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Visiting Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

created by guest on 2017-08-03

Visiting Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

A visit to the abandoned city of Petra marks the cultural highlight of every Jordan trip. Rediscovered two hundred years ago under challenging circumstances, the settlement, which had been forgotten for centuries, is one of the most mystical places on the planet. In 2007, it officially received the distinction of a "new wonder of the world," but for fanatics another honor carries more weight: Petra's monuments were used as the backdrop for the third Indiana Jones movie - any place Indy shows up is not likely to be commonplace.

In fact, it was a Swiss native who dragged Petra into the public spotlight. Disguised as a Bedouin, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt came to the hidden mountain basin in 1812, which had fallen into oblivion after the 14th century. Since then, desert nomads have guarded the magnificent monuments of the legendary canyon city. Temples, theaters, and red sandstone tombs testify to the wealth of the once-thriving desert capital. The nomadic Nabataeans people had carved Petra out of the rock over 2,000 years ago ("petra" is Greek for "stone" or "rock"). Its location at the junction of several major trade routes secured influence and riches for the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom before the Romans invaded.

Today, on the 200th anniversary of its rediscovery, Jordan's tourism has arrived in the former ghost town. Since the 1920s, archaeologists have unearthed some 800 monuments - enough for even more explorations in Petra. The entrance is at the end of the access road leading away from the village of Wadi Musa - here a visitor's center with parking welcomes the visitors to Petra. Then the path passes through the Siq, a towering canyon of a hundred meters in height, and reaches after about 1.2 km the world-famous and always mysterious treasure house Al-Khazneh. Its red rock wall - about 40 meters high and perfectly chiseled - is rightly emblazoned on almost all Petra advertising posters.

Now the road passes gravesite monuments on the way to the far ravine. The ancient theater was built by the Nabataeans and expanded by the Romans to 7,000 seats - across the way you can see the facades of other royal tombs. The colonnaded street leads to the so-called Temple of Qasr al-Bint Fara'un, which was probably named (incorrectly) after the daughter of the pharaoh. The two museums near Petra are also a worthwhile program point, as are short hikes to higher situated sights. The sacrificial site and the magnificent monastery of Ad-Deir with its monumental façade are also available.

Anyone who wants to experience the mystical rock monuments of Petra in the flickering candlelight should take the guided tour "Petra by Night." The tour begins at 8:30 p.m. at the visitor center by the entrance to the city. The show is only on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, from 8:30 till 10pm, and runs throughout the year.
  • 1
    Petra

    34 votes

    City

    Petra (Arabic: البتراء, Al-Batrāʾ; Ancient Greek: Πέτρα), originally known to its inhabitants as ...

  • 2
    Wadi Musa

    2 votes

    Sight

    From Wadi Musa leads the only access road to the rock city of Petra. The village knew very well h...

  • 3
    Bab a-Siq

    1 votes

    Sight

    The entrance to Petra is a long, winding sandstone canyon (about 2 km). There are minor carvings ...

  • 4
    Al Khazneh

    2 votes

    Sight

    Upon exiting the Siq, visitors can view this jaw-dropping grandeur. Be sure to note the urn atop ...

  • 5
    King's Graves

    1 votes

    Sight

  • 6
    Theater

    1 votes

    Sight

  • 7
    Colonnaded Street

    1 votes

    Sight

  • 8
    Qasr al-Bint Faraun

    2 votes

    Sight

  • 9
    Petra Museum

    2 votes

    Museum / Gallery

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