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Petra

Wadi Musa, Jordan
| +962 3 215 7093
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Petra   Jordan
Take the Trail up to the Monastery Ma'an Governorate  Jordan
Explore the Royal Tombs  Ma'an Governorate  Jordan
Stroll the Remnants of Petra's Civic Center Ma'an Governorate  Jordan
Head Out onto Petra's Backroad Trails  Ma'an Governorate  Jordan
Petra   Jordan
Take the Trail up to the Monastery   Jordan
Explore the Royal Tombs    Jordan
Stroll the Remnants of Petra's Civic Center   Jordan
Head Out onto Petra's Backroad Trails    Jordan

Petra

Petra flourished more than 2,000 years ago, trading with Rome as an equal before being abandoned after a series of earthquakes in the 4th and 6th centuries C.E. It wasn’t until the 19th century, when European explorers “rediscovered” it, that the ancient city returned to the public consciousness. Now, visitors can walk down the narrow canyon of the siq to the city entrance—as dramatic an approach as any to a tourist attraction on the planet. The canyon opens up onto the carved facade of the Treasury, Petra’s most iconic site. From there, you can explore the cliffside tombs with their colorful bands of sandstone, the Street of Facades, and the amphitheater hewn from living rock. The ancient center lies some distance off, along with the splendid old Monastery, which sits at the top of a steep but rewarding climb. Consider buying a three-day ticket and visiting at different times of day to enjoy the changing light—early in the morning is best for the Treasury, while late afternoon is better for the Royal Tombs.

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AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Petra

The ancient Nabataean red-rock temples and tombs at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra truly embody that overused word mysterious. A few hints of the people who constructed this city in the 3rd century B.C.E. can be found in ancient texts, but relatively little is known of them. After the Nabataeans were conquered by the Romans, Petra declined rapidly. To this day, this city of finely chiseled sandstone and a sophisticated water-management system spread over some 1,000 square kilometers (400 square miles) hasn't given up its secrets to archaeologists. As you walk the site or head up to its higher portions on a camel or donkey, the magic of Petra is undeniable even if much of its history is lost.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Petra Visitor Center

Both inside and outside the ancient site of Petra, vendors sell all sorts of souvenirs, from hookahs to colorful sand bottles with desert scenes. For a less chaotic shopping experience and higher-quality items, the Visitor Center operates a store that sells crafts, textiles and jewelry to benefit rural women.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Enter through the Siq

The narrow canyon of the siq makes for a dramatic entry to Petra. As you walk the trail, bordered by immense cliffs on both sides, it's easy to understand how the Nabataeans managed to guard their capital from attack and how, later, Petra was lost to history for centuries.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Discover the Nabataeans' Ancient Capital

Its mammoth monuments, chiseled out of towering cliffsides, are splashed in swirling, natural rock colors of yellow, orange, and red. Petra is more vast than you can imagine (bring decent hiking shoes) and contains so much more than you'd expect. And no, the Treasury, of Indiana Jones fame, is not all there is to see. The Treasury is just the tip of the iceberg. Spend two or three days here scrambling amid the ruins and hiking narrow trails across the cliffs, far from the main tourist route. This ancient city has much more to offer than its walk-on role in a Hollywood film.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Traverse the Back Route into Petra

For a dramatic entry into the Nabataean city of Petra, you can't beat this hike. Starting from Little Petra (a small canyon with rock facades that once served as a camel caravan trading post) 8km from Petra's entry gate, the trail cuts through the sandy plains of the Wadi Arabah until a stone cairn marks the beginning of a rock-cut staircase threading across the cliff. The views along the way, across undulating craggy mountains, are stunning, but the real prize lies at the end of the trail, where you get your first glimpse of the Monastery's urn peeking over the hill slope.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Stare Upward in Awe at the Treasury

Made world famous after becoming the setting of the Holy Grail's home in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the Treasury is Petra's most recognizable monument. Its facade soars to 40m, creating an imposing welcome to the main ruins area after visitors have exited the siq. In Arabic it's called al-Khazneh Pharon (the pharaoh's treasury) thanks to a myth that the urn right at the very top of the facade is filled with gold. Although the Treasury's true purpose has never been unearthed, it's thought to have been built as either a tomb for one of Petra's kings, or as a temple dedicated to one of the Nabataean gods. If you want to see the ornate facade bathed in sunlight, get here early in the morning.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Get the Best Photo of the Treasury from Above

