A Miracle of Sandstone: Petra

A Miracle of Sandstone: Petra

Choose your color! The place we are going to talk about now is not only among the most exciting regions of the world but also a breathtaking sandstone city that dresses in the colors of red, orange, yellow, and pink depending on the angle of the sun: Petra.

Among the biggest treasures of Jordan in tourism, the Ancient City of Petra is the work of the wealthy and short-lived Nabataean Kingdom, which had carved palaces, temples, tombs, cellars, and barns into soft rocks and influenced the region between the 4th and 1st centuries BC.

Reserve two days

This mysterious city, which entered the list of New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which needs almost no advertising at all since it is worldwide famous. A trip taken to this place deserves two days and a trip to Jordan will be incomplete without seeing Petra. Trying to see everything there is to see in Petra in one day will be physically challenging. The distances are long, the climate is hard and outdoor areas require climbing to high places. Do not be scared, you don’t have to be a climber to see Petra, you just need to be prepared. Ideally, one day to explore the main monuments and another day to better dig the glory of this world wonder would be a good choice… Here is your guide to Petra!

Find the lost city

The entire Petra Archaeological Park covers an area of 264 square kilometers. The city center is only 6 square kilometers. Although it is possible to ride on camels, donkeys or horses, you can only access down to the depths of Petra on foot. This is a rare ancient city. The wind has found its way into the heart of nature. Deserted canyons, honeycomb tombs take you to another time and planet. The region reached through narrow crevices and canyons is spread over many mountains. The ancient city also lies in dry river beds in parts. Until the 19th century, Petra was a lost city only known to the nomadic Arabs. In 1812, the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt rediscovered the ancient city upon rumors he had heard.

Start with the sunrise

Beginning the journey at dawn means seeing the most special views of Petra since most of the tourists and horse and donkey renters have not yet emerged. The desert is dominated by silence. You pass through the old gods on the right, and the tombs on the left; the road enters partial darkness. This is a narrow passage known as Siq. It leads visitors through the red stone walls of Petra’s temple and other areas. This sacred corridor is cold at dawn, but the details should not be overlooked; a fig tree sprouting from a rock, an ancient water canal continuing from the hill, altars pointing to the centuries-old sacred spots…

Capture an unforgettable moment

One of the most memorable moments you will experience in Petra is the moment when the Siq embraces the sun and the Treasury appears to you. The Treasury in Petra is one of the most iconic places in the world. Petra welcomes you as soon as you exit the darkness of the passage and come face to face with that honey-colored facade. As the sun hits the columns, many other details are illuminated. Depending on the time of year, the sun fills into the rock-carved structure at different times in the morning.

Step into the magnificent city

The biggest feature of the city is the tombs. After the Treasury, the pathway reaches a wide sandstone corridor, surrounded by tombs on both sides. Petra, believed to be a necropolis for many years, later became the center of the Nabataean Kingdom. Although the houses of the city have been destroyed, the main street ruins, market place, temples, a theater, and a church belonging to the early period are the indications that Petra was a city for the living as well as for the dead. You should climb up to one of the hills in front of the Treasury and look at the landscape from this perspective.

Look from far up

In Petra, the high points of the city were considered to be the most sacred, and the ceremonial steps in the entire area used to extend from the valley to the hills. It is possible to reach one of the most important of those high points by a stairway near the theater. There are two obelisks carved into the rock and a platform probably for the sacrifice. The half-hour climb brings the most beautiful views of the ancient city to you. Also, the descent from Wadi Farasa is a pleasure. With wildflowers, enchanting landscapes, old water canals, and tombs, this is Petra’s hidden gem. Towards the end of the descent, the tombs are breathtaking with their shapes and colors, although you see more goats, lizards, and scorpions than humans around.

 

Become captured by the monastery’s mystery

It’s hard to say I saw Petra without visiting the El-Deir Monastery. The function of the monastery is unknown. This extraordinary structure carved into the rock, which is one of the oldest worship places in Jordan and which attracts attention with its unique crown, is reached via 800 steps. The sun exposes the golden color of the sandstone facade in the afternoon. It is worth seeing the Israeli and Palestinian lands, and the landscape that stretches along the Wadi Araba climbing to a nearby high point, especially at sunset.

Catch the shades of red

While it is pleasant to spend time in the monastery, another attraction will be waiting for you. As the sunset approaches, it is worth to be in the Royal Tombs of Petra. The last lights of the day on the tombs carved into the rock are really impressive. You have to leave Petra before it is dark, but despite your comfortable walking shoes, you may be too tired to walk the path. The solution is a camel to carry you to the Treasury. One last time before you leave, look at the Royal Tombs. The back of the camel is an ideal point of view to capture the melting shades of red.

Petra Night tour

How about seeing Petra in the moonlight before the effects of the day start wearing off? The two-hour Petra Night tour promises an otherworldly experience. Imagine walking along the Siq illuminated by 1500 candles accompanied by the traditional Bedouin music and mint tea.