The Rock City of Petra: a summary of Jordan’s main attraction

Jordan. The ancient city of Petra.

Petra is a place that attracts with its unique atmosphere and ancient mysteries. The unique symbiosis of architecture and natural massifs appears as a single ensemble in color and texture. Hidden in the caves of the legendary city at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, the wonders of Petra offer a plunge into a mystery that still torments the minds and hearts of both scholars and lovers of wonders.

Petra is a legend, the journey to which for centuries remained only a dream, but today is available to anyone who wants to dive into the most amazing labyrinths, preserving the secrets of two thousand years ago. It is one of the most recognizable UNESCO heritage sites and one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, a real treasure of Jordan – and the whole world. In ancient times, Petra, thanks to its unique location in the middle of the grueling trade routes between the seas, became a legend. The former capital of Idumea and Nabatea, lost in the sands with the decline of overland trade, today attracts more than a million visitors a year for a reason. Petra is a marvel even today.

Roman columns of the Great Temple Complex in Petra

The Roman columns of the Great Temple Complex in the city of Petra

Petra is a unique city – an architectural ensemble combining into a single whole the caves, streets, tombs, crypts, palaces, temples and other buildings carved into the steep cliffs, inscribed into the dry river bed and natural amphitheaters. Petra greets with facades reminiscent of the ancient Roman classics, surprises with ornate columns and intricate bas-reliefs, appearing as an amazing work of art. It is an oasis in the desert and a real treasury of ancient examples of architectural solutions blended into the natural rock massif with amazing subtlety.

The secret, lost city has given birth to many legends of countless treasures and the Holy Grail, which many travelers over the centuries have tried to find. After the Romans and the loss of its importance along the trade routes, Petra remained a mere legend until it was rediscovered in 1912 by the cunning, deception and considerable courage of the legendary orientalist Burckhardt. This Swiss was the first in the new history to persuade the nomads to open to him the way to the legendary city covered with mysteries. Since then, the Wadi Musa desert has become an object of full-fledged tourist pilgrimage.

Qasr Al-Beidha (The Palace of the Virgin) is one of the best preserved ancient structures in Petra

Qasr Al-Bint (The Palace of the Virgin) – one of the best preserved ancient structures in Petra

Petra is a phenomenon; no one has discovered the exact story of its origin. The “newest” buildings are no older than the 6th century AD. The first of the open ones appeared about 2 thousand years BC (if the results of modern analyses and scans are to be believed). There is simply no reliable data and facts about Petra: no one can say anything definite about this unique place and the mystery of its origin. Even today, no more than a third of the labyrinths and caves hidden behind the magnificent facades of Petra have been explored. Buildings and corridors are revealed daily, adding a few more pages to the four-thousand-year history of this phenomenon.

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Columns along the Roman cobblestone road in Petra

Columns standing along the Roman cobblestone road in Petra

There are many theories about the origin of Petra. But most interested scholars agree that Petra was first discovered and inhabited by the Idumeans, and flourished already inhabited by the Nabataeans, the tribes who settled in this rocky city after centuries of nomadic life in the desert. At various times the legendary city has belonged to the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Crusaders. The architectural treasures of Petra are the consequences of the conquest by Rome. And the Bedouins were the last to call it their haven.

Bedouins long ago left the labyrinths of Petra, displaced by politics and commerce, which made Petra a real tourist gem. But their craftsmanship can still be admired today. After all, unique jewelry and sand bottles are the main souvenirs from Petra for any visitor. And everyone can take a camel ride and learn more about the Bedouin culture. The original inhabitants and peoples of the desert were evicted from this unique place in order to make it a true gem of the desert and one of the main tourist complexes of Jordan.

Portrait of a Bedouin in Petra

Portrait of a Bedouin in Petra

Petra surprises long before it arrives. After all, even the journey to the Treasury is a special adventure. The road to Petra seems to suggest a passage from darkness to light, from the dark ages to enlightenment, experiencing one of the most stunning contrasts. The gloomy, sullen, seemingly frightening Sik Gorge, with its narrow passage between the almost completely closing cliffs, is stunning not only because of its depth. To get to Petra, you need to descend 80 meters into the ruins of sandstone, plunging into darkness under the oppressive weight of the Nubian rocks. During this gloomy kilometer passage on horseback, on foot or in a phaeton, it is as if the line between fiction and reality is blurred. And the wild gloomy gorge prepares as well as possible for the miracle that opens after it – the incredible shades of pink that play on the masterfully carved in sandstone facades of Petra.

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The scenic route to Petra through the Siq Gorge

The scenic route to Petra through the Siq Gorge

The most famous – and most striking – in Petra even today remains the facade of the Treasury. El Khazneh is the first thing that opens to the eye of Petra. The subtlety and craftsmanship of its carvings can match any masterpiece from the Hellenistic era. The Roman facades carved into the rock are the first thing that opens after exiting the Sik Gorge. But it is not the only treasure of Petra. Expanding almost unexpectedly, the natural amphitheater reveals thousands of crypts and the main street framed by a colonnade. Labyrinths, caves and corridors transformed by masters have many surprises in store. Unique waterholes and baths providing water in the middle of the desert – a system that surprises even today.

El Khazneh, one of the most important and recognizable landmarks of Petra

El Khazneh – one of the most important and recognizable sights of the city of Petra

One of the latest discoveries is the tomb of an ancient ruler hiding on the upper floors, which was only discovered by scanning. Merging into single ensembles, connected by striking terraces and levels, the houses create an amazing labyrinth that you want to wander through endlessly. From the ancient amphitheater to the ruins of the legendary monastery Ad Deir, the hills and valleys of Petra hold a lot of interesting things. One of the unique “highlights” of Petra is rightly called a crematorium and tombs.

Ad Deir, a temple built in the 1st century BC

Ad Deir – a temple built in the 1st century BC

It is no accident that Petra is on the list of iconic places to visit. But while many of the classic sites on tourist maps can be explored and “discovered” in a day, Petra must be visited at least for a weekend. To understand, understand and marvel at this amazing wonder in a few hours is simply impossible. The minimum time, sufficient to start discovering the treasures of Petra, is not accidentally considered to be 2-3 days. And in the daytime Petra only slightly hints at its charm. To fully appreciate the rocks and carvings can only be at dusk and in the soft light of night candles, which in a new way to light up the colors of the unique rocks.

Night view of Petra

The night view of Petra

Shimmering in all shades of ochre and pink, as if revealing all the richness of the red sandstone color palette, Petra appears as an unsolvable mystery. Everyone who visits this amazing place leaves a piece of his heart in it and forever becomes one of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who seek to unravel the miracle of Petra.

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Attractions of Petra

Ancient City of Petra Byzantine Church Canyon Siq Corinthian Tomb Silk Tomb Castle Karak Urn Tomb 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, probably 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

What are the sights of Petra that you liked? Next to the photo there are icons, by clicking on which you can rate this or that place.

Siq Canyon

Siq Canyon (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.

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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 tightly and held the defense with a minimum of manpower.

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 monuments of the city. It dates back to the year 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.

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, caused by 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.

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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 gets its name from the urn that surmounts the central pediment.

The tomb is built on a high mountain and dominates the neighboring facades. In order to get up here, one has to overcome 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 impressive, 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.

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 range of refreshments. The cozy hotel is a few kilometers away and can be used as a stopover during a 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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