PetraPetra flourished 200 years ago and traded with Rome as an equal before falling into abandonment after a series of earthquakes in the 4th and 6th centuries AD. It returned to public imagination in the 19th century when European explorers 'rediscovered' it for the world. Visitors today can capture something of the same feeling as they walk down the narrow canyon of the siq to the city entrance – as dramatic an entry to any tourist attraction on the planet.
The canyon opens out to the carved facade of the Treasury, Petra's most iconic site. From here you can explore the cliffside tombs, with their colorful bands of sandstone, the Street of Facades and the amphitheater hewn from the living rock.
The ancient center lies some walk off (it's easy to understand why entrance tickets offer three day visits), along with the splendid old Monastery, which involves a stiff but rewarding uphill climb.
Visit several times if you can, at different times of day to enjoy the changing light – early morning is best for the Treasury, late afternoon for the Royal Tombs.