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Petra Jordan – Treasure of ancient world

The rock-carved rose-red city of Petra is full of mysterious charm, it was “designed to strike wonder into all who entered it”.

Petra- Jordan

It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
By labor wrought as wavering fancy planned,
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
Where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
That crowns the hill and consecrates the plane;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn
That first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
Your Contributions which deemed old two thousand years ago,
Match me such a marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time.

“Dean Burgon”

The giant red mountains and vast mausoleums of a departed race have nothing in common with modern civilization, and ask nothing of it except to be appreciated at their true value – as one of the greatest wonders ever wrought by Nature and Man.

Although much has been written about Petra, nothing really prepares you for this amazing place. It has to be seen to be believed.

Petra, the world wonder, is without a doubt Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction. It is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled here more than 2000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome.

Petra is considered the most famous and gorgeous site in Jordan located about 262 km south of Amman and 133 km north of Aqaba. It is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2000 years ago.
Admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is now a UNESCO world heritage site and one of The New 7 Wonders of the World that enchants visitors from all corners of the globe.
Walls of Petra The approach through a kilometer long, cool, and gloom chasm (or Siq) a long narrow gorge whose steeply rising sides all but obliterate the sun, provides a dramatic contrast with the magic to come.
Suddenly the gorge opens into a natural square dominated by Petra’s most famous monument, The Treasury (El-Khazneh), whose intricately carved facade glows in the dazzling sun.

Various helpful tips and ideas for your visit

Hint and tips

Petra Visitor Center

The Petra Visitor Center lies just outside the site of Petra and is your first stop before you head to the gate that leads into the protected area. The center is open daily and you must purchase your tickets for entering Petra Only and Only from there.
The ancient site of Petra and its Visitor Center are open to visitors on a daily basis from 6:00 to 18:00 during the summer and 06:00 to 16:00  in the winter.


Entry into the site of Petra is only permitted to visitors holding valid tickets. These are available at the Visitor Center and can be purchased on arrival. Prices differ for foreigners and locals and a range of ticket types are available depending on the length of stay and number of visits to be made into Petra.
Fees for the accommodated visitor: Visitor who stays at least one night in Jordan.
Entrance Ticket
One Day: 50 (J.D)
Two Days: 55 (J.D)
Three days: 60 (J.D)
Tickets are available only by cash && Jordanian Dinars (Credit cards not accepted).


You should start early in the morning to save time for Petra. And you can start at the beginning of your tour look over the mountains on the treasury and then go to the altar then through the valley an opportunity to see the girl palace and return of the altar or go down via the stairs to the royal tombs, but we recommend you to take a tour guide, so will not get lost there.


 Brochures introducing Petra and its various monuments are available at the Visitor Center in Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish, German and Italian. Various maps of Petra, including an aerial view map and a physical relief of the area, can also be obtained from the Visitor Center.

Licensed tour guides

Licensed tour guides can be booked from the Visitor Center to take you through the site. Guides speak Arabic, English, Russian, French, German,  Greek and Italian.

No vehicles or bicycles

No vehicles or bicycles are allowed beyond the main gate.

Did you know?

Petra is sometimes called the ‘Lost City’. In spite of its being such an important city in antiquity, after the 14th century AD, Petra was completely lost to the western world. It was rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss traveler, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who tricked his way into the fiercely guarded site by pretending to be an Arab from India wishing to make a sacrifice at the tomb of the Prophet Aaron.

The name Petra originates from the Greek word ‘petros’ which means rocks. Petra is also known as Al-Batra in Arabic.

Between 1BC and 8 AD, Petra experienced severe earthquakes and in 362 AD half of the city was destroyed.

It is believed that Petra was established in 312 BC which then makes the city one of the oldest cities in the world.

During 2016, while using satellite imagery, archaeologists discovered a large and previously unknown monumental structure buried beneath the sands of Petra.

Good to know

More facades beckon the visitor on until the ancient city gradually unfolds, one monument leading to the next for kilometer after kilometer. The sheer size of the city and the quality of beautifully carved facades is staggering and leads one to reflect on the creativity and industry of the Nabataeans who made Petra their capital.

