Petra

Petra The Treasury JordonPetra is a famous ancient city carved into pink rocks in the middle of a desert south of Amman, the capital of Jordan. Also known as the “Rose City” because of the colour of the rocks, it was the home of the Nabataeans, an ancient civilization that flourished around two thousand years ago. It was hidden for hundreds of years and was only introduced to the world in the 19th century.

World Heritage Site

Since then it’s become a popular tourist destination, and was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. Petra is one of the “Eight Wonders of the Modern World,” along with Chichen Itza, Christ the Redeemer, the Coliseum, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, and the honorary member, the Giza Pyramids.

How To Get There

Petra can be reached by bus, minibus, guided tour, taxi or car from Amman. This trip takes about three hours. There are several hotels in the small town outside the entrance to Petra, as well as restaurants.

Petra is an archaeological park, so an entrance fee is charged. After paying this fee at the front gate, visitors walk down through the “Siq,” a long narrow sandstone canyon with vertical walls. There are some carvings in the rock walls along the way, and there are remains of terra cotta pipes built during Roman times to carry water down into the valley.

The visitor will be astounded at the beauty of the Treasury, the most famous building in Petra. This magnificent rose-coloured building is carved directly into the face of the rock, and it sits in a small open area, thus heightening the visual impact for first time visitors as they exit the Siq.

Streets of Facades

Beyond the Treasury is a long passageway known as the Street of Facades. There are many tombs cut into the rock walls here. Most visitors continue wandering down the Street of Facades to see the Royal Tombs and the Great Temple.

But curious and energetic adventurers will want to take a left part of the way down the Street of Facades and head up into the mountain. The rewards far outweigh the time and energy spent on this little side trip.

Lion Fountain

The path meanders up and down hills, past rocks and shrubs, and eventually ends up at the High Place of Sacrifice with its rock altars, and the nearby Crusader Fort. After this, the path leads down the other side of this mountain to Wadi al-Farasa. This valley is full of interesting sights, such as the Tomb of the Roman Soldier, the Lion Fountain, the Garden Tomb and Cistern, the Triclinium (or Feast Hall), and the Renaissance Tomb. This path is not very often travelled, so it can be a quiet and peaceful respite from the crowds around the Treasury.

The Monastry

The other famous building is called the Monastery. It is located on top of a mountain at some distance from the Treasury and the Street of Facades, and is at the end of an uphill hike of some 800 steps. This is another beautifully carved building, and from near this building there are unbelievably spectacular views down over Jordan towards Israel: not to be missed!

Jordan

Jordan is a small country in the Middle East, but it offers many delights to travellers, not the least of which is the fabulous “Rose City” of Petra!

About Edward

Edward Alan Kurtz is an American writer. He specializes in writing works of fiction and non-fiction for children, as well as travel books and articles. Mr. Kurtz was born in Pennsylvania and completed several university degrees. He lived for many years in Honolulu, Hawaii, and now lives and writes in Thailand.