Barack Obama visits ancient city in Jordan

26th Mar 2013

"Amazing" was the word US President Barack Obama used to describe Jordan's fabled ancient city of Petra.

Walking through the winding, narrow pathways of one of the region's most stunning locations, Obama gazed in wonder at the soaring cliffs of reddish rock.

"This is pretty spectacular," he said, standing in front of the grand treasury. Considered to be the masterpiece of the ancient city, it was carved into the rose-red stone by the Nabataeans more than 2,000 years ago.

The building was called the treasury because the Bedouins believed an urn sculpted on top of it held great treasures, although it actually represented a memorial for Nabataean royalty.

Obama took a walking tour of Jordan's most popular tourist attraction, which has enticed more than half a million visitors each year since 2007.

He began at the entrance to the Siq, a narrow gorge winding between two, soaring cliffs into the heart of Petra. The pathway then opens up onto the treasury, before widening into a street where Nabataean burial chambers are carved into the mountains on both sides.

The ancient city used to be a critical junction for trade routes including silk and spice that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome.

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