Ma’an Governorate

Petra desert roadThe Kingdom of Jordan is divided up into Governorates and the biggest of them is the Ma’an Governorate which is bordered by Saudi Arabia on one side and then the Amman, Aqaba, Kerak and Tafilah Governorates on its other sides. The capital of the Ma’an Governorate is Ma’an which is about 218km from the capital of Jordan, Amman.

The Ma’an Governorate has a wealth of archeological sites and important sites from Jordan’s history. Ma’an began its rise to importance when it was a stop on the caravan routes which passed through Jordan from the Middle East to Mecca in the south. During Biblical times the Ma’an Governorate was under the rule of the Edomites, later the Nabateans and then the Romans got a foot hold in the Ma’an Governorate (103AD). The Crusaders followed in the 11th century and they too left their mark on the land.

The city of Ma’an is close to both of Jordan’s major cross country highways, the King’s Highway and the Desert Highway.  It is also where the Jordanian trail system ends.

Ma’an Tourist Attractions

Petra is not only the Ma’an Governorate’s greatest site it is also Jordan’s most important and most visited tourist attraction. Petra is an ancient Nabatean city carved out of the reddish cliffs of stone in the desert. The extensive archeological site includes temples, homes, an amphitheatre, churches and the much photographed Treasury. Petra is on the edge of Wadi Araba, on the slope of mount Hor. This is one of the wonders of the world, a UNESCO site and a true masterpiece of human engineering.

Mount Hor is mentioned in the Old Testament as “in the edge of the Land of Edom” where Moses’ brother Aaron died. The mountain is in the Edomite range and consists of two peaks at the top is a shrine marking the spot where Aaron is thought to be buried.

Shoubak has the fortune of having the highest elevation in the area and so it has always been a strategically advantageous place for leaders and warriors to build their strongholds. The elevation and proximity to the Arabian Desert means that it is spared the scorching heat and instead has cool weather, so much so that the area is known for its fruit crops. The Montreal Castle is a Crusader castle in Shoubak built in 1115 on a hill top by Baldwin I of Jerusalem. The castle could easily monitor the caravans and pilgrims crossing the country from Syria to Mecca. Baldwin controlled the commercial caravans and they even needed his permission to pass. The castle fell into the hands of other powers over the years until the Mameluks took over and began to restore it to its former glory. On the walls are 14th century carvings, there is also a tower, well and gate house.

Husseiniya is another of the administrative areas within the Ma’an Governorate.

Wadi Musa or the Valley of Moses is the town closest to the entrance to Petra and the starting point for most visits to the UNESCO site. Here most businesses are geared towards the Petra tourism. The name of the valley comes from the belief that this is where Moses struck a rock and brought forth water. This is said to have occurred at Ain Musa or Moses Water Spring (Moses Well). The ancient Nabatean civilization got its water from this spring.

Moses Well in Wadi Musa is protected in a white domed structure; inside you can see the rock thought to be the one Moses struck. Water flows from a central well out of the building. This perpetual spring supplied water to Petra which is about 5km away.

Visit the Ma’an Governorate in Jordan and enjoy the contrasting landscapes, the deserts and valleys as well as the remnants of man’s history through the area’s historic sites.