The Petra church is quite a convoluted church. The church is located in the old city of Petra. The temple of Winged Lions is located very close to the Petra Church. The distance among them is hardly few hundred meters. It is positioned on the colonnaded street.
It is believed that the church was originally constructed in 450 AD. It is stated that the church is constructed over the Roman and Nabataean remnants. It was a very important church during the 5th and 6th century AD. An earthquake took place near the church in 363 AD. It is described as the major reason for the decline of Petra.
The church had a single apse when it for constructed in 450 AD. The church had only one entrance gate. In the southern passageway the Mosaic of season is been placed.
The church was earlier remodeled in 500-550 AD. Apses were constructed on both the sides of the church. Also the newly constructed building was 2-storey vestibule built. New wall paintings were created. The nave of the church was also paved. Also the screens were chancel. A pulpit was also constructed. New mosaics were installed from the northern passageway up to the southern passageway.
The church was remodeled for the second time in 600 AD. The remodeling of the church was interrupted by a sudden fire that took place in the church. The church thus stood still as dilapidated. Later it was destroyed in the earthquakes that took place in the region.
Kenneth W. Russell discovered the Petra Church in the year 1990. He died in the year 1992. In the year 1992-98 the site of the church was being excavated. American center of Oriental research took its responsibility. The excavation was funded by the United States Agency for International development.
The 152 Papyrus scrolls which were present in the ruins of the church were been uncovered in December 1993. The scrolls that were found are declared as the largest collection of the old written stuff that was ever found in Jordan. The materials were carbonized because of the fire that took place in the early seventh century. The translation of the fabrics written material is still going on. Information regarding the life of people in Petra as well as the records of a complete family is found to be written of the scrolls. The scrolls have information from 528 AD up to 582 AD. During this period, Petra had witnessed around 3 Byzantine emperors namely Justinian followed by Justin II which was later followed by Tiberius II. A will that divides the properties among the three brothers was also found. The divisions included not just the property but also the slaves and the vineyards. It is believed that the scroll was the family files that belonged to the archdeacon Theodorus who was Obodianos’s son.
What to see
The excavation of the Petra church is already completed. The church is now conserved in a defensive tent covers and the walls which had no walls. The basilica is 3-aisled. The length of the passageway is 26 meters and the width is about 15m. On the eastern end there are almost 3 apses while there around 3 gateways on the western side. It is believed that the remains of the Roman period as well as the Nabataean period was utilized for the construction of the church as well as its capital also its door jambs and the different relief’s.
The beautiful mosaics which are very well-preserved are placed on the either sides of the Petra Church’s aisles. The length of each side is 70 sq.meters. The mosaics have design of various animals which includes local as well as foreign animals and also mythological creatures. Personifications of the ocean, season, earth and wisdom are also parts of the mosaics. You will come across the important remnants of the naves’ pavement which was been made out of marble and had some geometrical designs made up with the help of the stones.
The baptistery and the atrium are positioned to the nave’s west. It is said that the bapistery was been constructed in the middle of the fifth century. The bapistery is known to be the largest as well as the best conserved baptistery that is located in the whole Near East. A baptismal font which has the shape of the cross is placed at the southwest corner in the Sulk. The font is easily accessed with the help of the constructed steps. The baptismal font is being surrounded by 4 different columns which acted as the support system for the canopy.
How to reach
Sultan Ismail Petra Airport is the nearest located airport the further journey is easily achieved with the help of various public transportation options that are easily available. You can hire a taxi or cab or also rent a car.
When to visit
The best time to visit Petra is from mid-January up to the month of May.
The church is opened for the visitors from morning six to evening six.
The entrance fees at the site keeps changing so make sure about the entrance cost before visiting the site. Also try and book the tickets before hand to avoid the crowd.