On my trip to Jordan, after my one night in Wadi Rum, it was off to Petra, Jordan. I had yet to learn what Petra was about, but knew it would be very interesting. By the time we got to Petra, about a 3-hour drive plus lunch, we got to Little Petra. Little Petra is an ancient city like the famous Petra (which we’ll soon talk more about), but only on a much smaller scale.
Even though this site looks similar to Petra (which you’ll soon see), its purpose is slightly different. Historians believe this place was built during the 1st century when the Nabatean city thrived, and Little Petra was a type of suburb. Thus, you will not find tombs here but houses used by rich citizens or travelers arriving in Petra for their lucrative trade business. Here is an image of Little Petra, and you’ll soon see how similar but much larger Petra (the city) is.
After we toured Little Petra, we drove to our hotel, Movenpick. The location was fabulous because it was right across the street from the entrance to Petra (the city) and to the Petra Museum.
That evening, we decided to buy tickets to see Petra at Night. I had no idea what I was getting into, and I’m glad I didn’t. It was a 40-minute walk in the dark with a somewhat lit pathway into Petra (the city) to the famous building The Treasury to hear a Bedouin music show. The show was only half an hour and not worth it. The trek was hard with rugged terrain, and if I didn’t have my cell phone’s flashlight and my girlfriend’s arm to hold onto, it would have been more challenging to navigate.
But we did it, and whether it was worth the walk depends on who you ask! Here is the pathway that we walked at night for 40 minutes. The second photo shows our destination.
Here it is at night. Yup, Over 300 people on the ground (that sloped, might I add), and it was Halloween soon before the 31st!!!
Trust me, it was dangerous and scary…But yes, it was an adventure!
So, what is Petra?
The city of Petra was established as a trading post by the Nabateans, an Arab Bedouin tribe indigenous to the region in what is now southwestern Jordan. The Nabateans lived and traded in Petra and accumulated much wealth, and the Greek Empire attacked the city in 312 B.C.
The Nabateans defeated the Greeks by taking advantage of the mountainous terrain surrounding the city. However, the Romans invaded Petra in 106 AD, and the Nabateans were forced to surrender. The Roman Empire annexed their newly gained territory and changed its name to Arabia Petraea. They ruled over the city for over 250 years until the middle of the fourth century A.D., when an earthquake destroyed many buildings. The Byzantines then took control of the region and governed Petra for about 300 years.
After the eighth century, when Petra was largely abandoned as a trading center, its stone structures were used for shelter by nomadic shepherds for several centuries. Then, in 1812, Petra was discovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
Once the Western world became aware of Petra’s existence, it attracted architects and scholars alike. In 1929, the British archaeologists Agnes Conway and George Horsfield and scholars Tawfiq Canaan and Ditlef Nielsen created a formal project to excavate and survey Petra.
In 1985, Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Jordanian government forcibly relocated the Petra Bedouin tribespeople who had lived in the caves of Petra. In the early 2000s, the site was named one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World,” leading to many foreign visitors. Since then, efforts have been made to protect the ruins of Petra from heavy tourism and damage from floods, rain, and other environmental factors. Despite these issues, Petra is a site to behold, and here are some photos!
This is the entrance into the city of Petra called The Siq.
When you see The Treasury, you know you have officially entered the “actual” city.
Here are some pictures of the actual landscape. We walked 3 miles to the only American-type restaurant in Petra and then 3 miles back. It was hot and dusty, but I must say that I imagined I was in a desert movie set. It was an amazing and surrealistic experience and worth the trip.
Petra is a fantastic experience. If you have a sense of adventure and want to explore the unknown, don’t miss it when things get better in the region! It is truly wondrous.