Petra: an ancient city and an impressive attraction in Jordan

Sights of Petra

The Ancient City of Petra Byzantine Church Canyon Siq Corinthian Tomb Silk Tomb Castle Karak Tomb with an Urn Aneisho Tomb

This site contains Petra attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in Petra, where to go and where to find popular and interesting places in Petra.

The Ancient City of Petra

The ancient city of Petra (photo).

Petra is an ancient city and a jewel of Jordan. It is located one kilometer from the city of Eilat.

The city of Petra was the capital of the ancient Nabatean state, which emerged in the VII century BC. A significant part of the architectural sites of Petra is carved directly into the rocks of red sandstone.

In ancient times the city was located at the crossroads of important trade routes, which ensured its prosperity. But after the opening of the sea trade routes the city fell into decline. Gradually the sands hid the amazing architecture of Petra from view. Forgotten for centuries, it was discovered only in the 19th century.

Nowadays the majestic constructions of the ancient capital attract about half a million tourists every year.

Coordinates: 30.32887900,35.44257900

Byzantine Church

Byzantine church (photo)

Petra is an impressive Nabatean ancient city in West Jordan. All its magnificent massive facades carved in red sandstone and the surrounding rugged landscape dotted with historical monuments are a traveler’s paradise. Petra was and is a great religious city. There are many tombs, temples, shrines and altars.

One such gem is the Byzantine Church. It was built on Roman ruins around 450 AD. The church was a three-nave basilica with a total area of about 400 square meters. All the aisles of the temple are paved with amazingly preserved mosaics depicting local and mythical animals. The cruciform font was surrounded by four columns, possibly supporting the dome. Around 600 A.D. the church suffered a major fire and was abandoned until it was finally destroyed by earthquakes.

Its excavations began in 1992 and archaeologists have found 152 papyrus scrolls. The Byzantine church is a unique historical monument of ancient civilization and is of great interest for tourists.

Coordinates: 30.33128700,35.44429100

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Siq Canyon

Canyon Siq (photo)

Canyon Siq is located in Jordan, its length is one and a half kilometers, and it ends with the ruins of Al Khazneh. Previously, this canyon served as the main entrance to the ancient city and was used by royal caravans.

At the beginning of the canyon you can see the remains of the stone arch. It was the site of a massive Roman legion gate, which allowed the passageway to be sealed and the defense to be kept to a minimum.

Coordinates: 30.32888900,35.44027800

In photo mode you can view the sights in Petra by photo only.

Corinthian Tomb

Corinthian tomb (photo)

The Corinthian Tomb is one of the many architectural monuments of the city. It dates from 40 AD. The tomb is located in the center of Petra, opposite the theater, and is one of four majestic structures carved into the rock at the foot of the mountain, called the Royal Tombs. These structures were the burial place of kings and dignitaries. The name of the tomb comes from the Corinthian design of the columns which intertwined Greek and Roman architecture. Its facade is one of the most magnificent in Petra, bearing a great resemblance to the city’s treasury.

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The state of the structure has recently deteriorated and restoration work is underway here. However, visitors can admire the facade of the Corinthian Tomb and take great pictures.

Coordinates: 30.32724900,35.44814700

Silk Tomb

Silk Tomb (photo)

The Silk Tomb is one of the many historical monuments of Petra. It dates back to the first half of the first century AD. The structure is located in the center of the city and is one of four huge structures carved into the rock at the foot of the mountain, the so-called Royal Tombs. These were the tombs where kings and dignitaries were buried.

The tombs got their name because of the imposing bright façade due to the fantastic multicolored layers of rock. It is the most attractive among the royal tombs. The area of the room is about 90 square meters. The lower tier of the chamber was equipped with a room for holding sacred feasts and honoring the dead.

The place is very popular with tourists. There is a cafe not far from the tomb where you can eat and relax. A short drive away is a cozy hotel for travelers.

Coordinates : 30.32591600,35.44720300

Karak Castle

Castle Karak (photo)

Karak has been known since ancient times. The castle is a huge labyrinth with dark vaults and endless passages. It is so high that from its windows you can see the Dead Sea.

