Countries,  Jordan

A little bit about the ancient temple of Petra: the desert city

Hello dear! How are you feeling? Today we will walk around the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. We will plunge into history and find out why this desert city is so attractive.


At the beginning of the 6th century BC there was a nomadic tribe heading from Northern Arabia to the north. Gradually they supplanted the local population and it was Petra that became their main location. The nomads called their city Rqm (Rakmu). Later the Greeks simply translated the name into their own language. “Petra” in Greek means “rock”. The advantages are obvious: natural security, safe water supply, fertile land favorable for agriculture and cattle breeding. But the most important is the geographical location at the trade routes intersection between the Red and Mediterranean Seas. The nomads subsequently called themselves the Nabataeans. In Arabic “Nabat” means “heart”, “center”.

They were hardworking and peaceful people. In war they preferred tactics and peaceful issue solutions through gifts. This tactic was successful with the Romans and Greeks, so most of the time the Nabataeans remained independent.

Petra's architects created a complex water supply system with the help of pipes. And despite the surrounding desert the city was never in need of water. About 200 rainwater reservoirs were located across the city. In addition terracotta pipes collected water from all sources within 25 kilometers. Without this the city would hardly lasted long.

But in 106 A.D. the last Nabataean king dies and Petra becomes the capital of Arabia Roman province. The Romans naturally redesigned the city for themselves. They formed  the main street with colonnade, temples and baths along it. Under the Romans the city was still developing although the main trade routes started to shift to the north. By that time the Romans managed to find trade routes to the East by the sea. And in 663 A.D. an earthquake almost fully destroyed buildings and a water system.

Until the 19th century the city was forgotten and Europeans considered Petra a mythical city like Atlantis. But in 1812 young explorer Johann Ludwig Burkhardt pretended to be a Muslim and entered the city to make a sacrifice.

And he became the first European who saw the facade of the Treasury in 6 centuries. By this time the Nabataean people disappeared leaving modern Bedouins as their heritors.

The first real archeological excavations started in 1929. Since then Petra has become the main Jordan attraction. Steven Spielberg filmed here his famous 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ (1989).

Petra is one of New Seven Wonders of the World. On the territory of the temple there are more than 800 attractions. And this is only 15% of all the ruins covered with red sand.


I myself got there in November 2018. It was an excursion from Aqaba. I just found an agency on the Internet -https: //

From Aqaba to the temple it is about 2 hours drive. From Amman it is 260 km and 3.5 hours along the Desert Highway or 6 hours along the Royal Highway. JETT shuttle buses run from both cities.

There are also excursion programs from Eilat, Taba, Sinai and Sharm El Sheikh.

Petra is officially open from 7.00 to 18.00, but in practice from sunrise to sunset. The best months to visit are from March to May or from September to November. From December to February it is very cold there especially at night. But there will be no 3000 visitors per day.

Ideal plan is to spend at least 2 days here. The complex is large enough and in one day it is possible to see only the main attractions.

Petra Night is held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 20:30. The entrance ticket costs 12 JD and no need in day pass. There will be Bedouin music, tea in plastic cups and candles everywhere.

Entrance fees:

  • for 1 day — 50 Jordanian dinars ($ 70);
  • for 2 days — 55 Jordanian dinars ($ 77);
  • guide — 50 Jordanian dinars ($ 70).

But we are not finished yet with Petra) Next time we will walk around the whole complex. Are you with me?) MarrySav

This post is also available in: Russian

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