An Insiders' Guide To Petra...

12th March 2019
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For many, the rock-cut and rose-coloured ancient city of Petra in Jordan is the ultimate bucket list destination. A glance at pictures of this evocative site alone is enough to inspire wanderlust in the viewer, so it’s not hard to imagine the spectrum of emotions experienced while standing before these intricately carved façades.

Jordan – and Petra in particular – continues to be one of our most popular places for guests wanting an archaeological adventure and we have a special tour on offer that can take you there.

Jordan - Petra & the Desert Fortresses | £2,995pp

This is a 10-day expert-led and all-inclusive exploration of Jordan, including Petra. Led by expert archaeologist Nick Jackson, this trip features 2 full days discovering the history, stories and architecture of Petra. Additionally, you will tour exhibits at Amman's Archaeological Museum, visit the best-preserved Roman town in the east at Jerash, cruise the striking desert scenery of Wadi Rum aboard a fleet of 4x4s, and discover the mighty crusader castle at Kerak. What's more, you'll get to experience weightlessness in the Dead Sea. With departures in both spring and autumn, this is an ideal tour of the archaeological traveller. 

So, how much do you know about Petra? Read on to find out more about this captivating ancient city…

1) If you choose our optional climb to the Monastery, be prepared for quite the hike.

Ensure you’re wearing sturdy shoes for this walk as you’ll need to climb around 850 steps up a mountain to reach this monument – one of Petra’s largest. It’s worth noting that there are no bathrooms once you reach the Monastery, but there is a bar that serves fruit juices. 

2) The magnificent façade featured very briefly in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Fans of this movie will recognise the impressive Al-Khazneh – Petra’s rock-carved Treasury – from the movie, which was the only scene filmed in Jordan. The rest of the footage was shot in both American and southern Spain.

3) Another piece of movie trivia – Lawrence of Arabia was shot in Jordan in the 1960s.

The film’s protagonist, Captain T.E. Lawrence fought his real life battles there when he was sent to Arabia in 1916 to work. He visited Petra, Arzak, the Crusader castle at Kerak and more, and our tours to Petra allow you to follow in his famous footsteps.

4) Some of the most important carvings on the walls of the Treasury were destroyed.

The Bedouin of the Arabian Desert used them as targets during shooting practice, meaning that many were ruined.

5) It’s nickname is the ‘Lost City’.

This nickname came about because it was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812 after being uninhabited for over five centuries. Before that, it was believed to have once been home to around 30,000 people and was an important trading city.

6) Back in 2016, drone photography and satellite imagery helped archaeologists to discover a monument buried beneath sand.

This monument measured 184x161ft. It hasn’t yet been excavated, but surface pottery has been recovered and it dates from the mid-2nd century BC.

7) Petra has endured many earthquakes.

It suffered at the hands of devastating earthquakes between 1 BC and AD 8, and in AD 363 around half the city was destroyed by another one. Artefacts from the site were likely raided, and some areas of destruction were never restored.

8) The name Petra is derived from the Greek word ‘petros’, which translates as rocks.

9) Despite what you may hear, it will take more than a day for a full exploration of Petra.

This is a sprawling archaeological site, with ruins scattered over around 60 square kilometres. Spread your visit across at least 2 days, if you can.

10) Petra became a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site in 1985.

It is also one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, alongside Chichén Itzá, Rome’s Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue, Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.

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