Petra

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Petra

Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is an ancient city carved out of red, pink, and orange colored sandstone rock in southern Jordan. Surrounded by mountains and cliffs, Petra has the feel of a hidden archeological site. The color of the stone is what gives the city its nickname, The Rose City.

One of the most known structures of this city is Al Khazneh, also know as the treasury. Al Khazneh is an elaborate building carved out of the sandstone rock face and is 30 meters wide and 43 meters high. Only the front of the building is seen as the rest is hidden away in the rock. Al Khazneh appears to have two tall stories, and the only entrance seems to be a large open doorway on the first floor. This door and the wall it’s carved out of are recessed from the very front of the building, which juts out slightly from the rest of the rock face. Six smooth, round columns stretch from the platform to the top of the first floor. Stone stairs lead visitors from the columns to the door.

The tops of these columns stretch up and out into square, decorative pieces that help support a beam covered in detailed carvings and topped with a few layers of molding. Above this molding a flattened triangle with similar carvings and molding stretches over the middle four columns. Above this is another panel, more plan and without carvings.

The center of the second floor, directly over the area of the first floor that is recessed and contains the doorway, is also recessed, but the space above is mostly open with no roof. Two columns on the far left and two on the right are parallel to the ones below them and are topped with the same decorative square pieces as the ones below. These columns frame the part of the wall that sticks out from the rock face like below. On these panels of wall on either side, somewhat worn carvings, possibly angels, appear to be standing on podiums. The decorative beams and molding above these columns are very similar to the ones on top of the first floor.

However, from these outer panels the walls cut inward at a 90-degree angle to the recessed area. At the back of this area, two more pillars stand in the corners close together. The top beam and molding continues on this back wall on either side for a short space until taking a sharp turn back out with another two columns in those inner corners. Sculptures of an angels are carved into the small spaces between these sets of columns. The walls continue to jut out and curve around to the front to form a circular shape. Two more pillars stand in the front of this round extension with another carved figure between them. The decorative beam and molding on top follows the circular shape and has the addition of triangles lining the very top like a king’s crown or a gear.

One last noteworthy element is an added structure on either far side of the second floor, on top of the molding on the sections of wall that stick out from the recessed area. More beams and molding stretch upward diagonally from the outside to the inside but then stop to form a kind of open triangle that looks like a greater or less than symbol. If these beams continued, they would meet in the center to form a large triangle. Large roughly-shaped round stones set atop the corners of these highest structures.