Petra More Than A Wonder
It is not know precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st century BC, which grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh, and spices. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city in the 4th century AD. The earthquake combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city which was ultimately abandoned. By the middle of the 7th century Petra appears to have been largely deserted and it was then lost to all except local Bedouin from the area.
In 1812 a Swiss explorer named Johannes Burckhardt set out to ‘rediscover’ Petra; he dressed up as an Arab and convinced his Bedouin guide to take him to the lost city. After this, Petra became increasingly known in the West as a fascinating and beautiful ancient city, and it began attracting visitors and continues to do so today.
Petra is also known as the rose – red city, a name it gets from the wonderful color of the rock from which many of the city’s structures were carved. The Nabataeans buried their dead in intricate tombs that were cut out of the mountain sides and the city also had temples, a theatre, following the Roman annexation and later the Byzantine influence, a colonnaded street and churches.
In addition to the magnificent remains of the Nabataean city, human settlement and land use for over 10,000 years can be traced in Petra, where great natural, cultural, archaeological and geological features merge.
‘Bab Al Siq’ is Arabic for gateway to the ‘Siq’. Here you will three massive Djinn blocks, which are squared monuments. You will then come across the Obelisk Tom, carved by the Nabataeans in the 1st century AD. Above the tomb are four pyramids (‘nafesh’) and a niche with a statue in bas – relief that symbolizes the five people buried there. Below is the Triclinium, a banqueting hall. On the opposing cliff face there is a double inscription in Nabataean and Greek that refers to a burial monument. Written by “Abdomanchos”, it indicates that the tomb was to be used for himself and his family, probably in the reign of Malichus II (40-70 AD).
The Dam. This was build by the Nabataeans to diver the flash floods of Wadi Musa from the Siq to Wadi Al Mudhlim and Wadi Al Mataha. A tunnel, which is 88m in length, was cut in the rock for this purpose. The Nabataeans were masters in hydrological engineering.
The Siq. This narrow gorge leads visitors into Petra. The Siq resulted from a natural splitting of the mountain and is 1.2 km long. A triumphal arch once spanned the entrance to it. Two water channels run along both rock sides. As well as presenting a dramatic entryway into Petra, the Siq also holds many relics from Petra’s past, including a paved road, Sabinos Alexendros Station, and Nabataean baetyls (sacred stones).
The Treasury (Al Khazna). The Siq opens up onto Petra’s most magnificent facade; the Treasury, or Al Khazna. It is almost 40 meters high and intricately decorated with Corinthian capitals, friezes, figures and more. The Treasury is crowned by a funerary urn, which according to local legend conceals a pharaoh’s treasure. The Treasury was probably constructed in the 1st century BC.
The Street of Facades. This is the name given to the row of monumental Nabataean tombs carved in the southern cliff face that lies past the Treasury and adjacent to the outer Siq. The facades are crowned with corner crow – steps, pilasters and cavettos. Tomb 67 is remarkable for its upper cave, probably used to store the tools of the workers who built them. Tomb 825 is a Nabataean funerary monument topped by the side half crow – steps and an Egyptian cavetto.
High Place of Sacrifice. A place of worship on a mountain plateau, you can reach the High Place of Sacrifice by climbing rock – cur steps to the top where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the ancient city below. The High Place was used for important religious ceremonies.
The Theatre. Carved into the side of the mountain at the foot of the High Place of Sacrifice, the theatre consists of three rows of seats separeted by passageways. Seven stairways ascend the auditorium and it can accommodate 4000 spectators. The back wall of the stage was rebuilt by the Romans. This is the only theatre in the world carved into the rock.
The Royal Tombs. This is the name given to the four magnificent facades adjacent to each other on the right side at the end of the main path through the middle of the city. The four structures are.
The Nymphaeum. This is a semi – circular public fountain near the junction of Wadi Musa and Wadi Al-Mataha. Six Nabataean columns decorated the facade and it received water from a tank located on the opposite side of the valley. It is shaded by a wild pistachio tree that is 450 years old.
The church was probably built around the end of the 5th century AD and was destroyed by a fire or probably an earthquake in the following century. Much of the building material such as the capitals, door jambs and relief were re-used from earlier monuments in Petra. The quality of the floor mosaics, which pave both side aisles and are well preserved, attest to the church’s significance.
The Colonnades Street. The street represents an original Nabataean creation, later refurbished during the period of Roman occupation. It would have been on the principal shopping streets of ancient Petra.
