothing can quite prepare you for the reality of a visit to the rose-red city that was once an important junction on the silk and spice routes between Europe and the East.