Petra, the Nabatean city carved in stone, frozen in time for almost two thousand years before being rediscovered. In recent times, it has captured the imagination of people around the world, starred in movies, and now, been ticked off my bucket list. Read on to find out how you can spend 2 amazing days in the lost city of Petra.
After 2 hours, the bus arrived in Wadi Musa, the town just beside Petra. There are lots of accommodation options for a range of budgets. The ones nearer to the entrance to Petra cost more, are some distance from the bus station, but are super convenient for getting into Petra. On the other hand, those higher up on Wadi Musa, nearer to where the bus ends, are cheaper and are surrounded by more food and convenience options, but are further from the entrance.
I found the guesthouse (My Home Petra) I booked not far away and settled in. The owner/ manager, Issam, isn’t one of those flamboyant hosts, but he sure knows how to make you feel at home. Perfectly what I need. I absolutely enjoyed my stay at Wadi Musa thanks to him. He generously provides tips, plans, and someone to talk to to, whichever you may need. Just after sunset, I took a walk out nearby, and caught this view over the town of Wadi Musa.
As you pass the visitor center, hordes or horsemen will approach asking if you require assistance to the Treasury or beyond. Nothing unexpected for a tourist spot as this, and some consolation should you be unable to complete the walk. I politely refused and carried on, taking pictures that I thought would feel perfectly right out of a Star Wars movie. Along the way before the Siq, you’ll be treated to appetisers of ruins further inside. Here, among the first monuments you’d come across, the Obelisk Tomb (most of the standing structures in Petra are tombs). The carved facade and banquet hall below are still clearly visible after almost 2000 years. Further down the trail, it’s time for the Siq.
Huge groups of tourists descend upon Petra in waves, filling the narrow gorge with life (and noise). In between groups, silence blanket the floors of the Siq with a dream like atmosphere, occasionally shattered (or enhanced) by the galloping of horses echoing through. Finally, one last surprise (maybe not that much of a surprise) for the traveler still pressing on – the Treasury (Al Khazna) peering out as the light at the end of the tunnel. Words cannot adequately describe the awe that surged through me, having pictured this for a long long time, seeing it in appear in so many places and finally, witnessing this incredible sight in real life.
Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most crowded spots, being where everyone has to get through, and what everyone came for. Arrive early, share the space with few others, and press on for more amazing sights. You’ve just arrived in Petra. The Treasury (Al Khazneh/ Al Khazna), featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is almost 40m tall and carved into sandstone almost 2000 years ago. Contrary to its name though, this monument was constructed as a tomb. Its name came from a myth that the urn high on the facade contains treasure, futile bullet holes on the urn confirming that it is indeed a myth. Beyond the Treasury, you’ll arrive at the Street of Facades, lined with tombs towering along the cliff face. These, too, were carved directly into the rock almost 2000 years ago.
From the end of the Main Trail, the Ad-Deir (Monastery) Trail winds between rocks, rising with the mountains, emerging at the Monastery (Ad-Deir), and shortly beyond, you’ll be rewarded with a view over the desert mountains, before having to turn back all the way to the Main Trail again. Starring in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Monastery (Al Deir) is one of the largest monuments in Petra (larger than the Treasury). If you follow the trail across the facade of the Monastery a couple of hundred meters down, you’d find panoramic view points over the desert mountains. Some of the viewing points are occupied by stalls requesting that you buy a drink from them, but there are a couple of spots free of such sales tactics too. Take a shade under the rocks and enjoy the view.