Petra is always breathtaking, and never to be forgotten. It flourished for over 400 years around the time of Rome and Christ (pbuh), until it was occupied by the Roman legions of the Emperor Trajan in 106 AD.

The Petra basin boasts over 800 individual monuments, including buildings, tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples, arched gateways, and colonnaded streets, that were mostly carved from the kaleidoscopic sandstone by the technical and artistic genius of its inhabitants.

Attractions in Petra

To see in Petra

Obelisks Tomb

Petra (Obelisks Tomb)A beautiful monument and perfect exampel of the artistic intermarriage of styles between east and west. It is located to the left of the road, the Tomb of Obelisks is one of the more unique buildings in Petra. Dating back to the first century BC, the tomb features one chamber containing five graves and four columns extending from the tomb, each measuring 7 meters in height. In addition, there exists a statue among the obelisks of an older man who is thought to be the owner of the Tomb of Obelisks. The ground floor represents a funeral hall that was used for holding celebrations.

The Dam

Jordan- Petra (The Dam)The Dam was renovated by the government in 1964 in the same way originally built by the Nabataens. This dam was built to protect their capital from floods that arrived during the seasonal rain from the mountains and hills across the valley. The dam protected the city of Petra by redirecting the flood waters into a tunnel, which was later titled the ‘Dark Tunnel’. Proving to be successful, the dam thus represented the Natabataean’s skillful and modern infrastructure. During the excavation, it was found that the original name of the old city was Raqeem. However, upon their arrival, the Greeks renamed the city ‘Petra,’ meaning the rock

The Siq

Petra (the siq)The Siq, which is the ancient main entrance leading to the city of Petra, starts at the Dam and ends at the opposite side of the vault, a split rock with a length of about 1200m and a width of 3 to 12m, and height up to about 80m; most of the rock is natural and another part was sculptured by the Nabataeans. The Siq, the main road that leads to the city, starts from the Dam and ends at the Treasury. It is a rock canal that measures 160 meters in length, 3 to 12 meters in width and reaches up to 80 meters in height. The main part of the Siq is created by natural rock formation and the rest is carved by the Nabataeans. At the beginning of the Siq, one can still view the remains of the city’s gate. On both sides of the Siq, there are channels to draw water from Wadi Musa (the Valley of Moses), from outside the city to the inside.

The Treasury

Petra (The Treasury) is one of the most beautiful buildings in Petra. It was named the Treasury because the Bedouins used to believe the urn sculpted at the top contained great treasures. However, in reality the urn represented a memorial for royalty. The Treasury consists of two floors with a width of 25.30 meters and a height of 39.1 meters. The purpose of the Treasury is unclear: some archaeologists believed it to be a temple, while others thought it was a place to store documents. However, the most recent excavation here has unearthed a graveyard beneath the Treasury.

The Street of Facades

The Street of Facades in Petra After exiting the Treasury, the Siq begins to widen gradually as it reaches into an open area. On both sides, there are a number of Nabataean burial interfaces decorated with grindstones along with other decorations; and some of these interfaces were destroyed by natural factors, it is believed that these interfaces represents some of the senior officials in the city or princes. The tomb Anesho is located in the far south of this group and overlooks the external Siq. Anesho was the Minister of Queen Nabatiyeh Shaqilh II, who ruled between 70 and 76 AD as guardians of the throne of her son, Rabil II. These tombs represent courtier in the middle of the first century AD.

The Theater

The Theater in Petra - JordanAs you enter heart of the city, the Nabataean theater is located on the left. It was built in the first century AD in the form an arc that is 95 meters in radius and 2.23 meters in height. It is carved in the rock with the exception of the front part, which was already sculpted by the Nabataens. The Theater consists of 45 rows of seats that can accommodate 7-10 thousand spectators.

The Urn Tomb (Court)

The Urn Tomb (Court)After passing the Theater, on the other side, there is a set of interfaces, the first one of these interfaces is the Urn Tomb. It measures 16.49 meters and 26 meters in height and comprises two floors supported by arcs. The graves were located at the back end of the tomb but later, as evidence in the Greek inscriptions in the Urn Tomb, in 447 AD were converted into a church with new side doors were added.

