Petra Jordan is one of the Wonders of the World. It is a historical and archaeological city located across the border from Israel. It can be visited coming from Eilat Israel or from the north of Jordan if you crossed from the north of Israel or arriving by plane to Amman the capital.
El Kazneh the Treasure in Petra Jordan
Location of Petra
It lies on the slopes of Mount Hor among the mountains on the eastern flank of the Arabah Valley or in Arabic Wadi Arabah. This is the valley that runs from the Dead Sea Israel on the north and the Red Sea on the south into the city of Eilat Israel.
Petra meaning rock in Latin was the capital city of the Nabataean sometimes during the 6th century BCE. Today it is a symbol of Jordan and the number one tourist attraction in the country and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
It was described as “One of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage” and also chosen by the BBC in London as one of the “40 places you must see before you die”
Aerial view of the ancient Nabatean city of Petra Jordan
While on your Israel Vacations if you are visiting the Galilee on the north of the country you may cross into Jordan through the Sheikh Hussein Bridge near the city of Beit Shean. You will be entering Jordan through the north of the country. There are many places to visit on the way south, described on other pages, like Jerash, the capital city of Amman, Madaba Jordan and Mount Nebo before arriving into Petra Jordan.
If you are visiting Eilat, the Yitzhak Rabin Border Crossing is a few Km north and once in the country of Jordan, you have to drive north to Petra.
The area around Petra Jordan has been developed with a great touristic infrastructure and you will find hotels for any budget. We stayed at the Taybet Zaman Luxury Hotel, built from houses of an old village converted into a deluxe hotel where the “streets’ of the old village are the halls leading to the rooms.
Ruins of the Great Temple in Petra
Visiting Petra Jordan
From your hotel you will be taken to the town of Wadi Mussa near the actual ruins of the Nabataean city. Wear comfortable shoes, take a hat to protect you from the sun and take enough water with you.
Once there, be ready for one of your great life experiences. Everything you read about Petra didn’t prepare you for this spectacular place.
From the parking area you may walk, ride a horse or rent a horse drawn carriage to go through the Siq, a narrow gorge, of over one Km length flanked by 80 meters cliffs on both sides.
And then the surprise: El Khazneh, translated The Treasury, is the first building you see. This awe-inspiring building is actually the façade of 30 m wide by 45 m high, carved from the pink rock.
This façade is thought to be carved more than 2,000 years ago by this group of hard working Arab people called the Nabataean.
Because of its strategic location it was a center of trade for silk and spice from China, India and Arabia with Egypt, Greece and Rome.
This perfect Amphitheater is one of the attractions in Petra
Many more wonders to be seen here
After visiting the El Khazneh and taking hundreds of pictures from all angles, start walking through the valley and you’ll be overwhelmed not only by the natural beauty of the place, but also by the architectural forms of the many tombs. There are hundreds of well elaborated tombs with intricate carvings.
The earthquakes that have occurred during ages have destroyed some houses, but not the tombs tha are like tunnels carved into the mountains.
You will see an amphitheater holding about 3,000 people, obelisks, artificial altars, temples and if you want to climb 800 rocks carved steps you may reach the Ad-Deir Monastery.
Within the site there are two excellent museums; the Petra Archaeological Museum and the Petra Nabataean Museum representing finds from excavations in the Petra region and an insight into Petra's colorful past.
Inside the site, several artisans from the town of Wadi Musa and a nearby Bedouin settlement have set up small stalls selling local handicrafts, such as pottery and Bedouin jewelry and bottles of striated multi-colored sands from the area.
Since the 1994 Peace Treaty of Israel and Jordan signed by the late King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, tourism to Jordan from Israel has been in the rise. We visited with some of our children in December of that same year, being almost the pioneers and later we have visited several times with groups of pilgrims.
I always recommend Petra Jordan to those visiting Israel and a great “extension” to their trip. And once in Jordan, the other sites mentioned above shouldn’t be missed.
images for petra
amphitheater by david case
museum by jean hausen
all courtesy of wikimedia commons