The ruins at Petra are truly magnificent, they stand in a category of their own in terms of ancient remains – here is an entire rose coloured city masterfully cut into the desert rock, rediscovered in scale, with many monuments still revealing their original intricacy and grandeur. A visit to Petra is an invitation to allow your mind, senses and imagination to enter the world of the Nabateans, the site where their kings held court.
Highlights of the ancient city include the impressive entrance to the city through the narrow one kilometre Siq, a canyon seemingly cut into the rock and flanked with tombs on each side. Remains of how the Nabateans channeled water can be seen in the rock which towers above you and seems to contain every shade of red, ochre, yellow, pink and brown. As the Siq lets out into the main site, your breathe will be taken away by Petra’s most elaborate ruin, The Treasury which is in fact a King’s tomb. Your guide will talk to you about the significance of tombs and the afterlife in Nabatean culture and religion, and point out various of the Treasury’s finer features and what they are intended to convey. The site of Petra is huge and a day here involves much walking, though the locals will be on hand to offer you alternative modes of transport such as donkeys, camels and horses! As you explore the site, you will see many more tombs, temples including the temple of Dushares, the Roman theatre, and the monastery. The site of Little Petra is also well worth visiting, particularly for its beautifully decorated ‘dining room cave’ with wall and ceiling paintings depicting wine and vines.
As well as being a treat for history and archaeology lovers, Petra is an outstanding destination for those who love to hike through wild desert scenery and seemingly stumble upon world class ruins. If this resonates with you, we recommend starting at Little Petra and trekking three to four hours through the wilderness of the sandstone mountains, dramatic scenery around you at every turn, until eventually you approach Petra at the monastery.
Another hike we love is up to the High Place of Sacrifice which involves about a forty five minute ascent up steps to arrive at this ancient alter site where animals were dedicated to the gods, and their blood drained away through the stone. The hike winds back down to Petra over another hour and a half or so, and along the way you will see various burial sites.
Petra can also be visited at night on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (and can be privately opened on other nights), the Siq and Treasury are lit up with thousands of candles and it’s quite stunning, so we do recommend this experience if your timing allows for it.
Dining at Petra can also be elevated to an out of the ordinary event, and our best recommended options are an extraordinarily atmospheric private meal in a Nabatean cave, or if you want to go the whole hog, we can take over the entire site of Little Petra and create a once in a lifetime candle lit dinner experience, complete with local musicians and flood lit monuments – we’ve done it ourselves and can tell you it’s spectacular.
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