The city of Petra is hidden in the hills below Wadi Mousa. The city was originally known to the Nabateans as Raqmu, meaning colourful. Since then it has received the official name of Petra, meaning rock in Greek, and the nickname of the Red Rose City due to the pinkish-red colour of the rocks.
Entry to the city is via a chasm in the rocks called the Siq. The walls of this chasm are approximately 80 metres high, and the distance from the start of the Siq to it’s end point of the Treasury is 1200 metres.
The Treasury earned it’s name from rumours that it was where all the gold was hidden in an urn at the top. Bullet holes in the urn show the Bedouin attempts to determine if this was the case. Building of the Treasury started around the 9th century BC, which was some time after the city of Petra was established as the capital city for the Nabatean people around the 4th century BC.
The place of High Sacrifice was one of the sites higher up on the mountains that was recommended for us to see, but most strongly recommended was the walk up to the Ad-Deir Monastery at the end of the city’s road.
According to our guide it is 866 steps up to the monastery, the path is constantly winding upwards and around the mountainside. In the heat of the day the walk is exhausting, but once you reach the top it all becomes worth the effort. The monastery is in my opinion equally as spectacular as the Treasury. In fact it probably feels a bit more special as there are fewer tourists and Bedouin touting their wares and services.
Sitting at the monastery and soaking up the atmosphere is a fantastic way to recharge your batteries before walking several kilometres back to the visitor centre to end your visit.
Cost: 50JOD for a single day pass, or a single day pass is included in the Jordan Wanderer pass.
Petra by Night
After having seen photos of the event on Instagram, I was ridiculously keen to see Petra by Night. The show starts at 8:30pm sharp from the visitors centre and takes 2 hours including the walk in and out of the city.
The walk in to the city is lit by candles on either side of the road and through the Siq. It is beautiful and calming.
Everyone is seated behind the candles on rugs, the crowd is silenced and the show begins. Echoing through the valley is the sound of a flute playing a local melody, this is followed by the playing of an old style violin/guitar and the lone voice of a Bedouin man singing a traditional song. The show concludes with a Bedouin gentleman recalling a story of the history of Petra.
When the show concludes you have some time to take photos before meandering back to the visitors centre.
I absolutely loved the Petra by Night experience, I felt very grounded and calm; it was almost a meditative experience. It was simply breathtaking to see such ancient architecture by the glow of the candles. But I must say that I consider it excessively overpriced for what it is and the actual ‘show’ is ridiculously short.