What’s inside the famous treasury at Petra? I’ve always wondered. Is it just like in the movie Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade? Is it the entryway to a complex underground labyrinth and crypt? As one of the 7 Wonders Of The World, Petra was definitely on my must-see list when visiting Jordan. And I don’t know why, but for some reason I expected we’d hop on camels and have some kind of long trek into the desert to see this single massive carving into the side of a rock.
I was so wrong.
Brush aside your film and television influences (as I had to do with mine), because as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra is a lot more organized. It’s kind of like visiting a park. There’s a ticket booth and entrance with gift shops selling bottled water, t-shirts, scarves, and Indiana Jones style hats (Yes, I bought one. Because, why not? It’s fun.)
What surprised me most, though, was the sheer size of the place. I didn’t expect to walk through a massive ancient city and see dozens of buildings and structures carved into rock. Turns out, the Treasury is only a small little piece of this archeological site. Granted, it’s the most recognized, but it’s not the biggest by any stretch. Here’s a little photo journey to give you a feeling of what it’s like to walk through Petra. If I can give you one tip, it’s bring your most comfy hiking shoes because it’s much bigger, and way more beautiful, then I imagined it would be.
At the visitor’s entrance, there’s a long clay road surrounded by weathered sandstone hills, where as you get closer, you’ll begin to see carvings, caves and other remnants of a prior civilization.
As you walk further, you’re actually descending into a cavernous mountain range, though, you won’t notice it until you’re walking out of the site and making a very slow uphill climb. 😉
Make sure you take your time and plan to stay the whole day at Petra. As you look left and right throughout the walk, you’ll notice even more caverns and formations in the rock.
Wind and weather have eroded the top of this rock formation to the point of resembling a sphinx.
As you get further in, the carvings become more intricate, perhaps because they’re a bit more protected from the surrounding hills.
This one below is the Tomb of the Obelisks, dating back to 40-70 AD based on Aramaic and Greek writing next to the tomb.
You’ll noticed the rock formations beginning to tower higher and higher as you make your way further into Petra until you eventually come to the Siq, an Arabic word meaning “passage.” It’s a narrow entrance into the city and the temperature will go from hot and dry in the sun to cool and breezy within the shade of the sandstone, so you’ll want to dress in layers.
The way the light cast shadows and changes the color of the sandstone from deep reds and pinks to bright gold is simply stunning.
If you have a guide (which I highly recommend for learning and discovering more than you would simply by walking through), then they’ll show you some of the formations and statues carved into the rocks, such as these two elephants, or the what’s left of camel hooves and the feet of gods.
From here, you can take a camel ride or continue walking to see the rest of the city, including homes, temples, and even a theatre.
Thankfully, there’s a few places to stop and rest with a cup of tea or fresh squeezed pomegranate juice and even a place to grab some lunch.
You’ll also find some local handmade crafts, teas, and spices which make great souvenirs.
Make sure you leave enough time to have one last lingering look at The Treasury before making your way back through the Siq to the entrance. It might be small compared to the impressive size of the whole city, but it’s a memory that will stay with you forever.
This post was brought to you as a result of the #GoJordan blog trip, created and managed by iAmbassador in partnership with Visit Jordan. The Travel Bite maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.