The capital of Nabataean Kingdom, the ancient wealthy trade hub, the once vibrant city that was lost and forgotten for centuries – The Petra. What is so magnificent about this city that attracts millions of people from all over the world? If you want to know the answer to this question – book one of our Tours to Petra from Aqaba or Amman. Whether it is a One Day Petra Tour or a Custom Tour, you will enjoy this unique journey and admire the extraordinary beauty of Petra.
Petra and Nabatean Kingdom
Petra was the capital of an ancient kingdom Edom, later the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. The Nabataeans (nomadic Arab tribe) called their capital Rakmu, it was strategically located among major ancient trade routs, serving as a crossroad between Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria-Phoenicia, India, China and the Mediterranean Basin. Nabataeans were masterful merchants and grew enormously wealthy through trade. As a result they were able to build this beautiful city and leave behind a legacy that continues to astonish historians and visitors alike more than two millennia later. The Nabataeans were some of the most influential people in the Near East after Alexander the Great. They were also some of the greatest hydraulic engineers in the ancient world.
The political power of the Nabataeans was sustained by wealth. Therefore, when the Romans opened the new sea route to the East and the merchants could avoid the long and expensive desert routes – Petra’s trade came to naught. Eventually in AD 106 the Romans took over the Nabatean kingdom and its independence. Nabateans, Romans and Byzantines built the city of Petra from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. With the time Petra gradually emptied and lost in the sand, remained unknown to the world for centuries, until it was rediscovered in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Other Nabataean cities have been found in north Saudi Arabia, south Palestine, Sinai and other areas in Jordan, but non of them could be compared to Petra.
Petra Visitor Center
The ancient site of Petra and its Visitor Center are open every day, in the summer time from 06:00 to 18:00, in the winter time from 06:00 to 16:00. Brochures introducing Petra and describing its monuments, as well as trail maps are available free of charge at the Visitor Center in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. Official tour guides can be booked from the Visitor Center, they are speaking Arabic, English, Germany, Greek, French, Russian, Spanish. If you are planning to have a self-guided tour, we recommend you to visit The Petra Museum, located right next to the Visitor Center. Open every day, from 10:00 to 23:30, admission is free. It takes about 45 minutes to go through all the exhibitions and watch several videos, they explaining everything you need to know about the history of Petra its monuments, the culture of Nabataeans and much more.
Petra 1 Day Tour
If you want to see the most significant sites of ancient Petra in 1 day, there are 2 recommended trails. Both trails starts from the Visitor Center and taking you to the ancient Petra through the canyon Siq. The Siq is an eastern entrance, leading to the city of Petra, a split rock with a length of about 1,2 km and a width of 3-12 m, and height of up to 80 m. The Siq opens into the dramatic entryway to the Petra’s most elaborate monument – The Treasury (Al-Khazneh).
PETRA MAIN TRAIL
The Main Trail is the most visited trail in Petra, it starts from the Visitor Center through the Siq to: The Treasury. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jordan. It is believed that the structure was the mausoleum of the Nabatean King Aretas IV in the 1st century AD. It was carved out of a sandstone rock face, decorated with Corinthian capitals, friezes, figures.. It is almost 40 m high, consists of two floors with a width of 25 m. The Street of Facades is the impressive row of monumental Nabataean tombs, carved in the cliff. The Theatre for 4000 spectators, consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways, with seven stairways ascend the auditorium. The Nymphaeum was once a semicircular public fountain, now it is obscured by a juniper tree that is 450 years old. The Colonnaded Street. It is believed that this place was the main shopping street of an ancient Petra. The Girl’s Palace or Qasr Al-Bint Fir’aun, translates from Arabic as The Palace of Pharaoh’s Daughter, was supposedly built in the 2nd half of the 1st century BC. Approximate round trip walking distance of this trial is 8 km, duration – 3,5-4 hours. Easy level of intensity. This trail can be self-guided. Guided tour coast 50 JD / $70 per person.
AD-DEIR MAIN TRAIL
It is the Main Trail + Ad-Deir (The Monastery) Trail. After completing the Main Trail by reaching The Girl’s Palace, you can stop at one of the two restaurants for a break and then continue your trip. On the way to Ad-Deir you will see another significant monument – The Lion Triclinium, named after the bas-reliefs in the form of lions located on both sides of the doorway. This structure was build in the middle of the 1st century AD and served for ritual purposes. The pilasters on both sides of the doorway are completed by Nabataean capitals with floral ornamentation and other remarkable bas-reliefs of women’s heads above them. Another 30-40 minutes of walking and you will finally reach Ad-Deir, the 2nd most commonly visited monument in Petra. The Monastery’s rock-cut facade is about 45 m high and 50 m wide. It is a spectacular example of Nabataean architecture, the mixture of Hellenistic and Mesopotamian styles of construction. The structure was first constructed in 3 BCE as a monumental Nabataean tomb. This part of the trail involves climbing 800 steps path. Approximate round-trip walking distance is 10,5 km, duration – 6-7 hours. Moderate level of intensity. This trail can be self-guided. Guided tour – 100 JD / $140 per person.