Petra, the great Ancient City that lies half-hidden in the wind-blown landscape in southern Jordan, is one of the world’s most treasured Unesco Heritage Sites. It was one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’, voted in 2007 which retained its magnetism through times of strife in the wider region.
The spectacular sandstone city of Petra was built in the 3rd century BC by the Nabataeans, who carved palaces, temples, tombs, storerooms and stables from the soft stone cliffs. Today it is a World Heritage Site that needs little introduction; suffice to say, no visit to Jordan is complete without at least two days spent exploring the remarkable Ancient City. It is approached through the adjacent town of Wadi Musa, which is the accommodation and transport hub.
The 1.2km Siq, or canyon, with its narrow, vertical walls, is undeniably one of the highlights of Petra. The walk through this magical corridor which was once marked by a Nabataean monumental arch, snakes its way towards the hidden city. It is one full of anticipation for the wonders ahead, a point not wasted on the Nabataeans, who made the passage into a sacred way, punctuated it with sites of spiritual significance.
Hidden high in the hills, the Monastery is one of the legendary monuments of Petra. Monastery similar in design to that of the Treasury is bigger with 50m wide and 45m high. It was built in the 3rd century BCE as a Nabataean tomb. It derives its name from the crosses carved on the inside walls, suggestive of its use as a church in Byzantine times. The ancient rock-cut path of more than 800 steps. Monastery at noon becomes a perfect photogenic.
Treasury is a tomb where most visitors fall in love with Petra. The Hellenistic facade is an astonishing piece of craftsmanship. Although carved out of iron-laden sandstone to serve as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III , the Treasury derives its name from the story that an Egyptian pharaoh hid his treasure herewhile pursuing the Israelites.
Originally built by the Nabataeans more than 2000 years ago, the Theatre was chiselled out of rock, slicing through many caves and tombs in the process. It was enlarged by the Romans to hold about 8500 which is around 30% of the population of Petra soon after they arrived in 106 CE. Badly damaged by an earthquake in 363 CE, the Theatre was partially dismantled to build other structures but it remains a Petra highlight.
Things to do!!!
Petra is a stiflingly hot place in the height of summer with 36°C. One can visit Petra during spring from March to May or autumn from September to November. Temperatures are pleasant and warm with18-25°C.
In Petra stick around until sunset because the quality of light makes the rocks glow in an incredible ruby colour.
Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes to walk around in all day. Bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock. Also make sure you have a ready supply of water. Temperatures drop fast when the sun sets, so bring an extra layer to stay warm.
The biggest threat one will encounter at Petra is dehydration from not drinking enough water. Bring plenty of bottled water to last for a day as it is a desert.