A tour guide’s suggestions for visitors to Petra

Exterior view of the rock-cut architecture of Ad Deir or The Monastery at Petra, Jordan. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
AMMAN — Visitors to one of the new seven world wonders, the rose-red marvel that is Petra, are advised to carefully plan their visit if they wish to enjoy the site and not miss out on any of its highlights.اضافة اعلان

Petra, 235km south of Amman, was built 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, an Arab tribe; it is famous for its façades cut into its sandstone mountains.
This UNESCO site is the largest and most visited in Jordan and appeared in many famous movies, such as Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Transformers 2 : The Revenge of the Fallen.

There is no single trip to Jordan that does not include Petra, and many people would visit Jordan just to see it.

Petra can be visited in many different ways. Some visit for a couple of hours, others might book for several days to see every part of the archeological site and participate in other activities.

The common visit is usually a full-day exploration of the main site, with a local guide for the first four hours.

After the guided tour, guests can continue sightseeing on their own, choosing one or more of the many optional hikes, like climbing up to the Monastery, the High Place of Sacrifice, Jabal Harun, or the Khubtha Trail.
Golf carts and horses are available at the main entrance for an additional fee, only for the first 2km of the trail.

Golf carts are allowed to go the whole way down to the Treasury, where mules, donkeys, and camels would be waiting to carry people further into the site.
After a long day of hiking, visitors return to their hotels to prepare for a night in Petra.

View of Petra at night. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Petra by night is most popular; it is the only activity that allows visitors to enter the site after sunset.

This event entails a 2Km walk with candles lighting the Siq and the Treasury. At the end of the trek, guests can delight in listening to the stories and traditional music of local hosts.

Visitors who do not wish to see Petra by night can join a cooking class and learn how to make their own Jordanian dishes, such as mansaf, maklouba, or galayeh.

Accommodation in Petra ranges from international 5-star hotels to bed and breakfast, all located in the Wadi Mousa town. Desert camps are also available in the nearby Baidha area.

Food is available at hotels, tourist and local restaurants, bars, cafés, and supermarkets.

Guests also have the opportunity to join an organized family meal and interact with the locals in their homes.
Most visitors arrive at Petra overnight to start the visit to the site early in the morning.

View of Petra at night. (Photo: Flickr)

For guided tours, possible in almost all common languages, the guide meets his guests at the visitor center, and from there, they walk down Bab As-Siq area, with a stop at the Obelisk Tomb, a burial complex with four pyramid-shaped pillars at the top, which, it is believed, symbolize those buried in the four side graves of the inner chamber.

Bab as-Siq, meaning laterally “the door of the Siq” ends at the Dam, which was built by the Nabataeans to protect the city’s entrance from floods.
The Siq, the original main entrance of Petra, is 1,200 meters long and one of the top highlights. Several landmarks may be seen there, including the aqueducts that the Nabataeans made to draw water into their capital city.

 (Photo: Envato)

Toward the end of the walk in the Siq, Jordan’s most famous monument starts to appear: the Treasury. It is the tomb where the Holy Grail was hidden, according to Indiana Jones.

The Treasury, a 40-meter-high by 29-meter-wide façade carved into the rock, is believed to have been built as a tomb for King Aretas IIII in 9 BC-40 AD, according to archeologists. It got its name from a local myth about a hidden treasure inside.

After the Treasury, the site starts to open toward the rest of the ancient city. The main trail passes by several monuments; one is the theater, which once seated 5,000 spectators, archeologists say.

Petra also has a colonnaded street known as the decumanus, built probably in the 2nd century AD, when the city was annexed by the Roman Empire and became the capital of the Roman Province of Arabia.

At the end of this street, there are three freestanding temples: the Great Temple, the Temple of the Winged Lions, and the Temple of Dushares (Qasr el Bint). The last has puzzled archeologists with its stripes of wood enclosed into its walls, maybe to absorb earthquakes.

(Photo: Envato)

Opposite to Qasr el Bint is Petra Church, a Byzantine church built in the 6th century where archeologists found very important papyrus scrolls that provided rare information about Petra during that era.

There, the guided tour ends, giving the visitors the time to return back or start one of the most famous hikes in Jordan, up to the Monastery, a huge façade that dates back to the 1st century BC and is thought to have been built as a temple to worship Nabataean King Obodas.

The climb to the Monastery can be done walking or on a mule. It is around 800 stairs carved into the rock, and going all the way up is highly rewarding, because of the Monastery itself and because of the spectacular views all around. It makes for a great spot to watch the sunset.

(Photo: Flickr)

Petra back-trail is the option for some people who wish to see the Monastery first and then climb down to see the rest of the site.

This back trail usually starts after spending a night at a Bedouin camp in Baidha, an ancient suburb of Petra.

Petra is more than an archeological site. A visit needs two or more nights to discover and experience the local culture.

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