Petra is the most popular tourist attraction in Jordan. Located in the southwestern part of the country, it is a Nabatean city that was lost for thousands of years. Only rediscovered in the 19th century, the site is a must-see destination for many travelers. Named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, hundreds of thousands of people visit Petra every year. Travelers can access Petra from major cities in Jordan, like Aqaba or Amman, or with tours from cities in Israel, including Jerusalem and Eilat. Many tours pass through the desert of Wadi Rum on the way to Petra.
History of Petra
The city of Petra was built by the Nabataean empire in the first century BCE. The Nabateans carved beautiful structures and buildings into pink and red sandstone canyon walls, creating a breathtaking city that was a center for trade for about 500 years.
The city remained hidden and empty for almost two centuries until Swiss explorer John Lewis Burckhardt rediscovered it in 1812. The Lost City of Petra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
How to Visit
Just getting into this amazing city is an adventure. After arriving at the front entrance and paying the entrance fee, it is about a 20 minute walk to the most famous structure, the treasury. You will arrive at the treasury by passing through the Siq, a narrow entry point created when the mountain split in two. Because the ancient city of Petra is so vast, it is important to wear comfortable walking shoes. For an additional fee, visitors also have the option of riding a horse or taking a carriage for part of the way to the treasury.
Throughout the city, there are various other highlights that should not be missed. Some of them are off the main walking path and take time to get to. These highlights include the monastery, the Roman theater, the Royal tombs, and the sacrificial altar. For those who like exploring, a two-day Petra tour may be an ideal choice.
The best time of year to visit is in the spring or fall, when temperatures are moderate. During the summer months, the temperatures can average 97 degrees Fahrenheit.