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Petra the splendid hidden city of stone

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What is petra?

Petra is a very old city built in the desert, was founded around 300 a.c. completely excavated in the rocks by the Nabataeans, a hard-working Arabian tribe that settled in the area more than 2,000 years ago and turned it into an important city of passage that linked the silk, the spice and other routes that They connected China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. It is considered one of the wonders of the ancient world, Petra is the most precious treasure of Jordan and its most important tourist attraction.

In which country is Petra?

It is located between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba belonging to the country of Jordan, it is one of its most important cities since it is a treasure of archeology.

It is located approximately 200 kilometers from the capital of Jordan (Amman) Petra is known to be the ancient capital of the Nabatean kingdom. Its name is of Greek origin and means stone because it was excavated and sculpted from pure stones. Geographically it is located in the Edon Valley to the east of the Araba Valley at an altitude of 1390 meters above sea level. It is a very safe city that can be reached by three directions:

To the Northwest we find a small narrow passage between the mountains.

To the east is a canyon 200 meters high and approximately one kilometer long.

The Siq is the main street appreciated by tourists for looking like a "secret passageway".

How was Petra built?

The magnificent city of the desert was built by the Nabataeans, who in turn used the large rocks to sculpt their great works on it, many theories say that the Nabataeans used scaffolding to carve their works at great heights, to what researchers today in day check that the Nabateans carved a natural platform in the rock, which used as a cornice to work on, the main difference between independent buildings and these monuments worked in rock is the starting point, in the buildings we start with the foundations from bottom to top, while in the carved monuments you start from the top down.

Who were the Nabataeans?

The Nabateans were originally nomadic tribes from the Arabian Peninsula, acquired great fame for their commercial activities and control over trade routes. Thanks to their camel caravans that roamed the Arabian desert, the Nabataeans dominated the trade in science and spices.

Who discovered Petra?

The traveler, archaeologist and Swiss spy Johann Ludwig Burckhardt was the first European who managed to reach the ruins of this city, in August 1812, accompanied by a guide.

Johann Ludwig Burckhardt was in great danger because Europeans were forbidden to roam these areas, this Swiss explorer studied the Arabic language and Islam, in order to disguise himself as an Indian Muslim and with the people of the area, he had travel disguised as a local. He also could not stop to take notes or notes, but he found that those magnificent ruins of a temple carved into the pink rock, at the end of a gorge, corresponding to the ancient capital of the Nabateans.

The explored Swiss Jean Burckhardt made an expedition to Petra disguised as an Arab, he entered the city with the little lie that he was going to sacrifice a goat to the prophet Aaron so he could enter because in 1812 the religious situation was already quite tense and the current inhabitants of Petra did not like intruders. Excited by this finding, I spread the news among Westerners who were in the vicinity and I speak of Petra in his book Travels in Syria and the Holy Land.

Beginning in 1828, the first archaeological expeditions began in Petra. From 1830 it became a place of visit for historians, travelers, archaeologists, and forms part of religious pilgrimages. Since the chiefs of the tribes saw that tourism was something beneficial for them, little by little they gave in and eliminated the restrictions.

Petra as a wonder of the world

Petra is a huge city carved in stone, which was once a very important passing city, since it gathered the routes of silk, incense and spices that connected the south of Arabia, China and India, with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. The city of Petra has many buildings, but the most impressive and beautiful ones are El Tesoro or "Al-Khazneh" and El Monasterio "Ad-Deir".

This wonder of the world was considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and since July 7, 2007, it became part of The New Wonders of the Modern World.

What can I do in Petra?

Petra is part of the 7 wonders of the world. It is a beautiful city sculpted and carved from the rocks, just imagine a photo in front of your buildings! You will be the envy of your friends. Currently it represents one of the most touristic places in Jordan without a doubt it is ideal for a vacation out of the ordinary.

At the entrance to Petra are the 20 rocks called Jins that represent the Gods guarding the city. You can visit the theater that was originally built by the Nabataeans since the first century, its temple the cast al-bin, some churches of Greco-Roman style and its main street the Siq which is a kind of passageway.

