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Felipe and Letizia visit Jordan's Petra

May 31, 2004
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After enjoying one of the most spectacular weddings of recent years, Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia have been taking in one of the world's most breath-taking sights.

Looking happy and relaxed, the newlyweds left behind the formality of royal life during a honeymoon visit to Jordan's spectacular lost city of Petra. Felipe, who sported an open-necked shirt and a few days' stubble, gently held his new bride's hand as she leaned towards him intimately. Letizia was looking equally casual in a loose white shirt and stripey cotton trousers which were a world away from the sharp suits and Hollywood-style gowns she has been seen in recently.

Hidden away on the edges of the Wadi Rum desert, the ancient city is carved directly into the mountains. The lost civilization of the Nabateans carved temples, monasteries, homes and even a stadium into the hard sandstone. The complexity of the structures, which include roads and irrigation systems, is a tribute to the genius of its one-time inhabitants.

In its heyday, from 400 BC to 100 AD, Petra was home to around 30,000 people. Its location gave it control over the Arabian trade routes, and the city became an important commercial centre. But successive invasions and earthquakes took their toll and eventually it became a ghost town.

Thanks in part to its appearance in the film Indian Jones and The Last Crusade, Petra is once again attracting visitors. Those wanting to marvel at its beauty must travel through a 1.5-kilometre gorge, with 100-metre cliffs on each side, before arriving in the main square.

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Photo: PA
Felipe and Letizia listen hand-in-hand as a guide tells them about the city's history. The newlyweds travelled to Petra after their visit to Amman for Crown Prince Hamzah's wedding celebrations
Photo: JTB
The spectacular buildings of Petra are carved directly into the sandstone cliffs. Construction is thought to have taken 300 years

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