The Silk Tomb

The Silk TombLocated to the north of the Urn Tomb, the tower dates back to the first half of the first century AD. The interface measures 10.8 meters in width and 19 meters in length with a door in the middle, and features four columns.

Corinthian tomb

The Corinthian tomb Petra JordanThe Corinthian Tomb, which lies after the Silk Tomb, was built between 40 and 70 AD. The façade measures 27.55 meters in width and 26 meters in height. t resembles the Silk Tomb and the Treasury, particularly in the upper part, but is less decorated. There are four water basins in the front and on the side, which were used in the cleansing rituals. There are four rooms inside the tomb, three of which are square-shaped and lie on the left with one on the right that has an area of 13 m².

Palace Tomb

The Palace Tomb - Petra - JordanLocated to the north of the Corinthian tomb, the Palace Tomb measures 49 meters in width and 46 meters in height. The lower part consists of 12 decorated columns and four gates. Above the threshold lie 18 pillars. The four gates of the cemetery lead to four rooms for burial, with some graves carved in the walls. This name was given to the cemetery as it resembles a palace.

Sextius Florentinus

The Sextius Florentinus Tomb - Petra - JordanLocated northeast of the palace, the cemetery is lined with Latino inscription. The tomb dates back to Sextus Florentinos, the governor of the Arab state (129 AD), and the interface (37.10 m) and height (9.16 m) consist of two floors. The first floor features four columns and a gate above the triangle and the upper floor shows the remains of columns on both sides crowned with a triangle and an urn; and there are statues above the arch and on the side in the middle.

Baptist Street

The Baptist Street - Petra - JordanAt the beginning of the street, one can see the remains of the virgin’s fountain. The street was rebuilt in 106 BC with a width of 6 meters. The excavation fossil indicates that there was an older road with 1-2 floor building, lying on its side. On the left of the portico street to the south, there is a set of stairs that leads to the courtyard, which is called the market. This is believed to have been the heart of the city and center of various types of commercial activities and transactions during the third century BC. The street continued to be used throughout the Byzantine period during the fourth and fifth centuries, until the sixth. At the end of the road lies the triple gate, which leads to the Girl’s Place.

Pond and Gardens Complex

The Pond and Gardens Complex - Petra - JordanBuilt in the first century AD, the entrance is located in the lower arena of the Great Temple. It was thought to have been a commercial market in the past that was linked to the portico street; however, the archaeological work showed that it was, in fact, a garden and pond. The measurements of the pond are 2.43 x 23 x 5 meters and the inside of the building are 14.11 x 5.5 meters; it is open on three sides to the water. The east-west wall on the north side represents a stone dam, which serves to store the water from the canals and is distributed through the channel along the walls of the pond. The building located at the center represents the island or a floating ship on water and is used as a place for recreation and hiking for the residents of the city.

The Great Temple

The The Great Temple - Petra - JordanLocated on the left (south) of the portico street, the Great Temple consists of a main entrance, a lower sacred arena, and two identical buildings in the form of semi-arches on both sides. There are wide steps leading to the supreme sacred arena, and above it lays the Temple, which is the largest building in the city of Petra.

Winged Lions Temple

Winged Lions Temple - Petra -JordanSituated opposite the Girl`s Palace, this building consists of a front balcony led by columns, (5.9 m) which is accessed through a wide gate to the main hall of the temple in a square shape and surrounded by columns. The name of the temple is derived from the fact that some temple columns contain winged lions. The main floor was paved using white brown wavy marble while the podium was paved using black and white marble. Décor for the temple and the interior walls consisted of colored plastering and marble; plaster pieces forming human heads were also discovered. Masks and forms of flowers were also decorated on the walls.

The Churches

The Churches - Petra - Jordan
Petra’s main church is the second church in Petra, after converting the jar tomb to the Church in 446, made up of the church building with the corridors of length (28 m) and view (17 m), in addition to the yard, the Tower of the Bank and the rooms’ side of the north and east. The church floor is characterized with mosaics paved in the north and south galleries as well as marble in the east hallway and mosaic imagery of geometric, animal shapes and graphics representing the four seasons, the gods of sea and land.

