Petra: The Rose Red City, Half as Old as Time

by Akhil Kalepu

Nov 15, 2014

Al-Khazneh, Petra, Jordan © Cunaplus | Dreamstime


Journey into southern Jordan’s Arabah Valley and discover the once lost capital of the Nabataean kingdom. During the 6th century BC, Petra was a thriving center of commerce, later absorbed by the Roman Empire in AD 106. The Galilee earthquake of 363 destroyed much of the city, and by the time of Saladin’s conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and lost from history.


After nearly a millennium, Petra reemerged to the world by the discovery of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss traveler who disguised himself as a Muslim to infiltrate the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812. His writings inspired more expeditions into the Arabah Valley, including the Scottish artist David Roberts, whose illustrations of the city became world famous. Excavations of Petra began in 1929 with the creation of the British protectorate, Transjordan.


Travelers interested in seeing Petra can do it in a daytrip, though there is enough to see to warrant an overnight stay.  A day pass will cost 90 Jordanian Dinar, equivalent to $127. For accommodated visitors staying overnight, a day pass is 50 JD, with an additional 5 JD for every extra day. These tickets are available only by cash, though some places accept credit cards on a limited basis. You can also hire a licensed, English-speaking tour guide from the Visitor Center.


The archeological park is within walking distance of Petra’s town center. The entrance is a winding sandstone canyon known as the Siq, with colorful sandstone patterns lining the walls. Once out of the Siq, visitors are greeted by al-Khazneh, Arabic for the treasury, and perhaps the most iconic image of classical-era Jordan. Other attractions include the 7,000-seat Roman Theater, which is still in use today; the Street of Facades, featuring a canyon lined with carved tombs; and the Monastery, which is Petra’s largest carved monument and located 800 steps up a mountain.


To learn more about visiting the archeological park of Petra, go to, the official Petra website of Jordan’s tourism board.


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