The symbol of Jordan – ancient city of Petra, has become one of the most attractive destinations for tourists from all over the world. This UNESCO heritage has been unknown to the world for hundreds of years until it was discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. He was the one who made the best present to the passionate travelers – he rediscovered the “Rose City.”
Brief history of the Ancient City of Petra
Petra got the name of “Rose City” due to the colors of the stones out of which the hidden ancient city of Petra was carved. When you stand in front of the entrance to this terrific town, you can never guess what is waiting for you there right after the seeming endless rocks and stones. As soon as you start your journey, you will find dozens of unexpected sights which are not described in the history books or travel guides. After you pass a few meters in the rocks, you will see interesting built-ins that remind flats. Those are one, two or three-room places that could have been inhabited thousands of years ago by locals and caravans.
Unforgettable experience gained in the main monuments
In a few minutes, everyone starts to wonder how big the site is and how long it will take to explore it. Well, it is enormous and one day is not enough to explore all the hidden and charming places of the “Lost City.” The path that takes you to the most beautiful areas is straightforward to follow, and you can be sure that you will never get lost there. After passing by all the small and impressive erections like the Obelisk tomb, you will get to a road in the middle of the rocks, which takes you to the heart of the ancient city of Petra. This is the “entrance of Siq” to a gorge, which is split in the rocks of about 80 meters and has an approximately 1,2km length. If you don’t want to spend too much time on walking you can choose alternative means of transportation – donkey, camel or horse ride and even a carriage that will take you to the next destination. On your way you can enjoy the alteration of colors: you will witness probably the most beautiful scenery: colorful stone/ rock compositions. The colors of the stones vary depending on the season and time; they can alternate from light pink to brownish red, from white to lime. When the sun touches the stones with its rays, it creates an unforgettable show for you. Once you cross the path, you will reach “the Treasury” which has a 40-meter façade. Unfortunately this site has been closed for tourists for a few years now; however, you still can enjoy its beauty from outside. The pictures taken here will be a great reminder for you after you return home or continue your trip to other unrevealed places. The pictures taken here can also serve as a postcard, which you can send to your family, friends or the beloved ones.
The Monastery which comes after the Treasury will impress you with its simple design and great view. When you step in, you feel like in a fairy tale or a movie. You start to imagine how the caravans came and passed these areas, how people erected this ancient city of Petra, how movies like “Indiana Jones” or “The Last Crusade” were filmed here. Some of the other sights that you need to visit are:
- Royal Tombs
- Street of Facades
- Colonnaded Street
- Garden Temple
- The Theater
- High Place of Sacrifice
- Lion Fountain
- Byzantine Church
How long will your ancient city of Petra tour last
To make your visit more remarkable, it is better to plan your visit in advance. The first and easiest option is to take a guided tour. Like in all standard tours you will have a bus that will pick you up, take to Petra, provide the entrance ticket and most probably you will also have a guide who will give you short information about the ancient city of Petra but will let you walk on your own after you cross the Siq. When you start your journey, you will be full of emotions and energy. It will not take you too long to get to the Siq (15-20 minutes) and pass the Siq (around 30-40 minutes) to get to the main attractions unless you stop at every corner to take a picture (which is something you will most probably do). You need to keep in mind that if you go there on a paid tour for a day, in the best scenario, you will have 10-15 minutes for each monument which is hardly enough for taking a few good photos. Remember that you also need to get back and considering how tired you will be, it will take you more time, so keep this in mind in order not to miss your group/ bus. With such a tour you will normally have 3-4 hours to walk around.
On the other hand traveling alone or with a group (not with a travel agency) gives you few priorities one of which is the chance of being in front of the entrance early in the morning and going in as soon as it gets open. This will give you a competitive advantage. First of all, you will have extra 2-3 hours (because until the travel agencies pick up the travelers and reach the destination, it takes several hours) and additionally, you will not have many people crowded at the entrance or in front of the monuments where you would like to take a picture. Plan your stay around every monument and move on according to your schedule (you can allocate from 5 to 30-40 minutes for each monument depending on its size and your interest). If you want to spend more time somewhere do it on your way back. Otherwise, you might miss some of the greatest sights that are located at the end of the road. You can also hire a guide before entering or even on your way if you want to get more information about the history of this ancient city of Petra.
The third option and probably the most exciting one is to stay there overnight. If you decide to do this, you will have the “privilege” of seeing Petra under the moonlight and also enjoy sunrise and sunset from upper areas (you can climb to the top of the rocks, where you will enjoy the spectacular view). Also for an additional fee, you can walk through the area under the candlelight, which is extremely suggested to couples and romantic people. Another thing you can do is to hire a guide who will take you through one of the dozen trails that are available in Petra but are not very touristic.
Things you should know before going to Petra
- If you want to rent a carriage or enjoy a ride (donkey, camel or horse), you need to bargain A LOT. The initial price is utterly ridiculous, but you can get up to 50-70% off if you are good at bargaining. In case you want to take a one-way ride, do it on your way back, as you will be exhausted and short of time.
- Wear sneakers or sandals to make it easy for you to climb the rocks and walk through sandy paths (sneakers are preferred).
- Take a lot of water, a hat, some food and a jacket. Mainly it is hot there, but at some point, you might feel cold (especially if you decide to spend the night there).
- Charge your camera and phone, and if you are passionate about photography get a 32GB card, as you will take thousands of photos there.
- There is free Wi-Fi available in front of the entrance, where you can also buy some food and drinks, souvenirs, clothes; you also have access to a free WC.
If you are looking for a new place to visit and you haven’t been to the ancient city of Petra yet, then this should be your next destination. The experience gained in the “Rose City” will be life-long, mind-changing and unforgettable.