It is often very difficult to grasp what Petra must have looked like in its Nabatean “golden age”, when it was an extravagantly wealthy city, home to tens of thousands of people. What today are rubbly excavation sites were once grand temples and public buildings, soaring to their full height. Watercourses flowed to irrigate lush gardens in what looks now like dusty waste-ground. Natural earth tones in the landscape were tempered with brightly coloured plasterwork adorning many of the buildings.
Many architects and artists have tried to depict Petra’s ancient reality, with varying degrees of accuracy. One in particular – Chrysanthos Kanellopoulos, an archeologist in his own right – has worked over many years with a number of teams in Petra and around Jordan. Google his name to find his vivid, full-colour renderings of what Petra would have looked like two thousand years ago. As an impression of original Nabatean architecture, they are remarkable – though bear in mind that since archeological work is ongoing, some details may now have been superseded by new discoveries.