Imagine yourself descending the steps into the ancient heart of Petra, Jordan, a city carved from rose-red stone and steeped in millennia of history. Now, picture a path less trodden, veering off the main trail, leading you to the enigmatic Baptist Street. 

Baptist street in Petra

At the start of the street, the remains of the Sabil of the Nymphs (Nymphaeum) can be observed. This semi-circular building is situated at the intersection of Wadi Musa and Wadi Al-Matahah. Adorned with six columns on its facade, water used to flow into it from a reservoir located on the opposite side of the valley. Adjacent to the sabil stands an elm tree believed to be around four hundred and fifty years old.

The street was reconstructed to a width of 6 meters post 106 AD. Archeological findings revealed the presence of an older Nabataean street, lined with one to two-story buildings on both sides. Towards the south of the colonnaded street, a set of stairs led to an open square known as the market, where various commercial activities and transactions took place. This area appears to have been the bustling core of the city and a hub for diverse commercial endeavors since the third century BC. The street remained in use during the Byzantine era, spanning the fourth, fifth, and even sixth centuries.

The street’s pavement is designed with horizontal and vertical patterns to facilitate the movement of vehicles. It features a convex shape in the middle to aid in water drainage. Beneath the current street level, a system of canals and manholes is present, with some parts visible near the main triple gate leading to the sacred square of Qasr al-Bint. Preceding the gate is a staircase that leads to the Southern Temple, while across from it stands the Temple of the Winged Lions, dedicated to the deity Al-Lat or Al-Uzza, the companion of the primary Nabataean god Dhu Shura.

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