This Ancient City in Saudi Arabia Is an Archaeological Wonder
Like Petra, but without the crowds.
Known for its spectacular carved rock faces, Petra, Jordan has long been on the bucket list of many world travelers. The city was the capital of the Nabataean Empire, and photographs of its pink stone, highly-decorated temple, and tombs have spread its architectural reputation around the world.
Built in the 1st century B.C. to the 1st century A.D., Mada'in Saleh — known as Hegra to the Nabataeans — features monumental-sized tombs carved into the rock face, similar to those of Petra. UNESCO named Mada'in Saleh a world heritage site, making it a culturally significant place, even if it isn't a household name.
"Its integrity is remarkable and it is well conserved," according to UNESCO. "It bears witness to the encounter between a variety of decorative and architectural influences (Assyrian, Egyptian, Phoenician, Hellenistic)."
Given its relative obscurity, visitors are likely to encounter fewer crowds at this spectacular location.
Getting there is no simple task, however. Travelers must fly to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and then to Medina before driving four hours to Mada'in Saleh, according to BBC.