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Petra/Wadi Musa Tours
Massive façades are cut into the cliff face, soaring upwards to dizzying heights. Around every corner are masterpieces of vibrantly coloured and sculpted rock worthy of an art gallery but formed by nature rather than man. Ancient staircases cut into the rock lead to silent summits, where the grand vistas of jagged mountains spread out before you. This is the Nabataean capital of Petra, Jordan’s most impressive and most famous historical sight.
Petra has been a focus of settlement since pre-historic times, but it was under the Nabataeans that it reached its apotheosis as a centre for trade. From around the 3rd century BC, the Nabataeans began to abandon their nomadic lifestyle and build a city at Petra. Passing trade not only brought great wealth but also inspired a synthesis of Hellenistic, Egyptian and indigenous architectural influences, resulting in the stunning monuments for which Petra is famous.Read more
The magic of Petra is enhanced by the experience of walking through the Siq, the naturally formed narrow canyon that provides the atmospheric entranceway to the city. The Siq runs for 1.2 kilometres and in places is just 3 metres wide, with rock walls eroded into fantastic shapes towering up to 200 metres on each side. The numerous twists and turns of the path bring you suddenly to your first glimpse of the Treasury (Al Khazneh), one of Petra’s best preserved and most impressive temple façades. As you emerge from the Siq, the sudden bright sunlight and the sheer scale of this monument are truly dazzling. The Treasury towers to over 40 metres and is comprised of two tiers, supported by Corinthian columns and decorated with carvings.
Beyond the Treasury the main route passes tombs, dwellings, temples and the central city area, with its colonnaded Roman street. However, two of Petra’s most impressive sights are to be found above the valley floor. The Monastery (Ad Deir) is one of Petra’s best preserved monuments and the long steep climb to get there is well worth the effort. Equally stunning is the ‘High Place of Sacrifice’ on the summit of Jebel Madhbah, which affords magnificent views in all directions. Although thousands of tourists visit Petra each day, it is easy to find peaceful walks, beautiful views and little-visited monuments along the Petra back roads, still used by the local Bedouin but seldom trodden by the masses, so if you want to discover the real magic of this grand site, take time to trek out into the hills.