Everybody is after the "money shot" of the Treasury glimpsed between the cliff edges of the siq, but an even better way to capture the Treasury is from above. Just after the Palace Tomb (along the Royal Tombs ridge), a set of weather-beaten stairs leads up to the summit of Jebel Khubtha where there are traces of a Nabataean high place of sacrifice. The views across Petra's central city ruins all the way up the trail are magnificent and would be worth the 40-minute hike alone. At the summit, though, another prize awaits. Take the trail that leads you from the summit and down to a ridge where you can sit and survey the Treasury from above.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Take the Trail up to the Monastery

It's a bit of a hike up to the Monastery, but it's worth all the sweat. Just past Petra's central city ruins, a steep trail twists and turns up the hill leading you, finally, to the plateau where the Monastery sits. The name is something of a misnomer, as the building was likely used as a temple by the Nabataeans. But whatever its original use, this mammoth monument is one of Petra's most impressive. Take time to sit at the tea shack directly opposite, to admire the towering facade, and then head up the slope to the lookout point on the hillock above.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Climb to Jebel Madhbah's High Place of Sacrifice

For views of the rugged mountains, take the stone-cut stairs that twist up the hillside, just before Petra's Roman Theatre, to the high place of sacrifice. On the summit of Jebel Madhbah, a preserved altar platform marks the area where the Nabataeans made ritual sacrifices to their gods. For great photographs overlooking the vast Petra area, walk past the altar, along the summit ridge.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Explore the Royal Tombs

Some of Petra's most interesting monuments to explore are the Royal Tombs, which sit on a ridge, east of the Roman Theatre. The weathered facades lead into empty chambers with walls that display colorful swirls of pink and orange rock colors. The Urn Tomb is the most popular to visit and is the best preserved, but to get away from the crowds it's worthwhile walking along the ridge to see all of the other monuments that only a handful of Petra's visitors bother to see. The Palace Tomb's three-story facade is particularly impressive though worn and battered by the elements.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Stroll the Remnants of Petra's Civic Center

The big-hitter monuments of the Treasury and Monastery get all the glory, but Petra's central city ruins are a fascinating place in which to spend some time. Right at the valley basin, overlooked by the Royal Tombs high on the ridge above, a colonnaded street leads you into what was once the heart of the Nabataean capital. The huge Great Temple and Qasr al-Bint are the main ruins to explore, while on the hill opposite are the remains of two Byzantine era churches (only discovered in the 1990s) with some vivid and intricate preserved mosaics.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 4 years ago

Head Out onto Petra's Backroad Trails

Petra is so vast, it doesn't take much to get away from the crowds. If you want to discover more than just the main monuments, pull on your hiking shoes and hit the backroad trails that crisscross the hills surrounding the main valley. Here you'll find shepherds herding flocks of goats in the fields beside monuments that are only visited by a handful of hikers every week.
AFAR Local Expert
over 5 years ago

Petra: Get the Three-Day Pass

I had wanted to see Petra for as long as I could remember. Knowing nothing about it, simply did not matter. The best advice is to go very early in the morning when people are at a minimum. You enter through the Siq, a long and narrow rock alley. Take your time and take a deep breath before you get your first look at the Treasury. Soak it in. If you're lucky and there are few others, sit on the ground and just stare. Then move on and explore the ancient city of Petra. There are few if any spots you cannot access; no doubt you could spend three days in this UNESCO World Heritage site. Talk to the vendors selling jewelry, many are original residents of Petra, who only moved out in the last decades.
AFAR Local Expert
over 5 years ago

Dah da da dah dah da daaah

You can't help but hum the theme to Indiana Jones as you come to the end of the magical Siq - the winding, sand and rock, kilometres long prelude to what has to be one of the most stunning sights of the Middle East. As soon as you see it appearing, your eyes widen, the heart literally pounds and you toss up between running towards this amazing sight or being still for just a moment longer, to absorb the wonder that's in front of you.
AFAR Local Expert
over 5 years ago

By Donkey or Foot: The Monestary

Everyone marvels at the Treasury upon first entrance to Petra in Jordan. And they should. It's amazing in the "wonder of the world' sense. However, the complex of Petra is not just the Treasury. The Nabeteans, the Romans, and the Turks were busy living and constructing over millennia. Hire a donkey or lace up your hiking boots and head back through the canyons and cliffs to the Monestary - an enormous building carved into the sandstone cliffs.