The Girl`s Palace

The Girl`s Palace - Petra - JordanDating back to the first century BC, the importance of this palace is that the building survived despite the earthquakes in Petra. It was built using blocks made of juniper wood and placed between blocks and stone, thus easing movement during earthquakes.

The Altar

The Altar - Petra JordanThe first thing that can be seen in the area is two cutting columns, which are believed to represent the most important Nabataen gods known as Thu Shary and his companion Al Azy. Also, in the stairs area, one can see the remains of the wall and bridge, which are believed to date back to the Adomars and the Nabataens, who rebuilt the Altar. It was used in the Crusaders period as a link between the Al Waa’ra and the Habis Castle. On the west side, there are two altars, one of which is square-shaped that is used to circle around and the other is circular that is used to hold blood of the sacrifices or wine.

The Farasa Valley

The Farasa Valley in Petra - JordanIt is located on the western side of Mount Altar, and most importantly, it can be seen on the road to the valley fountain. A lion, which is carved in the rock, may have religious significance and in particular that there is an altar with a small face of this fountain. There are also remaining channels of water carved in rock that lead to water tanks; some parts are built and others carved with a large reservoir depth of almost 17 meters.

The Garden Temple

The Garden Temple - Petra - JordanGarden Temple (it’s function is as yet uncertain) at the top of several steps, with a small cistern cut into the rock that forms the courtyard in front of it. The simple façade of the monument, with two free-standing columns in the center, is flanked by two engaged pilasters. To the right is a substantial wall which seals off a natural cleft in the rock to form a vast cistern, plastered on the inside. It was part of a Nabataean water system, fed from springs in the eastern hills, and added to by other channels that collected run-off water in Jabal Madbah. It supplied the Wadi Farasa area of the ancient city.

Roman Soldier & Funeral Ballroom Tomb

Roman Soldier & Funeral Ballroom TombIt is believed that there was a courtyard between those two landmarks. Where the funeral ballroom uniques comes from it columns. and it’is believed also that the Romanian soldier was built in 106 AC an consists of the statues of soldiers dressed in the Romanian army clothes.

The Renaissance Tomb

The Renaissance TombOne of the tombs one can see on the way to the High Place of Sacrifice, is the Renaissance Tomb; The interface is decorated with an intricately-made set of crowns and six Nabataean jars.

The Monastery

The MonasteryIt is believed that the monastery was converted into a monastery for monks in the Byzantine period. There is presence of traces of crosses carved in the rock in the only room in the basement of the interface. Dating back to the first half of the first century BC, the building consists of two floors and animated crown statues; it is larger than the Treasury featuring a width of up to 50 meters and a height of 50 meters.

The Nabateans

The Nabataeans, an Arab tribe, first appeared in the sixth century BC in the desert located to the east of Jordan, and came from the south-east of the Arabian Peninsula. They settled first in Petra and subsequently expanded their territory to the Horan and Levant and finally announced Bosra as their capital.

According to historical records, they are descendants of (Bnayut) the son of Ismail bin Ibrahim. Ismail had twelve boys who formed a tribe, most of whom were located in Najad. The father of the Nabataeans remained at Mount Shammar but was forced to run from the Ashurbanipal to Wadi Araba between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.

During the fourth century BC the Nabataeans lived as nomads in tents, spoke Arabic, loathed wine and did not have any interest in agriculture, but by the second century, they developed into an organized society.

The Greek historian Herodotus referred to Nabataean history in his writing, where the Nabataeans fist appeared in 312 BC and prayed to Oratol.

As the Nabataeans grew in power and wealth, they attracted the attention of their neighbors to the north.
The Seleucid King Antigonus, who had come to power when Alexander’s empire was divided, attacked Petra in 312 BC. His army met with relatively little resistance, and was able to sack the city.
The quantity of booty was so great, however, that it slowed their return journey north and the Nabataeans were able to annihilate them in the desert. Records indicate that the Nabataeans were eager to remain on good terms with the Seleucids in order to perpetuate their trading ambitions.

