Petra, often referred to as the “Rose City” due to its pink-hued rock formations, is one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world. Located in southern Jordan, this ancient city is a testament to the ingenuity and artistry of the Nabataean civilization. But before you embark on your journey to this World Heritage site, there are a few things you should know.
The trek to Petra begins at the entryway. The Siq, a tiny, twisting ravine bordered by high cliffs, opens up dramatically to show the city’s most renowned landmark, Al-Khazneh, or the Treasury. This magnificent facade, artistically carved into the rose-red cliffs, provides only a glimpse of the city’s immensity and architectural splendor. But Petra is more than simply its stunning splendor. With its sophisticated water conduit system and the Nabateans’ ability to transform the arid desert into a thriving metropolis, it is a testimony to human ingenuity.
Petra expands beyond the Treasury to reveal a city of tombs, temples, and old streets. The Royal Tombs, Monastery, and Great Temple demonstrate the Nabateans’ building prowess and artistic sensitivities. Each monument, with its intricate carvings and design, tells the narrative of a bygone civilisation – of kings and queens, trade and commerce, art and culture.
The splendor of Petra, however, is not limited to its rock-cut structures. It’s in the whispers of history that resonate through its canyons, the legends of a bygone period that come to life in the company of a skilled guide, and the sheer awe of discovering a city that was lost to the world for years before being rediscovered in 1812.
Is It Worth Getting a Guide in Petra?
Absolutely. While Petra is visually stunning, its true beauty lies in the stories and history embedded within its walls. A knowledgeable guide can provide insights into the architectural marvels, the significance of the carvings, and the history of the Nabateans who built this city from the ground up.
Deep Dive into History: Petra isn’t just about beautiful rock-cut architecture. It’s a city with a rich history that spans centuries. A guide can narrate tales of trade, culture, and wars that once echoed in these canyons.
Hidden Gems: Petra covers a vast area, and there are many off-the-beaten-path sites. With a guide, you’re less likely to miss these hidden gems.
Cultural Etiquette: A local guide can also educate visitors on the do’s and don’ts, ensuring that tourists respect the local customs and traditions.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Guide in Petra?
The cost of hiring a guide in Petra can vary based on several factors:
Duration: A short, two-hour tour might cost around 20-25 JOD, while a full-day tour can range from 50-70 JOD.
Expertise: Specialized guides, who have in-depth knowledge about Petra’s archaeology or history, might charge a premium.
Group Size: Personalised or small group tours might be pricier than larger group tours.
Language: English-speaking guides are common, but if you require a guide who speaks another language, it might affect the cost.
It’s advisable to book a guide through a reputable tour agency or at its Visitor Center to ensure you’re getting a licensed professional.
How Many Days is Enough for Petra, Jordan?
It is expansive, and while it’s possible to see the main attractions in a day, truly soaking in its beauty and history requires more time.
One Day: If you’re short on time, one day is enough to see the main attractions like the Treasury (Al-Khazneh), the Street of Facades, and the Royal Tombs. Start early to avoid the midday sun and the crowds.
Two Days: A two-day visit allows you to explore the Monastery (Ad-Deir), which requires a hike but offers stunning views. On the second day, you can also visit the High Place of Sacrifice and explore some of the lesser-known trails.
Three Days or More: For the true Petra enthusiasts, three days allow for a comprehensive exploration. You can visit its Museum, take the back trails, and even explore the site at night during the “Petra by Night” experience.
Tips for Visiting Petra:
Stay Hydrated: It is vast, and the desert climate can be unforgiving. Carry plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and don a hat.
Wear Comfortable Shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, and the terrain can be uneven. Sturdy, comfortable shoes are a must.
Respect the Site: It is a World Heritage site. Avoid touching the ancient walls or carving on them. Let’s preserve its beauty for future generations.
Local Crafts: There are several Bedouin stalls selling handicrafts. Purchasing from them supports the local community.
Petra, with its majestic beauty and rich history, is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Jordan. Whether you’re marveling at the Treasury or hiking up to the Monastery, the ancient city promises an experience like no other. And while it’s possible to explore on your own, hiring a guide can greatly enrich your experience. So, pack your bags, lace up your walking shoes, and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the heart of Jordan’s archaeological wonder.