Colonnaded Street

The Ancient City

Downhill from the Theatre, the Colonnaded Street marks the centre of the Ancient City. The street was built around AD 106 and follows the standard Roman pattern of an east–west decumanus, but without the normal cardo maximus (north–south axis). Columns of marble-clad sandstone originally lined the 6m-wide carriageway, and covered porticoes gave access to shops.

At the start of the Colonnaded Street is the Nymphaeum, a public fountain built in the 2nd century AD and fed by water channelled from the Siq. Little can be seen today, although it’s recognisable by the huge 450-year-old pistachio tree, giving welcome shade in summer.

Also along the Colonnaded Street are the limited remains of the market area and the unrecognisable ruins of the Royal Palace.

The street ends at the Temenos Gateway. Built in the 2nd century AD, the gateway originally had huge wooden doors and side towers. It marked the entrance to the temenos (sacred courtyard) of the Qasr Al Bint, separating the commercial area of the city from the sacred area of the temple. Look closely for the few remaining floral friezes and a figure with an arrow, which suggest that this was once a very grand structure. Opposite are the minimal ruins of the Nabataean baths.