Throughout much of the third century BC, the Ptolemies and Seleucids warred over control of Jordan, with the Seleucids emerging victorious in 198 BC. The Nabataeans remained essentially untouched and independent throughout this period.

The art of Nabateans

Although the Nabataeans resisted military conquest, the Hellenistic culture of their neighbors influenced them greatly. Hellenistic influences can be seen in Nabataean art and architecture, especially at the time that their empire was expanding northward into Syria, around 150 BC. However, the growing economic and political power of the Nabataeans began to worry the Romans. In 65 BC, the Romans arrived in Damascus and ordered the Nabataeans to withdraw their forces. Two years later, Pompey dispatched a force to cripple Petra. The Nabataean King Aretas III either defeated the Roman legions or paid a tribute to keep peace with them.

The assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC augured a period of relative anarchy for the Romans in Jordan, and the Parthian kings of Persia and Mesopotamia took advantage of the chaotic situation to attack. The Nabataeans made a mistake by siding with the Parthians in their war with the Romans, and after the Parthians’ defeat, Petra had to pay tribute to Rome. When they fell behind in paying this tribute, they were invaded twice by the Roman vassal King Herod the Great. The second attack, in 31 BCE, saw him take control of a large swath of Nabataean territory, including the lucrative northern trading routes into Syria

Nonetheless, the Nabataeans continued to prosper for a while. King Aretas IV, who ruled from 9 BCE to 40 CE, built a chain of settlements along the caravan routes to develop the prosperous incense trade. The Nabataeans realized the power of Rome, and subsequently allied themselves with the Romans to quell the Jewish uprising of 70 CE. However, it was only a matter of time before Nabataea would fall under direct Roman rule. The last Nabataean monarch, Rabbel II, struck a deal with the Romans that as long as they did not attack during his lifetime, they would be allowed to move in after he died. Upon his death in 106 CE, the Romans claimed the Nabataean Kingdom and renamed it Arabia Petrea. The city of Petra was redesigned according to traditional Roman architectural designs, and a period of relative prosperity ensued under the Pax Romana.

The Nabataeans profited for a while from their incorporation into the trade routes of the Roman Near East, and Petra may have grown to house 20,000-30,000 people during its heyday. However, commerce became less profitable to the Nabataeans with the shift of trade routes to Palmyra in Syria and the expansion of seaborne trade around the Arabian Peninsula. Sometime probably during the fourth century CE, the Nabataeans left their capital at Petra. No one really knows why. It seems that the withdrawal was an unhurried and organized process, as very few silver coins or valuable possessions have been unearthed at Petra.

The New Museum of Petra

Located at the main tourist street and only three minute walk from the main gate to Petra. Opening Times are seven days a week throughout the year from 8:30am until 7:30pm. It contains 280 artifacts, dating back to different ages, the exhibition consists of five halls showing the history of Petra and information about the nabatean's life and their civilization.

Movies filmed in Petra

In 1977, the Lebanese Rahbani brothers wrote the musical “Petra” as a response to the Lebanese Civil War.
The site is featured in films such as: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Arabian Nights, Passion in the Desert, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
It was recreated for the video games Spy Hunter (2001), King’s Quest V, Lego Indiana Jones, Sonic Unleashed and Civilization V.
Petra appeared in the novels Left Behind, Appointment with Death, The Eagle in the Sand and The Red Sea Sharks, the nineteenth book in The Adventures of Tintin series. It featured prominently in the Marcus Didius Falco mystery novel Last Act in Palmyra. In Blue Balliett’s novel, Chasing Vermeer, the character Petra Andalee is named after the site.
The Sisters of Mercy filmed their music video for “Dominion/Mother Russia” in and around Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) in February 1988.
Petra was featured in episode 3 of the 2010 series An Idiot Abroad.

A full list of all movies filmed in Petra jordan according to IMDB (Sorted by Popularity - Ascending)

List of movies filmed in Petra Jordan :

Aladdin - Guy Ritchie - Petra - Jordan