11 Astonishing Underground Cities Around The World, From Derinkuyu To Coober Pedy

Published September 28, 2023

Petra, Jordan: The Ancient City Carved Into A Sandstone Cliffside

Petra At Night

Wikimedia CommonsPetra, “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years, was once the capital of the Nabataean empire.

Petra, the massive city carved directly into the sandstone cliff faces in southwestern Jordan, was once the capital of the Nabataean empire. At its height, between 400 B.C.E. and 106 C.E., Petra was a thriving trading center and cultural hub — but then it sat abandoned, nearly in ruins, for centuries.

According to National Geographic, archaeologists have found evidence suggesting the Nabataeans inhabited Petra as far back as at least 312 B.C.E.

But the Nabataean empire fell to the Romans in 106 C.E., and as they were absorbed into the Roman Empire, Petra became unimportant. After all, the Roman Empire was sprawling, with plenty of trading hubs of its own.

As people left Petra behind, it slowly fell into decay. Earthquakes in the region caused further damage to the cliff-embedded city. Over time, the world gradually seemed to forget about Petra altogether.

It wasn’t until the early 1800s that Petra, Jordan became known to the Western world at large, when a European traveler disguised himself in Bedouin costume and paid a visit to the ancient site.

In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and it was named a new wonder of the world in 2007.

author
Austin Harvey
author
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
editor
Jaclyn Anglis
editor
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Harvey, Austin. "11 Astonishing Underground Cities Around The World, From Derinkuyu To Coober Pedy." AllThatsInteresting.com, September 28, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/underground-cities. Accessed June 22, 2024.