Karak is on the so-called “Road of Kings” (or “Road of Kings”), the caravan route between Syria and Egypt. It is not for nothing that bloody wars were fought over this territory for centuries.

The castle was built by the Crusaders in 1136. Karak fortress became at that time the main Crusader center in the area. Later it became the stronghold of the Mamelukes and the Ayyubids.

The main thing in Karak is the numerous tunnels, underground passages, labyrinths, and rooms. To get lost in them is very easy and also very interesting. In some places, just total darkness, so a flashlight will not be superfluous.

Coordinates: 31.16485500,35.76190800

The Tomb with an Urn

Tomb with an urn (photo)

The tomb with the urn is one of the many unique structures of Petra. This is one of the five so called Royal Tombs, which served for the burial of kings and dignitaries. It takes its name from the urn that surmounts the central pediment.

The tomb is built on a high mountain and dominates the surrounding facades. In order to get there, one had to climb several flights of stairs. It is believed to be the tomb of King Malchus II who died in 70 AD. The imposing facade has stood the test of time. The tomb stands on an open platform, with several pairs of columns along the northern terrace. The inner chamber is quite imposing, measuring about 400 square meters.

In 477 the tomb was converted into a church, as evidenced by the record of consecration on the back wall of the hall. This imposing structure is very popular with tourists. There is a café with a wide variety of refreshments and a cozy hotel a few kilometers away.

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Coordinates: 30.32762000,35.44943400

Aneisho Tomb

Aneisho tomb (photo)

The Aneisho Tomb is one of the many attractions of Petra. It was created around 50 AD. The monument is situated on an elevated site, so it immediately attracts attention.

This majestic structure is named after the brother of the Nabatean queen Shagilat. It has a beautiful façade with a double cornice. In its structure the Greek, Egyptian and Nabatean architectural styles are intertwined. The tomb was a two-tiered room with a total area of about 400 square meters. There was a room with a massive table and two benches where sacred feasts were held in honour of the dead.

This place is of great interest to visitors. Next to the tomb is a small café with a wide selection of refreshments. The cozy hotel is a few kilometers away and it is possible to stay here during the sightseeing tour.

Coordinates: 30.32865700,35.44725200

The most popular attractions in Petra with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Petra on our website.

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Ancient Petra

Ancient Petra

Ancient Petra is a unique rock city that until the early 19th century was known only to the local Bedouins. For centuries they have kept it a secret, not letting outsiders in, as they believed the treasures of the king were hidden here. Today, the unusual sight is open to millions of tourists.

The city has more than once turned into a movie set. Petra can be seen in the frames of famous movies, including the adventures of Sinbad and Indiana Jones. The ruins and temples are featured in computer games, novels, and numerous documentaries.

Tombs

Petra is called the “pink” city because of the characteristic hue of the cliffs, which intensifies in the hours of sunrise and sunset. The layered structure of the sandstone creates an incredible palette of colors, varying with the light, and marvels at the unimaginable patterns and divisions created by nature itself.

Where is it

Petra hides from civilization in southeastern Jordan, close to the border with Israel. To get to the archaeological park, you need to overcome the distance:

  • from Eilat – 136 km;
  • from Aqaba, 123 kilometers;
  • from Amman 235 km;
  • From Tel Aviv: 420 km;
  • From Sharm el-Sheikh – 355 km.

The city rises to 900m above sea level, and over 650m above the surrounding plateau. The entrance portal, which opens a fairy-tale way to the era of antiquity, is carried out from the side of the town of Wadi Musa.

Square

Excursions to Petra

You can book a tour at local travel agencies, hotels, at the entrance to the archaeological park at the Visitor Centre or in advance, using the offers on our website. The latter option guarantees a tour with a Russian-speaking guide at a specified time.

One day organized tourists come from Eilat and Tel Aviv (Israel), Aqaba and Amman (Jordan), and Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt).

