A breathtaking and rustic capital, Petra – if it were not for being in the little known corner of Arabia that is Jordan – would probably be acclaimed along side the likes of Cairo and Rome in terms of cities that those with any interest in history just have to see.
Once the capital of the magnificent Nabataean Kingdom before being absorbed into the Roman Empire more than two centuries ago, many of the stone, pillared structures of Petra still stand tall, and became a smash tourist draw in the late 80s after being featured in an Indiana Jones movie. The ruins themselves are actually a massive archaeological park these days, protected by UNESCO, and entered through a lengthy and picturesque sandstone valley known as Siq.
On exiting the valley you’ll find yourself staring at the Treasury, a building that’s rumoured to hold the lost treasure of a pharaoh in its ornate urn (check out the pock marks where explorers have tested the theory). Take a good look around and you’ll come across all kinds of wonders, from the facades of countless tombs built into the cliff sides to a 7000-seat theatre adapted by the Romans and still in sporadic use to this day.
Most stay in the archaeological area and soak up the sights (arrive at the crack of dawn if you want to beat the crowds), but some more intrepid adventurers head past the Monastery and trek for several hours to Jabal Haroun peak, taking the chance to stare down at it all and out across the craggy desert scenery for miles around. If you have a second or third day, this gives a great alternative angle on the sights, while another soaring viewpoint can be found at the ‘High Place of Sacrifice’, where numerous tombs lie on the hilltop and add weight to the spooky name.
There’s so much history to research and discover around Petra that those with historical leanings could bed down for weeks without any risks of getting bored. For us mere mortals, a day or three amongst some of the world’s most impressive ruins is more than striking enough.
Wadi Musa, also known as Little Petra. It is the town that sits at the gate to the world famous site of Petra. This town offers many hotels for all prices and tastes, one of which even has a …