- Visitor Centre Plaza
- tel, info: 215 6020
- one-day pass 21.00; two-day pass 26.00; three-day pass 31.00
- Oct-Apr: 06:30-17:00; May-Sep: 06:00-17:30, times are for ticket purchase; you can usually remain in Petra until sunset
Lonely Planet review for Petra
Petra is the sort of place that usually exists only in the imagination. This unique ancient city was hewn from a towering rock wall; few of the imposing facades of its great buildings are freestanding. Make sure you take as much film as you can carry because every nook and cranny is a Kodak moment.
It's hard to overrate Petra. There's no other sight in Jordan, or perhaps the whole Middle East, as compelling - the locals know it, and they'll charge you accordingly. Once the capital of the Nabateaeans, a 3rd century BC Arab dynasty, Petra was forgotten for 1000 years and only rediscovered in 1812. It raised its public profile with an appearance in the movie Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade. Since its discovery and up until the 1980s, it was home to a number of Bedouin families who have since been relocated, an arrangement they are less than happy with. Don't expect a serene and contemplative visit: up to 3000 people come here every day.
You really need to spend a couple of days here to get the feel of the place, which means paying the entry fee more than once. Set in a deep canyon and only accessible through a narrow winding cleft (or siq) in the rock, Petra is carved from sandstone that takes on deep rusty hues interlaced with bands of grey and yellow. The most famous ruin is the Khazneh, or treasury, whose beautifully carved facade is the first thing you'll see when you enter from the siq. The monastery is equally imposing, and if you climb to the top you'll get stunning views. Other ruins include an 8000-seat amphitheatre and the Temple of the Winged Lions, still in the process of excavation.