Tickets

A fee is charged at the entrance to the archaeological park. The cost depends on the time of stay in the country and the number of days of travel through the ancient city. If a tourist visits Petra on the day of arrival in Jordan, his ticket will be considered a “border” ticket. In this case he will have to pay 90 JD. If he returns to the ancient city the next day, he will receive compensation in the amount of 40 JD. To determine the fare, a passport marked with the date of crossing the border is required at the ticket office.

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Nabatean buildings

Ticket prices for those who entered the country earlier:

  • 50 JD – for one day;
  • 55 JD – for two days;
  • 60 JD – for three days.

Free for children under the age of 12.

Residents and those with a permit to stay in Jordan for at least a year visit Petra for only 1 JD. Payment in cash is accepted in local currency. Credit cards can also be used.

Carriage ride from the Visitor Center (and back):

  • To El Khazneh – 20 JD;
  • To the museum, JD 40.

The price to attend the night show is JD 17. Children under the age of 10 are free to enter.

Mode of operation

The ancient city is open daily:

  • 06:00 to 18:00 – in summer;
  • 06:00 to 16:00 – winter.

Night shows with the lighting of 1,500 candles take place on the square in front of Al Khazneh from 8:30 to 10:30 pm on Mon, Wed and Thu.

Multicolored Sand Souvenirs

Ancient Petra

The city was founded by the Idumeans, descendants of Esau, one of the sons of the biblical patriarch Isaac. Petra was the capital of Idumea for a long time, but after the absorption of much of its territory by the Nabataean kingdom at the turn of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, the city became the capital of Nabataea. The locals called it Rakma.

Ancient Petra’s prosperity was due to its favorable location at the crossroads of trade routes. Caravans with spices moved between the coast of the Persian Gulf, the Red and Mediterranean seas, as well as between Syria and Egypt. When they reached the gorge, people and animals rested, stocked up on food and water, and then set out on their further journey.

Ancient Petra had an organized system of water supply consisting of terracotta pipes, troughs and numerous reservoirs. Rainwater was collected within a radius of more than 20 km. At the best of times the city had 20-40 thousand inhabitants.

In the 1st century, the Nabateans became allies of the Roman Empire and then this ancient state became one of the provinces of the Eternal City. With the arrival of the Romans Petra continued its development, but after the opening of sea routes to the East, the caravan routes gradually fell into oblivion. As a result the city lost its power, became deserted and lost in the sands. It is thought that it was deserted also because of several earthquakes that broke the vital water supply system. The last medieval mentions of Petra date back to the 12th century.

Gorge Sik

The mysterious rocky city was discovered to the world by Johann Ludwig Burkhardt. He collected information bit by bit, but his attempts to find Petra ended with nothing. Once the Swiss orientalist traveler managed to get into the gorge, posing as an Arabian merchant to local Bedouins. It happened in 1812. The serious excavations began a hundred years later.

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Sights of Petra

The rock city was carved in stone and built for many centuries, passing from hand to hand. That’s why the local architecture is a mixture of elements of Hellenistic, Roman and Eastern traditions. The Idumeans, the Nabataeans, the Romans, the Arabs, the Byzantines and even the Crusaders left their mark here.

The Main Trail of Petra is 4 km long. From there you can go on to Ad Deir Monastery (800 steps up) or in the middle of the trail (at the Amphitheater) turn left and climb the high ground to look at the ancient city from an unusual angle. It is worth noting that both climbs are extremely difficult. Locals offer the services of a donkey, but not everyone can ride the poor animal up, hearing the constant blows of the whip. These animals are not ceremonious and brutally exploited here.

In total, Petra has several hundred archaeological sites. Excavations have been conducted for almost 100 years, but the ancient city has been studied by no more than 15-20%.

Stone Elephants

The entrance to the Main Trail is located at the eastern point of the route, near the Visitor Center. Here are a few key archaeological sites.

Bab Al Siq.

From the tourist office to the Siq Gorge you will have to walk about a kilometer along the “open” road, so you should bring a hat and sunglasses. About halfway down the road, a block with carved vertical stripes will appear, which is one of the stones of the Bab Al Sik (Gate of Petra). The landmark is indicated by an explanatory stand.

