Exploring Petra: The Jewel In Jordan’s Crown
This far away ancient land, tucked deep within the deserts of Jordan, is an enigma that you must explore. Yes, Petra the lost city of Jordan certainly does have plenty of secrets in its kitty. And you have to witness its magnificence to understand why hundreds of thousands of tourists flock here each year. Alefiya Rashiq tells you all about this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is on the bucket list of most globetrotters.
While you may have seen many images of Petra on the internet, in documentaries and in movies (Indiana Jones!) the real sense of astonishment begins only when you actually reach here. Chiseled out of rose-red sandstone in a bygone era, Petra is a marvel that will delight you.
Meaning ‘rock’ in Greek, the ‘Rose City’ has a number of legends attached to it. Who built it, how it was built and what it offers tourists; read on as we uncover all of Petra’s secrets.
The Makings Of Petra, Jordan
Petra was carved out of stony desert mountains more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, a group of Arabs who settled in Jordan for trading purposes. They came along in their camel caravans, loaded with textiles, spices and more, and transformed a desert into a flourishing city with a population of approximately 20,000 people.
Over time, trade routes changed and the monumental tombs and architectural wonders that the Nabataeans created were lost and forgotten for centuries by the outside world. The ruins of the city were later discovered by Johann Ludwig, a Swiss traveller. Today, archeologists are still discovering things about Petra’s past and there is a lot about this bewildering city that will keep visitors interested.
Things To See & Do In Petra
A one-mile-long tapering gorge called the ‘Siq’ forms the main entrance to Petra. The meandering path makes for a very interesting walk, with a lot of shrines and carvings to see on both sides along the way. It builds up just the right amount of excitement leading up to the introduction of the amazing ancient world ahead. A bunch of photographs on the way are a must!
Once you walk through the gorge, you come to Al-Khazneh, better known as ‘The Treasury’, a rock-cut temple that is the most famous part of Petra, having been filmed in movies as well. A tour inside the monument showcases the classic Greek-influenced architecture.
Petra has a lot of tales to tell by day, however, it turns into a whole different experience at night. Nights at Petra are lit up with candles, Bedouin music and storytelling under the stars, and it makes for a magical experience.
The Roman Theatre
This gigantic theatre was initially built by Nabataeans, but was later expanded to its current size by the Romans. Carved out of the mountain, it can seat more than 7,000 people and is an inspiring sight to behold.
Other Petra Sites That Are Worth A Visit
Petra has a number of other eye-catching sites. The Monastery, a rock-cut structure that can be reached by climbing up 822 steps, the Royal Tombs, and the ‘Street of Facades’ are other important sites in Petra. Besides these, Petra also offers visitors several food and beverage experiences, with a cave restaurant and other eccentric dining options.
How To Get To Petra
Fly down to Amman and hop onto a bus or a taxi for a 5-hour drive to Petra. It is advisable to stay overnight at one of the many lodging options in Wadi Musa, a village with hotels, restaurants and markets that has sprung up on the outskirts of Petra. A brisk 10km walk from Wadi Musa will take you to the enchanting world of the Nabataean city.
Best Time To Visit Petra
Summers in Petra can get very hot, so it is best to visit here during the spring months of March to May or during the autumn months of September to November. The winter months can get freezing cold and should be be avoided. Wake up early to watch the sunrise at 5am to escape the heat and have the ancient city of Petra all to yourself.
Quick Guide To Petra
While one day may be enough to explore the ruins of Petra, the number of hours you spend here depends on your love for history and ancient architecture. In fact, there is enough one can do here, if one chooses to stay for a few days. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re visiting Petra:
Carry sunblock as the desert sun is harsh and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
It is best to pack snacks, even lunch, to save time, although there are restaurants on site if you need a break.
Entry passes for Petra can be purchased at the Visitor Centre in the nearby village of Wadi Musa.
Beware of the many unofficial tour operators that may try to attract your attention; it’s best to keep away!
Fact File On Jordan
Location: Jordan, Middle East
Official Language: Arabic
Currency: Jordanian Dinar (JD)
Food & Drinks: Hummus, Ful Medames, Jordanian Meze, Arak, Jordanian Wine
Time zone: EET (UTC+2)
A Pune’ite who is in love with the world, Alefiya Rashiq is a copywriter and a communications professional. Cracking into jigs, making quirky observations and her untimely giggles keep her going when she is not writing. Life is NOW, she believes!
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