Marhaba Bikum fi Petra! (Welcome to Petra!)
There are places that enchant you and there are places that astonish you with their unique beauty, Architecture and mystery… For me, such a place is Petra in Jordan. In Greek, the word Petra means stone. Almost 7 years ago and up to this day, I often recall it on my mind. It is on the top of my 3 most favourite destinations! 🙂
Unfortunately, we spent only 1 day and we explored the whole area in a hurry, in order to catch up everything. What a mistake!! Petra is huge with many archaeological sites and in my opinion, you should spend 2-3 days, if you really want to experience and capture its real beauty and culture.
Lost City or Pink CIty
Petra has other names also, such as “Lost City” and “Pink City”. I would call it “The Masterpiece of Hydraulic System and Architecture“. When I first saw its size, many questions arose in my mind, the main was “how on earth did they supply water in the middle of this desert?? – From Where ??? The answers are many and impressive.
It is important to mention that, Archaeologists excavated only the 25% (many argue 15%). I can not imagine how the site would look like if the 100% had been excavated, which is inconceivable if I bring to my memory this huge place.
Some History about Petra
For 2000 years the city was hidden in the desert’s darkness, until 1812 where the dashing Swiss explorer J.L. Burckhardt, explored the treasures of this city.
Petra was a trading centre for gold, silk and spices, from the so-called Nabataean caravans from Arabia linking Asia, Europe and Africa. The so-called Nabataeans (Greek and Roman sources gave the name os Petra) decided to gather their resources in the Petra area, where it was the home of 30,000 residents. In addition, the main Nabatean language was Greek.
The Αrchaeological sites have effects from the Hellenistic, Egyptian and Indian areas. Indeed many areas are similar to Matala, in Crete and Cairo in Egypt. It is remarkable to note the method of the curved monuments, started from the top and worked their way down. Impressive is that the city was not built but carved onto the rocks without any scaffolding used.
This fact initiated my interest! After an investigation, I discovered that they used horizontal ramps (with the help of Metal vertical supports, on the rock) from top to down. This explains the non – existence of any traces of auxiliary studs and the use of any scaffolding.
Really impressive is the way they managed to transform Petra in a true desert oasis. The Nabataeans must have been excellent Engineers to manage to feed with water this region. I will not go into technical details. I will simply tell you that the nearest water source was located at 8 km in distance with Petra and they were able to feed the whole Petra area with daily water supply, enough for all the residents (30000), using a 200 kilometres water pipe!! Besides that, the area also had 8 springs and various pools. They also had built an impressive rain waterfall system (re-routing of the water, channels and many other systems).
How to get to Petra
Petra is about 3 hours away from the capital of Jordan, Amman. We personally rented a car for 1 week, from Amman, where we explored the whole Jordan and visited Petra also. It’s very safe and easy to drive around, just be sure to have a map or something similar and please follow it. In our case, we got lost on the way to Petra and almost reached Israel’s borders, where we almost caught by armed soldiers. No, I am not kidding! The story in another post. 🙂
Another way of transportation is to rent a taxi (its quite expensive – around 100 euros) or take the JETT BUSSES which leaves early in the morning and returns in the evening (3 hours distance) and the last stop is in Petra’s ticket box office. It’s better to rent a room for at least one night because you will be exhausted to return on the same day.
There are a lot of hotels 10 minutes from Petra. Many hotels have free transportation to the Petra site also. I would advise you to find an accommodation that has a spa. No, it is not a luxury (you can find many affordable), after a day in Petra you will understand what I mean. On our return, we went straight to the hot Jacuzzi to relieve our body pain. 🙂
Tickets, Best season
At the main gate, you can find the ticket box office where you can buy your tickets. I should point out that you have to prove your stay in Jordan for at least one night, otherwise you will pay almost double the value of the normal ticket (JD90). The price 7 years ago for one day, was JD25 (about 30 Euro)… Now it has double the price JD60 (60 euros approximately). Believe me, it worths every euro! For two days has JD55 and for 3 days JD60. Children under 15 years are free and you have to pay by cash only. Also from there you can get maps and hire a guide if you want. It is open from 6 am to 6 pm during the summer, and 6 in the morning – 4 pm in the winter.
The best time is early in the morning, it is cooler and you will have time to explore it withouts the big crowds. Believe me, it gets overcrowded so the best is to arrive there at 6 am. The best season to visit is during Spring and Autumn / Winter where it is not so hot. Summer temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees!
Also, three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evening from 8.30 to 10.30 you can enjoy Petra by candlelight. There is a separate ticket for the price of JD55 (about 20 euros). At that time was not established yet, but I heard from my friends that are really worth it. On the way to the tunnel (Siq) and the Treasury there are candles and when you reach the Treasury you can enjoy traditional music also.
Things to consider
- Dress comfortable with light clothing and comfortable shoes, you will walk a lot. For women please respect their culture, avoiding wear sleeveless, shorts and generally whatever is too much revealing. Remember that you are in a Muslim country.
- Take water with you, you can obtain it from the various shops along the region also but it’s more expensive.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen.
- If you want to see the whole site up to Monastery it’s better to book for at least 2 days. Do not make our mistake. We were running almost all the time. As a result, I did not shoot nice pictures, we did not experience the local restaurants (just a quick stop for coffee), we did not interact enough with the locals, we did not see in detail the whole site and we returned back to swollen feet. Still, it’s worth the effort but just do not book it for just 1 day. Also do not make the mistake, as many tourists do, and go only for the Siq and the Treasury. Petra has remarkable monuments and worth to see them all, it is one of the finest monuments in the world and one of new’s world 7 wonders!
- There are several cafes, restaurants and shops along the way. The Jordanian cuisine is amazing and it is worth trying the local specialities.
- There are toilets at various points.
- You can hire donkeys to climb in the area of the monastery. It is about 1-hour walk of 800 steps. The view is spectacular! We did not ride any animals, as I observed that some of them were not treated well. Also, you can rent a camel or horse-drawn carriage at the entrance.
- A lot of locals will try to offer you tea/coffee in their shop or to hire an animal at a cost of course. Do not worry there are just lovely people and the majority of them speaks English.
While I was writing this post, I was planning to write the whole experience up to the Monastery. Until I realized that we explored it very quickly and there are some attractions we did not visit. Regarding the food, I would like to mention it in detail (which we did not experience it, while we were in Petra) because it is one of the tastiest cuisines I’ve tried My favourite is Hummus!!!
The last and most important is the photography! I failed to take presentable photos – most of the photos here are from my friend Marvin who recently visited Petra. Thank you! 🙂
For all the reasons above, it is worth another visit of 2-3 days to really experience the whole site. This post is just a small guide and a very small taste of the Pink City. Details with our feelings, the unique beauty, the food, monuments, people and much more soon on the next post! As you may understand we will be revisiting Petra soon! 🙂
Last Tip: Before you leave Petra and generally from Jordan, taste Sisha! Although I am a non-smoker, the combination of mint, apple, Arabic music and the whole atmosphere really made me in Love with this bubbling adventure. Love it!
As-salam Alaykum (Peace be upon you) 🙂