It has important archaeological museums. The first one is in a Nabataean cave with Roman and Edomite objects. The second is the Nabatean museum in Petra, which has pieces that tell the history of the city.

One of its main attractions is the treasure building, sculpted entirely in rock. It also has several ancient tombs such as the obelisk, the urn and the Corinthian tomb, the one on the floors and many more. In addition, it has several sanctuaries, the famous Conway tower, and you can also enjoy its restaurants with the best Mediterranean food.

It is a holiday destination where it is impossible to get bored, if you are passionate about the history of the world, you can not miss it. Make sure you do not forget your camera when you visit the city.

The Treasury of Petra

The treasure or Jazné is one of the structures beautifully carved in the reddish rock, with forty meters high thirty meters wide. On its facade there are several figures with human forms. On the second level and in the middle, there is a beautifully carved woman, like a goddess with her flowing dress and on both sides there is a collection of very damaged statues.

The entrance with a height of ten meters, leads to a large chamber where three more chambers are located, dug in the center of each wall; all without decoration.

Petra in theaters, Indiana Jones

Another curiosity for movie lovers is that this beautiful city was part of Hollywood, as one of its most emblematic buildings, the khazneh or the treasure building, was used in the filming of the Indiana Jones movie and the last crusade; Of course, the interior part of the interior scenes where the Holy Grail was located are the work of the magic of cinema, but the architectural work was only used as an external façade, it should be noted that the film crew were received in Petra with great hospitality and the filming only lasted a week in the city.

Visit petra

To visit the city you must first cross the Siq, a narrow red canyon a kilometer long, surrounded by cliffs up to 80 meters high. At the end of the Siq you will see, for the first time, the façade of "El Tesoro" or Al-Khazneh, an immense façade 30 m wide and 43 m high, excavated in the rock, and that eclipses everything around it. This was the tomb of an important Nabatean king and is a sample of the architectural talent of this ancient town.

Petra at night

One of the most popular activities in Petra is to visit the citadel at night. Petra by night is one of the excursions in Petra that you can take as a complement to the day tour. You can see the entrance to El Tesoro and the Siq, illuminated by hundreds of candles that will take your breath away. In addition, you can enjoy a small folkloric show. It is a nighttime tourist show that combines candles and lights with traditional music. Especially nice is to see the whole Siq lit with candles that are signaling the way.

Mapa de Petra

Cities near Petra

The cities that we can find in the vicinity of Petra, is the aforementioned Amman, which is the capital of Jordan, which can be reached in about three hours by car from Petra. Other cities that are relatively close to Petra is Jerusalem, Palestine is also the iconic Jordan River, is also located near the Saudi Arabian.

When is it cheaper to travel to Jordan and visit Petra?

Definitely it is much cheaper to travel to Jordan during the summer, where you will find everything at a reduced price. However Jordan is not an expensive destination, although tourism has been growing over the years and therefore prices have been rising, it is still cheap and even more so if you travel with MOMONDO . If we must compare, we can say that it is more similar to the cost of traveling to Spain, but not like traveling to Holland. Even, neighboring countries like Egypt, is usually much more expensive.

Tips for traveling to Petra


Petra is in a mountainous region, with passages and small canyons eroded into the rock. The walk to El Tesoro can be long, so it is recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes, light clothes and a cap to protect yourself from the sun.


To visit Petra, do not forget to bring plenty of water in a bottle to drink during the walk through the Siq. You can also take something to eat to enjoy one of the best picnics of your life, or visit some of the buffets and taste the typical Arab food.

When to go

The best time to visit Petra and take the most beautiful pictures is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. In those moments, the sunlight highlights on the reddish stone giving some beautiful tonalities to the photos.


Petra does not allow access to any type of vehicle. If you do not want to do the 1 km walk through the Siq you can rent a horse or a carriage, and inside the enclosure you can ride a camel or a donkey. For the elderly or disabled, the Visitor Center grants special permission for their transfer.

Documentary about Petra


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