The Obelisk Tomb

This is where the introduction to the rock city begins. Above the tomb rise four obelisks. The lower part was probably the location of the triclinium, a dining room with a table-top box.

Obelisk Tomb

The dam

This structure protected the city from flooding during the rainy season. It diverted water streams coming down the gorge from the surrounding hillsides into the valley.

Siq Gorge

The rupture in the rock is believed to be the result of a major earthquake that occurred in these areas long before Petra was founded. The winding corridor leading to the city is over 1.2 km long and 3-12 m wide. Intricately curved multi-colored walls of the gorge Sik rise to a height of 80 m.

El Khazneh

At the exit from the Siq, mysteriously, as if from the depths of time, appears the main attraction of Petra – the Treasury of the Pharaohs. The purpose of this structure is not fully clear. It is assumed that there was a temple here. The statue at the top of the facade looks like a huge urn which may have held the treasures of the ancient kings.

El Khazneh

Street of Facades.

Passes along the Nabatean tombs carved into the rocks. The corridor gradually widens and ends in a wide area. It is believed that the tombs were meant for important inhabitants of Petra.

Amphitheatre

The semi-circular arbors and arena were built in Petra at the beginning of the first century. Up to 4,000 people could be seen at one time. Nowadays there are also occasional performances.

Amphitheater

Royal Tombs

Compared with other similar sites in Petra, they are more impressive in size. The most notable are the tombs:

  • Corinthian;
  • Silk;
  • With an urn;
  • The Palace tomb;
  • Sixtus Fiorentinus.
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Via Colonna.

Reminiscent of the Roman period in the history of the ancient city. The street was the center of Petra, as evidenced by the presence of the market, the public fountain Nymphaeum, commercial buildings. There are still sections of the cobbled road.

The Great Temple

One of the main attractions of Petra. Supposedly, the temple occupied an area of 7000 m². Nearby is a complex of buildings, pools and gardens.

Just off the Main Trail are:

  • Temple of the Winged Lions – discovered by electronic probing;
  • Main Church – elements of wall and floor mosaics are preserved.

As you ascend from the temple of the Nabatean deity Duchares to the High Place of Sacrifice, you can see 7-meter obelisks carved into the rock, the Valley of Pharas, altars, the carved Lion and several tombs, including the Renaissance and the Roman Soldier. Walking this route requires physical preparation.

To the northwest of the Main Trail is the Ad Deir Monastery. Its facade is reminiscent of Al Khazneh. There is a long, fairly grueling ascent up steps to the complex, at the end of which magnificent panoramas open up. About halfway up the ascent you can look into the Triclinum of the Lion.

Ad Deir

There are monuments near the rock town that relate to biblical chronicles. The most famous are the spring of Moses (Ain Musa) and Mount Aaron (Jabal Harun) with the supposed tomb of the high priest.

Given the area of ancient Petra and the additional routes in the vicinity, it is recommended to devote at least two or three days to the archaeological park. In the nearby town of Wadi Musa there are budget hostels and three- to five-star hotels where you can stay one or more nights.

The Wonder of the World in Jordan

The ancient city is one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The choice was made by popular vote using modern means of communication. More than 100 famous objects of the world took part in the competition. The list of winners was made public in 2007.

Since 1985 Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How to get to the ancient Petra

You can reach the archaeological site by public transport, cab or car.

By bus

JETT buses leave daily from Amman (Abdali Station) to Petra at 06:30. The return journey is at 16:00 in winter and 17:00 in summer. You can check the schedule on the official website. There are shuttles from the South Station: to Petra – from 09:00 to 16:00 and back – from 06:00 to 13:00.

From Aqaba, buses leave from the central market. You can check the schedule at the bus stop or at the hotel. Some hotels offer free shuttles.

Uber and Careem, mobile cab applications are available in Jordan.

By Car

The Kings Highway passes through the town of Wadi Musa, connecting Al-Tafil in the north with the Desert Highway in the south. It lies partly on highway 35.

From Amman you can access it by road 15 or 40-65-60. The travel time is about 3-4 hours.

From Aqaba and Eilat to Kings Highway you should follow highway 47 (15). Travel time is 2-2.5 hours.

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