Central Petra

The Temple of Dushara and other monuments

The heart of Petra lies about the open ground of the Wadi Musa. A broad track from the Khazneh leads to the main street of Roman Petra, which is paved with cut stone and lined with columns. Towards the amphitheatre is an open marketplace and a nymphaeum or public fountain. At the opposite end is the Temenos Gateway, which marked the entrance to the courtyard of the Temple of Dushara.

The Temple, popularly known as the Qasr al-Bint Firaun ("The Castle of Pharaoh's Daughter"), was a large free-standing structure, built of massive blocks of yellow sandstone. It has been extensively restored. Dushara was the principal god of the Nabataeans; his partner, the fertility goddess Atagartis, was worshipped at the Temple of the Winged Lions, which faces the Temple of Dushara from a low rise to the north-east of the Temenos gateway. In Roman times, these temples would have been taken over for the worship of the appropriate Roman gods, possibly Apollo and Artemis respectively. In the city's Byzantine period, it is likely that they were also adapted for Christian worship.

Behind the Qasr rises a tall plug of rock, Al-Habis, with Nabataean steps leading to the summit, on which are the remains of a small fort built by the Crusaders. To the north-west a pathway leads off towards Ad-Deir while to the north is open, sandy ground, covered by dry scrub and the remains of Byzantine walls and other ruins. The eastern side of this area is bounded by the King's Wall, a rock escarpment faced with three imposing tombs.