The Ancient City
The ancient Nabataean city of Petra, with its myriad tombs scooped out of the sandstone cliffs, is not just the leading highlight of a country blessed with more than its fair share of top sights: it's a world wonder. It lay forgotten for centuries, known only to the Bedouin who made it their home, until Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt happened upon it in 1812. Built partly in honour of the dead, the Petra necropolis retains much of its sense of mystery thanks to its inaccessible location in the heart of a wind-eroded landscape. Reached via the Siq, a narrow rift in the land whose cliffs cast long shadows across the once-sacred way, the path suddenly slithers into sunlight in front of the Treasury – a spectacle that cannot fail to impress. Add to this the cheerfulness of the Bedouin, and it's easy to see what makes a visit to Petra a must.