Petra, literally “rock” in Greek or “the rose city” by its common nickname, is an ancient Nabataeans city located in the south of Jordan. Only approachable to non-Muslims since the late 50’s, Petra is now considered one of the seven new world wonders and for a good reason: the city, whose structures were carved from the side of local red rock mountains, is an absolute architectural and archeological marvel, and today stands as Jordan’s most significant tourist attraction. So how can you get there and what are you expected to see? Read more to find out.
What to See in Petra
When a traveler comes to Petra he or she has to pass through the Sik Canyon, a narrow passages of smooth red rock, before he or she can see the city emerging, almost by surprise, at the end of it. This journey makes Petra seem as if it is born right in front of your eyes, and sets the tone for the entire visit.
The most notable structure is the Al-Khazneh, or “The Treasury”, an impressive Nabataeans temple that is the city’s greatest trademark. Having a dominant classical Greek-influenced architecture, Al-Khazneh demonstrates what a major axis of world trade and travel Petra used to be. The Al-Khazneh was made famous by its pop culture representations like in the famous film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and it is indeed very fitting for Indy to travel to the Al-Khazneh which is said to be holding the treasure of Pharaoh.
One other notable site is the City of the Dead, the town cemetery, which is a wonder to behold. In the middle of it, the Nabataeans have erected a giant theater that could hold up to eight thousand people that watched the ancient burial ceremonies.
The A-Dir, “The Monastery”, is located on the heights of Petra, and is only reachable via a long climb composed of 750 steps. It is more than worth the climb, because the A-Dir is the biggest structure in whole of Petra. As a result of the marks made by passing Christians, the A-Dir has received its nickname because the locals though it might be an ancient church. While it probably isn’t that, it is still well worth seeing.
How to Get There
Because the passage to Petra is located to the extreme south of Israel, the best way to get there is to take a Petra tour from the southern city of Eilat. While other methods of transportation are available, this is without a doubt the shortest, most comfortable, most interesting and cheapest way to get to Jordan and see this world wonder for yourself. Tours go out from Eilat throughout the year, and its closeness to Petra allows the traveler to combine the experience of a great trip with the experience of a great resort city.