The ruins of the Qasr al-Bint temple in Petra.

© Wirestock/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Qasr Al Bint

The Ancient City

One of the few free-standing structures in Petra, Qasr Al Bint was built in around 30 BCE by the Nabataeans. It was later adapted to the cult of Roman emperors and destroyed around the 3rd century CE. Despite the name given to it by the local Bedouin – Castle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter – the temple was originally built as a dedication to Nabataean gods and was one of the most important temples in Petra.

The temple once stood 23m high and its features included marble staircases, imposing columns, a raised platform for worship, and ornate plaster and stone reliefs – examples of which are housed in the display at the Petra Visitor Centre. The central ‘holy of holies’, known as an adyton, would have housed an image of the deities. The sacrificial altar in front, once overlaid with marble, indicates that it was probably the main place of worship in the Nabataean city and its location at street level suggests that the whole precinct (and not just the temple interior) was considered sacred.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Ancient City attractions

1. Altar

0.02 MILES

The sacrificial altar in front of the Qasr Al Bint was once overlaid with marble, indicating that it was probably the main place of worship in the…

2. Temenos

0.05 MILES

The temenos was the sacred courtyard of the Qasr Al Bint and separated the commercial area of the city from the sacred area of the temple.

3. Basin Area

0.07 MILES

The Basin is an area just beyond Qasr Al Bint where the main wadi widens at the bottom of the valley. The area, which houses the two restaurants (Basin…

4. Unfinished Tomb

0.07 MILES

Offers a rare glimpse of the way the Nabataeans constructed their rock tombs, starting at the top on a platform of scaffolding and working their way down.

5. Al Habis

0.08 MILES

Beyond Qasr Al Bint is the small hill of Al Habis (the Prison). From the Nabataean Tent Restaurant, steps lead up the hill past a disused museum around…

6. Temenos Gateway

0.08 MILES

Built in the 2nd century AD, the gateway originally had huge wooden doors and side towers. It marked the entrance to the temenos (sacred courtyard) of the…

7. Columbarium

0.09 MILES

The multiple niches of the the enigmatic Columbarium remain a mystery; some suppose they housed votive images or urns, others say this was a dovecote for…