What is Petra
Located about 185 km from Amman, Petra was an ancient city, carved into the desert cliffs. Its magic ancient architecture and the unbelievable landscape attract visitors from all parts of the globe.
Video: Queen Rania exploring Petra.
It is believed that in around 1200 BCE, the area was populated by Edomites and was called Edom ("red"). It became prominent in around 312 BC due to the success of the spice trade and the migration of ancient, caravan-trading Arab tribes (the Nabataeans). The city became their capital. The site is not only beautiful, but also protected from invaders by the narrow stunning gorge (As-Siq) with 80m-high highly photogenic cliffs on either side. Petra was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1985.
Image: The spectacular gorge that leads to Petra.
Petra contains a large number of tombs, most of them built at the edge of the city, outside of the main street. Some are simple, and others are much more dramatic and eye-catching. The best known tomb is the Treasury (Khazneh in Arabic). One time local people believed it contained hidden treasure. Its exterior is 25 meters wide and 39 meters high.
Image: The famous Treasury.
Petra’s style is a mixture of influences absorbed along the trading routes: Roman, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Hellenistic enriched with original creativity. It was rediscovered by the Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt in 1812. He wrote in his diary: “It is one of the most elegant remains of antiquity existing”. When the geographer crossed Petra’s entrance, he was the first outsider to do so for more than 600 years - the city, protected by its natural surroundings, remained hidden to the West since the time of the Crusades. The local Bedouin tribes knew about its existence, but were unwilling to reveal its existence, because of the fear of treasure hunters.
Have a virtual walk in Petra and see what is inside.
It is very important to have a knowledgeable guide to show you the best spots and trails and explain the history of this unique place.
How to get there