A day in Petra is an absolute must for any visitor to the Kingdom of Jordan in the Middle East.
This rose-coloured ancient city is undoubtedly the country’s most popular tourist attraction
What Is Petra?
Petra, located in the Jordan desert, is the site of an ancient city dating back to as early as the 5th century BC when Nabataean nomads settled there.
Located in the south part of Jordan, the city was prosperous due to its convenient location along trade routes and many buildings were carved out of blushing pink sandstone, earning it the name “The Rose City”.
Petra eventually fell to the Romans in 106 AD and eventually was abandoned completely except for some Bedouin tribes who remained in the area. It wasn’t until the 1800s that Western explorers discovered the deserted lost city and the world became aware of its existence.
Wow factors don’t come much more breathtaking than the first glimpse of the Treasury carved into the craggy cliffs of Petra. After a journey through the narrow Sikh, the canyon path between the cliffs that leads to the ancient city, the magnificent Treasury (or Al-Khazneh) is the first thing you will see.
This building is not actually a Treasury but is actually a tomb – though who the remains inside the tomb belong to is unknown. This building is the best preserved out of all the Petra sites and is one of the most photographed sites in all of Jordan. It was also featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Ad Deir or The Monastery is a hugely impressive building in Petra with a similar design to the Treasury – think large columns and beautiful carved stone. The walk to Ad Deir is located in the hilly areas of Petra and visitors must make the trek up 800 steps to reach the building.
Whilst the walk up the mountain to get to Al Deir might be exhausting, the views from the top are remarkable, looking down over the valleys around Petra.
The Great Temple
The huge temple complex at Petra is definitely one of the highlights of exploring this ancient city. A day in Petra isn’t complete without a visit to this monument which sits in around the centre of the city – the Siq on one side and the Garden and Pool complex on the other.
The colonnaded street leads up to the main temple entrance and inside are public seating galleries and cisterns. Archaeologists have found many ornate carvings from this site over the years.
While Jerash can’t be compared to Petra, it is still an astonishing archaeological site and deserves a visit. If you’re not keen on spending time in Amman but have a couple of hours to spend here, I’d highly suggest visiting Jerash.
Jerash known in Greco-Roman times as Gerasa, and Ajloun castle which is also located on the way, together, make for a perfect day trip from Amman. The locations are well preserved and the scale and magnificence is extraordinary. It was one of my favorite things to do on my 5 day Jordan itinerary.
Here’s a list of all the things you can see in Jerash in brief:
The Oval Plaza
The temple of Zeus
The North Theater
The South Theater
The temple of Artemis
Even with the amount of tourists visiting the location is massive and you can expect to have sites within Jerash all to yourself in the evenings! Try to time your visit if possible during closing hours so you can see the sunset from one of the Theaters. It’ll be worth it as you’ll probably have the place all to yourself!