The upper register of the Tomb of King Aretas IV (1st Century CE)

Lost City

In Blog by Alex Woogmaster

No one can deny the impact of a stunning and complete interior environment, but I find I derive the greatest inspirations from ruins. It is at the feet of destroyed buildings – crumbling cities – that my imagination truly runs wild, mentally reconstructing what must once have been. My husband recently surprised me with a visit to Petra, an ancient Nabatean city located not too Far East of the Dead Sea. For the once bustling capital, almost all that Colonization, Time, and numerous Earthquakes have left us are the city’s monumental funereal facades, masterfully carved into living rock.

I’m sharing with you some of the moments that inspired me most: the winding thoroughfare that brought us to the surprising city entry, their astoundingly scaled tomb structures, the internationally influenced marketplace, and other details, all to demonstrate their incredible detail and scale. This is not a case of finding details to be borrowed for new designs; it is an opportunity to imagine what we can do with our minds and hands when extraordinary sites and extraordinary invention are at our fingertips.

Sadly, the site is almost more famous for a façade that was featured in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Tourists stop at the foot of the misnamed “treasury” building (it is a tomb, in fact), mount a camel, snap some photos, and head back to their busses. We miss so much when we do not explore on our own. Just turning the corner, Lior and I discovered market places, a massive public amphitheater, and so many more incredible moments of architectural magic.

We cannot forget to look beyond what is initially shared with us, and must always look for more… Most often we can find it, making the rewards of discovery that much sweeter.