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The Royal Tombs Group
The Royal Tombs Group

Some of the most fascinating structures in Petra are houses of the dead, especially those of prominent citizens. The Royal Tombs are some of the most elaborate and majestic, befitting the status of those who are interred in them. The Urn Tomb sits high on a cliff, and scholars believe it is the resting place of a Nabataean king, but they differ on whether it is Malchus II or Aretas IV. Tall columns line the front courtyard, and burial chambers sit above the front door. Inside is a large main chamber, with an inscription from Bishop Jason in 447 AD consecrating the tomb as a church.

Next to the Urn Tomb is a smaller crypt called the Silk Tomb because of its rich, ribbon-patterned colors. The Corinthian Tomb has eroded significantly, but its elaborate design is similar to that of the Treasury, suggesting that the same person designed or built them. The Palace Tomb has three stories, with a large stage and courtyard appropriate for state funerals or services for distinguished residents. With their simple, regal architecture and deep rose color, the Royal Tombs overlook the city.