A world wonder; UNESCO World Heritage Site and Jordan’s most valuable treasure, Petra is Jordan’s greatest tourist attraction. This vast and unique city is carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab civilization, who settled here more than 2,000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India, and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome.
For centuries, the Nabataean Kingdom thrived and Petra became widely admired for its refined culture, expansive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels. Ultimately, however, the Roman Emperor Trajan annexed the Kingdom. By the 14th century, Petra was completely lost to the West, and so it remained for almost 300 years. Then in 1812, a Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, persuaded his guide to take him to the site of the rumoured lost city. Secretly making notes and sketches, he wrote: “It seems very probable that the ruins at Wadi Musa are those of the ancient Petra.”
Much of Petra’s appeal comes from its spectacular setting deep inside a narrow desert gorge. The site is accessed by walking through a kilometre long chasm (or Siq), the walls of which soar 200 meters upwards. Petra’s most famous monument, the Treasury, appears dramatically at the end of the Siq. The towering facade of the Treasury is only one of the myriad archaeological wonders to be explored.
Various walks and climbs reveal literally hundreds of buildings, tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples, arched gateways, collonaded streets as well as a 3000 seat open-air amphitheatre, a gigantic first century Nabatean Temple (the Monastery) and a modern archaeological museum, all of which can be explored at leisure. A modest shrine commemorating the death of Aaron, brother of Moses, was built in the 13th century high atop mount Aaron in the Sharah range.
The Best Views of Petra:
The Treasury from above
Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Treasury by hiking the Al-Khubtha trail. This ancient stair-stepped trail will guide you from the Royal tombs up through amazing scenery overlooking the beautiful and impressive monuments and structures of Petra. You will reach an astonishing view of the Treasury with the opportunity of drinking a refreshing Bedouin tea.
The High Place of Sacrifice
From the main trail after the Siq and the theatre climb Jebel Madbah Mountain and reach the High place of Sacrifice, Petra’s best-preserved sacrificial site. This was the place where ancient’s offerings to the gods took place. The path to the altar of sacrifices is carved in the pink and orange sandstone cliffs and offers a spectacular view of Petra from the south.
The Monastery Route
Climb 1000 stairs to reach the Monastery, one of the best places to enjoy the timeless beauty of Petra. Isolated from the main sites, the Monastery lies on one of the northern plateaus of Wadi Musa. Contrary to what the name suggests, the Monastery was never a monastery, as it was originally a Nabatean temple and was later converted to a church. Recommended time for hiking is late afternoon when the trail is in the shade and the Monastery façade glows orange in the setting sun.
Petra Kitchen offers a unique dining experience for guests who are not only wanting to taste authentic Jordanian food but also have a go at preparing it. Visitors work alongside experienced chefs in this distinctive restaurant and learn to prepare typical dishes with local produce. By sharing in the creation, flavouring and presentation of the meal, guests are able to truly appreciate the flavours and techniques that make Jordanian food so memorable. Great care has been taken to make it a truly local experience—right down to the furnishings, all crafted in Jordan, the tableware, all produced by the Iraq al-Amir Women’s Co-operative, and the aprons and table linens, all hand-embroidered by the Jordan River Foundation. Join Ali and his team for an evening to remember and an inside glimpse of the secrets behind the famous regional cuisine of the Levant.