Petra ; ( The Rose Red City ) Than ancient city of Petra is one of Jordan’s national treasures and by far its best known tourist attraction, located about three hours south of Amman. Petra the fabled "rose red city, half as old as time", is a well known ancient Nabataean city in the south of Jordan. Due to its breathtaking grandeur and fabulous ruins, Petra was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. After Saladin's conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.
The ruins remained hidden to most of the world until the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812. Burckhardt's accounts of his travels inspired other Western explorers and historians to discover the ancient city further. The most famous of these was David Roberts, a Scottish artist who created a number of accurate and detailed illustrations of the city in 1839. The first real excavations of the site were in 1929 after the forming of Trans-Jordan. Since that time, Petra has become by far Jordan's largest tourist attraction, partially due to the exposure by the Steven Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in 1989. Due to the fantastic engineering accomplishments and well-preserved dimension of Petra, the archaeological site was chosen in July 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The entrance to Petra is a long, winding sandstone canyon known as the Siq. There are minor carvings spotted here and there throughout the Siq, but the most impressive sights are the colorful and unusual sandstone patterns in the rock walls. There are also remains of terracotta pipes built into the sides of the canyon that were used in Roman times to carry water. Upon exiting the Siq, visitors can view the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Treasury (al-Khazneh in Arabic).
Be sure to note the urn atop the Treasury structure. It has been rumored that the urn contained a Pharaoh's hidden treasure, and the urn bears the bullet pock marks where Bedouin travellers throughout the years have tested the theory. Get there when the park opens at 6AM or 6:30AM (depending on the season) and you may have the Treasury all to yourself or with less than 5-10 people around. Past the next bend is the outer Siq or Street of Facades, a large canyon lined with the facades of various tombs. At the end of the Street of Facades is the 7000-seat Nabatean Theater. The theater was created by the Nabateans but later enlarged by the Romans. It is still used for occasional performances. On the side of the valley opposite the Roman Theater and a short walk up the hill, are the Royal Tombs.
The name was given because they are quite grand in scale compared to the others in the area, but it is unclear for whom the tombs were originally constructed. The Monastery (ad-Deir), the largest carved monument in Petra, dates back to the 1st century AD. The interior, like that of the Treasury, is puny in comparison to the facade. The more than 800 steps up to the Monastery can take over an hour; many visitors choose to ride donkeys up to the top. Princess Alia Clinic, Brooke Hospital for Animals  located just inside the entrance to the park. As you can witness inside Petra, not all donkeys, horses and camels are treated right. A few are overworked, carrying overweight tourist or being excessively whipped. The Brooke charity educates owners about the treatment of equestrian working animals and treats the animals for free. The clinic is happy to tell you about conditions for working animals in Jordan. You can give a donation to the clinic. For the terminally energetic, there are a number of popular hikes around Petra. In order to understand what in reality Petra is, it is better to spend there two days.
The first day: Siq - Treasury - City - Monastery.
The second day: another way to Petra through Wadi Muthlim - see the Treasury from above on Jebel Al -Khubtha - High Place of Sacrifice. If you enter Petra through Wadi Muthlim do not turn left right after the small Siq, firstly go right to see Aqueduct, Tunnel and Al-Wu'eira Fort and only after that return to Petra center. The High Place of Sacrifice is a popular destination in Petra. The site at the top of the mountain contains elaborate rock altars used for sacrifices. From the High Place, one can view much of Petra from above. The trek down the back side of the mountain reveals many interesting tombs and carvings that might be missed by average tourist. The round trip generally takes 1.5-2.5 hours. * The Mountain of Aaron (Jabal Haroun) is the highest peak in the area. At the top you will find a small church and the tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses. The route to the top and back will take you past the Monastery and will take 4-8 hours depending on your chosen path.
Petra Tourist Information Petra sights are at their best in early morning and late afternoon when the sun warms its multicolored stones. Prepare yourself to enjoy the most majestic and imposing ancient site still-standing nowadays.
- 1. Allow 1 to 3 days to tour Petra, bring water and some candies with you.
- 2. Guided Tours are available. Also, the staff of the Petra Visitor's Center at entrance of the site is at your service to answer your questions and willing to provide assistance. Maps and excellent guidebooks are on hand.
- 3. We suggest that you walk the one-kilometer-long Siq, or hire a horse-drawn carriage to enter the site. You can hire a donkey, horse, or camel inside the site (the donkey is very useful for climbing!).
- In all cases, it's better to hire a horse when leaving the site through the Siq.
- 4. Remember to pace yourself, as the site is large and can involve some fairly steep climbs. The way to Al-Deir takes about an hour with approximately 800 steps, and it takes about 35 minutes to the High Place of Sacrifice with approximately 1050 steps.
Suggested Tours :
Day 1: Al-Siq, The Treasury, Street of Facades, The Theater, The Royal Tombs, The City Center, Qasr Al-Bint Temple, Al-Habees Museum, Petra Archeological Museum, Al-Deir, and back.
Day 2: Al-Siq, The Treasury, High Place of Sacrifice, The Lion Monument, The Garden Temple Complex, The Triclinium, The Renaissance Tomb, The Broken Pediment Tomb, The Roman Soldier Tomb, and back.
What to Wear:
Sportswear, baggy pants, and walking shoes are advisable. Keep in mind the relative conservatism of Middle Eastern societies. Summer evenings can be quite cool, so one should be prepared to wear a shawl or sweater. Winters are cold, windy and rainy.