Visit Petra, it will be an unforgettable adventure.

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans, nomads, and Indiana Jones as you explore the ancient monuments of Petra in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert

The city of Petra is the most visited tourist site in Jordan. It’s one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” and Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. We offer you a complete guide to help you visit Petra in Jordan with a historical and practical approach!

A little history and geography about Petra

An ancient city in Jordan, Petra was once the capital of the Nabataean people. They were traders who came to dominate international trade in the Middle East 2000 years ago. After a meteoric rise to power, they briefly challenged the power of Rome before succumbing. They then disappeared from history.

The Nabataeans were originally a tribe of Arab nomads who ventured into the desert around the 5th century BC, and settled in the Shara Mountains in southern Jordan, at the crossroads of trade routes. 

In 350 BC, they gave up looting camel caravans in favor of charging merchants a tax for their safe passage. Standing at a nerve center of trade between Asia, Arabia, and the Mediterranean, their base at Petra (a Greek name meaning “rock”) grew fabulously rich. 

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Frankincense and myrrh arrived from Yemen. Pepper, sugar, ginger, and cotton were traded with India. Merchants traded Chinese silks for gold and silver. When the Roman general Pompey arrived to attack Petra in 62 BC, the Nabataeans simply bought it.

In the first century AD, Petra was home to perhaps 35,000 people. The Roman geographer Strabo described it as a cosmopolitan city, full of beautiful buildings and gardens.

This was the case for a thousand years until the Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt persuaded the Bedouin to guide him to the ruins in 1812. The “rediscovery” of the legendary city fueled a renewed interest among travelers and archaeologists that continues to this day.

Why visit Petra?

Petra is one of the world’s most fascinating historical sites, combining romance, visual theater, and adventure. A first glimpse of the Khazneh, one of Petra’s treasures, which is the iconic facade made famous in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, will stay with you for a long time.

The Nabataeans built the Khazneh, the “Pharaoh’s treasure”, and most of Petra’s grandiose buildings such as the sculptures carved into the sandstone cliffs. It’s this display of human creativity in this rugged environment that made Petra so remarkable. 

Ornate facades, in a unique Nabataean style with Egyptian and Assyrian elements, still line the valley, creating a panorama of architectural riches beneath rocks hundreds of meters high.

To this, you can add a sense of the supernatural due to the events of history, Bible stories, legends, and local tales. All of them converge on a trip to Petra, against a cinematic backdrop of hidden valleys, inaccessible peaks, and bottomless ravines.

The must-sees in Petra

It’s essential to know that Petra has to be earned. You’ll have to walk a lot because all the monuments are located far away. We advise you to cover yourself and bring water because the temperatures can quickly rise and there are few shady places once you have passed the Siq. We, therefore, advise you to visit Petra early in the morning (the site is open from 6 am) or late in the afternoon. 

The tombs of gaïa

Before arriving in the heart of Petra and beginning a long time walking in the heat, you’ll pass in front of the tombs of Gaia

  • the Tower-Tombs or Djinn Blocks, 
  • the Triclinium, 
  • and the Tomb with obelisks.

The sîq

The Sîq is a long corridor which is a natural canyon of 1200 m, which is the gateway to the ancient city. The entrance to the Sîq was surmounted by a large arch. Only traces remain today on one side of the canyon, due to the ravages of erosion, earthquakes, and floods.

The khazneh or pharaoh’s treasure 

This monument will be your first favorite in Petra. At the end of the Sîq, you’ll see it through the fault. This Nabatean tomb of which you’ll only see the facade presents magnificent sculptures witnessing its rich past. 

The street of the facades

After the Khazneh, you can go on your right to the street of the facades, which corresponds to several Nabatean tombs, more or less large and more or less well-preserved. Like everything else you will see in Petra, it’s the facade that remains the most interesting. 

The roman theater 

On the other side of these tombs, you find the Roman theater, which is finally a Nabatean theater and a little before, the path to the High Place of Sacrifice! This is one of the most physical hikes to do in Petra, the view is impressive but breathtaking.

On the way to the Deir 

If you continue your way after the street of the facades, you’ll be able to admire, on one side, the temple of Qasr al-Bint, and on the other side, the Byzantine church, and its magnificent mosaics. 

The last place to visit, the farthest from the entrance, is the monastery of Deir, the most difficult place to access. More than 800 steps (about 1 hour of travel), separate you from a superb temple even more beautiful and bigger than the magnificent Khazneh. Don’t hesitate to take breaks and admire the view all along the way! 

The scams of Petra

You may be told that your ticket includes a horseback ride. Be careful because they’ll certainly ask you later for a little more money for the service. You can do it on foot. 

You’ll often be asked to take pictures higher up, with a better view, especially at the level of the Pharaoh’s Treasury. If you wish to do so, don’t hesitate, but you’ll have to pay money!

And after Petra?

Don’t hesitate to enjoy a walk in the city of Wadi Musa after your adventures in the ancient city. We advise you to go to the Time Out restaurant, where the staff and the food are fantastic! You can also do Petra by night, where there is a show and candles arranged several days a week (for a special ticket).




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