Byzantine Churches of Petra

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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This page lists three Byzantine Churches, excavated by the ACOR (American Center of Oriental Research), provide deep insight into the thriving Christian community, settled in Petra.

See Subject Home > Middle East > Jordan > Petra > Byzantine Churches


Petra came under the Byzantine influence after the lengthy siege, when the Byzantines finally managed to retake the town from the Sasanians in 550/551 CE. A few churches were built in the earlier Roman period as well, like the Red Church, also known as the Ridge Church, but a larger number of churches were constructed during the Byzantine era.

These churches are clustered on a slope in the northern part of downtown Petra and provide evidence for the people who lived at Petra in the centuries after it had ceased to be an important metropolitan center.

List of Byzantine Churches

circa 300-400 CE

Ridge Church
The Ridge Church is thought to be the oldest church building in Petra, built on the ridge overlooking the city in the 3rd or 4th century CE built of Nabatean and Roman material. The Ridge Church is located across a central piazza from the Blue Chapel. The Ridge Church shows evidence of activity following the earthquake that devastated the area in 363 CE.

circa 550 CE

Byzantine Church of Petra
The Byzantine Church at Petra (also known as The Petra Church) is a prime example of monumental architecture in Byzantine Petra. It sits on elevated ground in the city center, north of the so-called Colonnaded Street. The Byzantine Church is notable for its lavish and well-preserved mosaic decoration. The large triple-aisled Petra Church, a basilica dedicated to St Mary, was probably the ancient city’s cathedral.

circa 550 CE

Blue Chapel, Petra

Blue Chapel
The remains of the Blue Chapel (الكنيسة الزرقاء) or the Blue Church of Petra, so named after its four blue Egyptian granite columns, topped with Nabataean horned capitals, that collapsed in an 8th-century earthquake but have been re-erected. The columns have been reconstructed along with the distinctive Nabataean flourishes at the top. It is one of the three Byzantine churches on the North Ridge of Petra, above the Colonnaded Street.

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