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To enter the ancient city, you need to walk about a mile between towering sandstone cliffs. If you prefer not to walk, you can ride a horse or take a two-passenger horse-drawin chariot. A petra tour guided experience will take you through the entrance and into the city with explanations as to the many channels and carvings into the side of the cliffs that can be seen. Modern engineers say the Nabataens were "absolute geniuses" at controlling rainwater to prevent flooding and to avoid shortages in times of drought.

"The Treasury," the first facade you see as you enter Petra, is world famous because of the Indiana Jones "The Last Crusade" movie. Carved into the cliff, "The Treasury" is so-named because at the top of the enormous structure is a carved, stone object that looks like an urn. According to legend, the urn contains treasure. Chips on the inaccessible urn are the results of unsuccessful attempts to break it with bullets and stones.

"The Treasury" and many of the other buildings in Petra are tombs. One of Petra's mysteries is that no bodies have ever been found there.

Some of the tombs have colorful interiors. Splashes and swirls of magenta, midnight blue and ocher create pictures on the walls and ceilings that rival paintings in the finest museums. But the "masterpieces" are solely due to the natural colors of the sandstone.

Wandering around Petra are Bedouin children and adults, trying to sell everything from postcards to polished stones to camel rides. Bedouin families used to live in Petra's caves, but in 1984 the government moved them out into more modern housing. Now Bedouins only come to hawk their wares.