The Sik, Petra, Jordan

Guide to Petra

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Although much has been written about Petra, nothing really prepares you for when you take your first glimpse of this rose-red city.

‘One of the most precious cultural properties of mans cultural heritage’ is how Petra is described by UNESCO. Petra was designated a world heritage site in 1985.

Petra is a vast and unique city, half built and half carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans over 2000 years ago. It lies between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and was an integral crossroads for trade routes that linked China, India and Southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome.

Excitement mounts as you walk through the Siq, a narrow gorge over 1 kilometre in length, flanked on either side by towering, 80 metre high cliffs. The rock formations and colours are dazzling and as you approach the end of the Siq, you will take your first, breath-taking glimpse of a true wonder of the world – Al-Khazneh (Treasury) in Petra City.

This awe-inspiring entrance is just the first of many wonders that make up Petra. Other incredible sites include a three thousand seater Roman-style theatre, sacrificial altars, tombs, obelisks and temples.

A climb of 800 rock cut steps takes you up to the impressive Ad-Deor Monastery, the largest of the temples which offers incredible views over Petra and the Jordan valley.

Top Tips

  • Wear really, really comfy shoes – there’s a lot of walking and the ground can be quite loose and uneven!
  • Take a hat – otherwise you’ll need to buy an Indiana Jones style on at the entrance…
  • Make sure you’ve got sunscreen – put some on before you go in, as you’ll be so overwhelmed at first, you’ll never remember! And let’s face it; you don’t want to be pinker than Petra, do you?
  • Photo’s – for budding photographers, the best time to visit Petra is either early to mid-morning or late afternoon, when the angled sun highlights and enhances the amazing natural colours of the rocks.

Did you know?

The Nabataean city of Petra made its Hollywood debut in 1989 in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” starring Harrison Ford.

Petra is sometimes called the ‘Lost City’. In spite of its being such an important city in antiquity, after the 14th century AD, Petra was completely lost to the western world. It was rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who tricked his way into the fiercely guarded site by pretending to be an Arab from India wishing to make a sacrifice at the tomb of the Prophet Aaron.

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