Popularised by the movie Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and now a powerful monument and symbol of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Petra is one of the most rewarding sites to visit in all of the Middle East. Petra was a bustling trading center between around 400 BC and 106 AD. Petra was the capital of the ancient Nabataean Empire that coexisted with the Roman Empire for much of its history. It includes a mix of Nabatean, Greek, and Roman features. Today Petra is one of the main tourist attractions for Jordan - along with the incredible Dead Sea where you can chill and float.

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History Of Petra

Petra was "lost" to Europeans for hundreds of years. In the 1800s a traveler from Europe donned a Beduin costume. This Swiss traveler called Johannes Burckhardt then snuck in to get a glimpse of this mesmerizing ancient site.

Like so many ancient and mysterious sites, Petra has become shrouded in fact and fiction. We probably all know that Indian Jones and the Last Crusade notwithstanding, the site is not elaborately booby-trapped with the severed heads of Nazis littering the ground. It is also not the secret location of the Holy Grail (we know from Monty Python, that it's actually somewhere up in Scotland across the "Bridge of Death"). Today the locals will tell you this is the site that Moses from the Bible made water gush out of the rocks for the children of Israel to drink.

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  • Fun Fact: Petra Is Greek For Rock

Petra is full of dozens of breathtaking features and the Al Khazneh (the Treasury) is perhaps the best known and the most eye-watering. Access is via a 250-foot high slot canyon called the Siq. But don't expect all the many rooms and chambers leading deep into the mountains as is seen in the movie - that part is fiction. The Treasury is just a facade (if not an impressive one), and the only thing behind it is what was a royal tomb and now a small hall.

  • Fun Fact: King Herod Of The Bible Once Looted Petra

The desert-dwelling Nabataeans managed to live side by side with the Romans for hundreds of years. But like so many other kingdoms rubbing shoulders with the Romans that was never to last forever. Eventually, the Nabataean kingdom was conquered and incorporated into the Roman Empire. But at the time of Jesus in around 30 AD, it was still a thriving independent Empire a stone's throw from Jerusalem.

  • Visa Requirements: Visa On Arrival $55

Petra Today

There remains so much yet to be discovered about this stunning site. In fact, only around 15% of the city has been excavated and over 85% percent remains underground. A combination of factors led to the demise of this great city, these include changing trade routes and a large damaging earthquake. By the mid 7th century it seems to have been abandoned. Some of the trade on the route it was on included the riches from the Arabian peninsula like; myrrh, frankincense, and various kinds of spies.

Today the city of Petra is very accessible and easy to visit. It is around 240 km or 150 miles south of the main city Amman in Jordan. There are many buses and tours from the capital. It is right by the town of Wadi Musa which serves as the gateway to the site.

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Petra is considered one of the Seven New Wonders Of the World. The other wonders are Christ the Redeemer of Rio De Janiero, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Colosseum in Rome, the Taj Mahal in India, and Chich Itza of the Mayans.

Visiting Petra

If you are visiting Jordan, you chose if you would like to visit the site over one to three days. The tickets are:

Admission Fees

  • One Day Ticket: 50 (J.D) - $71
  • Two Day Ticket: 55 (J.D) - $78
  • Three Day Ticket: 60 (J.D.) - $85

These prices do not include the trails they are considered optional extras.

  • Main Trail: 4 km (2.5 miles) $71
  • Main Trail Plus High Place Of Sacrifice Monument: 6km (4 miles) $142
  • Main Trail Plus The Monastery: 8 km (5 miles)  $142

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Remember Petra was a city and so was much more than the Treasure facade often seen in the pictures and movies. The modern site is also home to a number of museums filled with artifacts to see and learn about the city's interesting history these include the Exhibition of Petra visitor center and the brand new New Museum of Petra. In addition, there are many nearby sites to explore.

Sites Of Interest In Petra

  • Bab Al Siq: The Gateway
  • Al Khazan: The Treasure - The Most Iconic Buiding
  • The Street Of Facade: Monumental Nabataean Tombs Built In The Cliff
  • The Theater: Theater Carved Into The Mountain Side
  • The Urn Tomb: Also The Court - Also Built Into The Rock
  • The Silk Tomb: Impressive Facade
  • Palace Tomb: Massive Palace Built Into The Rock

Other nearby sites include:

  • Shobak Castle: An Impressive Crusader Castle
  • Dana Nature Reserve: Jordan's Largest Nature Reserve
  • Al Beida: Much Older Site Dubbed "Little Petra"
  • Aaron's Tomb: On The Site, Moses's Brother Is Believed To Have Died

Petra is one of the great marvels of engineering and an utter must if you are visiting Jordan.

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