Famed for its rock-hewn architecture, Petra is a sprawling archaeological site adjacent to Jebel al-Madhbah in southern Petra. It is believed to have been settled by the Nabateans as early as the 4th century BC and later served as the capital of their kingdom due to its proximity to ancient incense trade routes.
Things to do in Petra
Slowly walk through the narrow canyon of al-Siq, which leads to one of Petra’s most impressive buildings, the Treasury. Carved out of the sandstone mountains, it was designed as a tomb for the Nabatean King Aretas III, who extended the kingdom to cover northern Jordan, southern Syria and part of Saudi Arabia. From the Treasury, the path widens along the Street of Facades, which is etched with 2,000-year-old houses.
Don’t miss The Colonnaded Street, which was refurbished by the Romans when they took control in 106 BC. At the end of the street is a tripartite gate leading to the Temple of Qasr al-Bint, which is one of the best-preserved structures in Petra. Nearby is the Temple of the Winged Lions, believed to be dedicated to the supreme goddess of the Nabateans.
Around 800 steps lead to the Monastery, a monumental building in the hills above Petra. It is believed to have been used as a church during the Byzantine period and offers magnificent views across the valleys of Wadi Araba. For traditional Bedouin coffee accompanied by stunning views, continue hiking to End of the World Coffee.
Getting around Petra
Petra is located a short walk from the town of Wadi Musa, which is around two hours’ drive from Aqaba International Airport. Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport is 2.5 hours away and has flights to destinations across the globe. Buses connect to Wadi Musa.