Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean carved-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.
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Things to do in Petra
Explore Wadi Rum by 4x4
The spectacular desert scenery of Wadi Rum is made up of ancient valleys and towering sandstone mountains rising out of white and pink coloured sands. Home to the many exploits of the famous T.E. Lawrence during the 1917-1918 Arab Revolt, Wadi Rum was used for the desert shots of the film "Lawrence of Arabia". You will see several Bedouin camps, and at the entrance to this desert area, you will see the desert police fort where police are mounted not on horse but on camels, and wear the traditional desert police robes. For the 4x4 jeep excursion into the desert, vehicles are often open-topped and the journey can be dusty and bumpy, but the scenery is magnificent.
Interactive cooking at Petra Kitchen
Learn how to cook authentic Jordanian cuisine alongside local chefs, with nightly lessons offered at Petra Kitchen. Set in a relaxed family atmosphere, all ingredients are purchased daily from local markets and used as they have been for the past thousand years to create vibrant flavours. Prepare hot and cold meze dishes, as well as a main course, then enjoy the meal you have prepared.
Petra by candlelight
Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday it is possible to go back into the Petra site once the sun has set. This magical two-hour experience begins with a walk through the Siq, a natural corridor through the rock, until you reach the Treasury, its impressive facade illuminated by over 1,000 candles. Take a seat while traditional Jordanian music is played by local Bedouins, followed by a narrative about Petra and the Nabateans.
The rose-red city of Petra
More than 2,000 years ago, Petra was used as a temporary refuge by nomadic Nabataean Arabs – Bedouins – who came north out of Arabia. Starting with only a few caves, they carved the sandstone to create this awe-inspiring fortress city. The dramatic rise of Petra was mainly due to its strategic location astride one of the most important trading routes of the ancient world, the caravan trail from Yemen to Syria. Goods from all over the known world passed through Petra, but it was frankincense that made the city rich. Burned in huge quantities on alters of the ancient world, frankincense was valued more highly than gold. By controlling the trading routes to Yemen, the sole source of frankincense production, Petra was able to maintain a monopoly on the world frankincense supply. With the great wealth generated from their trading enterprises, the Nabataeans embellished their capital with grand and imposing buildings and monuments. These buildings carved into the red rock are remarkably well preserved and are among the world's foremost surviving examples of Roman period architecture. Walk down through the ‘Siq’ – a huge crack in the Nubian sandstone – to reach el Khazneh, the Treasury, and the city beyond. A lost city for one thousand years, Petra was not fully uncovered until 1958.
The site of Al Beida (Little Petra)
The atmospheric site of Al Beida (Little Petra) is located just 8km from the main site of Petra. Al Beida is one of the oldest sights in the Middle East that shows evidence of habitation by Pre-Pottery Neolithic humans. Some experts believe that it was once an important suburb, located where caravan routes that linked the Arabian Peninsula, Gaza, Egypt and the Mediterranean coast converged. At Little Petra's entrance, there is a classical temple guarding a narrow, 350-metre ravine, which leads to temples, tombs, water channels and houses carved out of the same red rock as seen in Petra.
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