The Great Temple Complex represents on of the major archaeological and architectural monuments of central Petra. It is estimated to cover an area of 7000 square meters, including the north and south of the monumental entryway, or lower temenos (holy enclosure), and an upper temenos – the sacred enclosure for the temple itself.
Approximately 15m high, the columns plus the entablature they carried would place the original temple height at a minimum of 18m. The style and quality of the temple’s elaborate floral friezes and acanthus – laden limestone capitals suggest that the sanctuary was constructed by the end of the 1st century BC by the Nabataeans who combined their native traditions with the classical spirit.
Qasr al-Bint. The monuments is almost square and is set on a podium. It was the main and most important temple of Petra, dedicated to Dushara. It still stands 23m high today. The temple is approached by a flight of 26 marble steps. The rear of the sanctuary is occupied by three distinct elements; the middle one protects the altar platform that housed gods and goddesses and the two other had balcony terraces. The temple dates to the first half of the 1st century AD.
The Lion Triclinium. This can be seen on the way to Ad Deir and is so-named because of two lions carved on both sides of the entrance. The facade is decorated with a band of grooves (triglyphs) and spaces (metopes) with the head of Medusa at each end. There are two benches inside, and a baetyl (god block) in a niche is carved to the left of the doorway.
Ad Deir, or the Monastery, is one of the largest monuments in Petra measuring 47m wide by 48.3m high. The interior is occupied by two side benches and an altar against the rear wall. This space was used as a biclinium for the meetings of religious associations. The Monastery dates to the early 2nd century AD, during the reign of King Rabel II. The hall was later re-used as a Crhristian chapel and crosses were carved into the rear wall, this is how the structure got its name.
Little Petra (Siq al-Barid) is located 8 km north of Petra. There are buildings carved into the walls of the sandstone canyons, it is much smaller, consisting of three wider open areas connected by a 450 m canyon ant it is part of Petra Archeological Park.
Little Petra was found in the later 20th century by Diana Kirkbride and Brian Byrd. It was probably built during the height of Nabataean influence during the 1st century C.E, when the Nabataean culture was at its peak in the region. When the Swiss traveler Jacob Burckhardt was found Petra, he did not go to north, or did not write about it. Only in 1950s Diana Kirkbride digs in Beidha area, in which included Little Petra and this digs continued until 1983.
Little Petra, among other satellite sites, were included in the 264-square-kilometre.
Like Petra, Little Petra is open to the public during the daytime and does not require an admission ticket and fee as Petra does. Little Petra is less crowded and more relaxed than Petra.
Coordinates: 30.375236, 35.452043
- Petra is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1985, and it was announced as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World during a star-studded event held on July 7th, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal.
- Please report any mistreatment of animals to the Visitor Center, tourist police or park rangers. Riding unlicensed animal is at your own risk.
- Sleeping inside park is prohibited. You are kindly requested to leave the site before sunset.
- If you are lost stay calm and try to figure out where you are. Four repetitions of any signal are a sign of distress.
- On rainy days avoid wadis and narrow areas subject to sudden flooding. Don’t attempts to cross a flowing stream and stay in a safe place.
- Entrance fee to the Petra: one day ticket – 50 JOD, two days ticket – 55 JOD, three days ticket – 60 JOD, with Jordan Pass for free. If you buy Jordan Pass you will not pay for the visa. More information about Jordan pass: https://www.jordanpass.jo, with Jordan Pass you can get free entrance over than 40 attractions, stay a minimum of three nights (4 days) and it will not buy a Jordan visa;
- Free car parking near the Petra visitor Centre (the place there your journey starts). Coordinates: 30.324417, 35.467868;
- In the Visitor centre you can buy tour with local guide, it cost 50-100 JOD;
- If you decide to visit all Petra it will be 8 km one way, do not forget hiking shoes, water and hat;
- You can booked electric car or carriage to the Al Khazneh (Treasury). If you do not what to overpay for service, is the best way to booked services in the Visitor centre;
- Local people want to get the money at the tourists in all ways. On of the service is to hike to the top to visit Al Khazneh (Treasury). Local people help you to reach this place, but it costs about 10 EUR. You have to pay extra for the place in the top where view looks better. Don’t forget deal with locals to get the better price. If you have a problem with local people importunity ask the help for the police;
- You can ride on the camels in the Petra, but do not forget to deal with locals before the ride if you want to get the better price;
- We are recommending to spend one day in the Petra;
- Hotel near the Petra Esperanza Petra;
- Special car rental prices in Jordan;