I recently visited the city of Petra in Jordan, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It’s incredible with many accolades endorsing its magnificence.
In 1985 the Petra Archaeological Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the 28 places to visit them before you die. Then to boot, in 2007 it was named one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’
Where is Petra?
It is not known exactly when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire between 400 BC and 106 AD. It grew rich through trading frankincense, myrrh, and spices, more precious than gold. Now I understand why the ‘Three Wise Men’ took these goodies to Jesus, on his birth!
The Nabataeans were eventually conquered and absorbed into the Roman Empire. The empire continued to thrive until a large earthquake destroyed much of the city in 363 AD. The earthquake, combined with changes in trade routes eventually led to the downfall of the city and it was ultimately abandoned. By the 750 AD, Petra appeared to have been largely deserted, except for some local Bedouin people from the area. It remained like this until 1812 when a Swiss explorer Johannes Burckhardt set out to find Petra. He had converted to Islam and had heard the locals speak of the ‘lost city’ hidden in the mountains of Wadi Mousa. In order to find the site without making the local people suspicious, he disguised himself as a pilgrim looking to make a sacrifice at the tomb of Aaron. In doing so, he got a glimpse of the legendary city, revealing the secret of Petra to the world.
What to expect?
How far do you walk to explore Petra?
Whats happening about the excavations?
What happened to the local Bedouin people that lived there?
How big is Jordan?
Jordan is about a third the size of New Zealand with about 10 million people. Their population has increased significantly over the last 10 year with large number of refugees including 1.3 million people from Syria.
Tips for visiting Petra
- A tour guide is a ‘must’ to get the most out of the hidden city. When purchasing a ticket, request a quide at the same time. Their standard tours take about 1.5 hours.
- In the peak of the season, April, about 4,000 people a day visit Petra. We visited in late May it was nothing like that.
- We only walked the main trail, a little over 8 kilometres. This trail is considered easy. However, there are more strenuous trails with hundreds of steps if you are wanting a real workout.
- The site opens at 6am which is the best time to visit as the temperature is manageable and the tour buses are yet to arrive.
- If you are a keen photographer the best time to take photos of the Treasury is between 9-11am and 5-6pm when the sun strikes it directly. The whole facade is lit up with a reddish-pink glow.
Getting around Jordan
The best way to get around Jordan and see the many sights is with your own private driver, or a small tour group.
For more information on Jordan and its amazing sites, read these post….