The great civilisations of the past have left a legacy of constructions that still stand out and inspire. Built without the wonders of 20th-century technology, many are also monumental feats of engineering; others offer such grace and beauty, that they’ll literally take your breath away.
Travel bucket list idea:
This magnificent UNESCO World Heritage-listed archaeological site is Jordan’s main attraction. Dating from the 4th century BC, Petra was a Nabataean city of spectacular edifices carved into the cliff faces of the surrounding mountains and gorges.
While Petra’s strategic location was exploited by the Romans and Crusaders, the city was subsequently abandoned and remained a secret to everyone except the Nabataeans until it was ‘rediscovered’ in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
You can’t miss it really – Petra’s most famous structure, the so-called ‘Pharoah’s Treasury’ (Al Khazneh), is a 45m-high temple with an ornate, Greek-style facade. Its visual impact is even more jaw-dropping by virtue of stumbling upon it after wandering down the narrow access canyon known as Al Siq.
Getting there & doing it
Petra can be visited independently, with a private guide or on a tour. The site is huge so if you’ve limited time, a guide is invaluable to show you the main sites and explain their meaning.
For a fantastically authentic and rather rustic experience, stay at the Beidha campsite. Run by the local Ammarin tribe, it’s 10km north of Petra and 200m from Little Petra.
When to do it
The site is open all year round, seven days a week, although the visitor centre is closed Fridays. Tickets are sold from sunrise until sunset.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit – crowds are thinner, the temperature is cooler and the rocks take on an ethereal golden hue.
Winter is cold (snow is possible) and in summer it’s too hot to be visiting a site where you’ll spend most of your time outdoors.
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