a large stone building with Petra in the background

© Provided by The Indian Express

At a time when several tourist destinations across the world are gradually opening up, post the coronavirus lockdown, travel guide publisher Lonely Planet has come up with its list of top travel destinations. And Petra in Jordan has bagged the top spot.

The historic destination that topped Lonely Planet‘s latest Ultimate Travel List, a book ranking 500 travel experiences, was commended for its “eternal air of mystery”. The ancient sandstone city was named one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007.

Located amid desert canyons and mountains, carved into vibrant red, white, pink and sandstone cliff faces, Petra was once a thriving trade centre and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106, according to nationalgeographic.com. The city, however, was in ruins for centuries until a European traveller disguised himself in Bedouin costume and set out to explore the destination, in the early 1800s.

Petra lies around Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin surrounded by mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. The access to the city is through a 1.2 km-long gorge called the Siq that directly leads to the Khazneh. The beautiful destination is also called the ‘Rose City’ because of the colour of the stone from which it is carved. The top tourist spots include Bab As-Siq, or the door of the Siq, Egyptian-influenced Obelisk Tomb, Rosy Treasury, High Palace of Sacrifice, and Urn Tomb, to name a few.

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Besides Petra, the second place on the list was bagged by Galapagos Islands, an archipelago in Ecuador, followed by Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia and Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

The destination list was compiled from Lonely Planet guidebook highlights. “For this edition, we rewarded extra points to sights that are managing tourism sustainably,” Lonely Planet’s VP of publishing, Piers Pickard, was quoted as saying by Independent. “In putting together this book, we were excited by changes in both the ‘where’ and the ‘how’,” Pickard added.

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