As one of the most famous archeological sites in the world, Petra features rust-colored hills, ancient tombs and temples and ancient Nabataean architecture dating back to the time when Petra was the Nabataean capital and a primary trading city along the famous Silk Road.
The city of Petra, capital of the Nabataean Arabs, is located 240 km south of the capital, Amman, and 120 km north of the red sea town of Aqaba. My first visit to Petra was during the day and I still remember being mesmerized walking amidst rugged rocks with impressive sandstone patterns embedded in the rock walls.
More recently I explored Petra by night and was as enchanted by the experience as the first time. The entrance to get to the treasury area is through a narrow opening called the Siq.
As you walk almost 1.2km between the cliffs, a remarkable sight unfolds, almost as a finale with temples, tombs and dwellings carved out of the solid, rose-hued stone. The sights are breathtaking and I vividly recall coming face to face with the grandeur of Al-Khazneh or the Treasury, which is a massive royal tomb cut out of the sandstone mountain featuring Roman-styled architecture.
There is also an amphitheater recreated from solid rock. At night, the Treasury, the Roman Theater, the Temple of the Winged Lion and numerous other ancient monuments create a magical ambience, particularly the spectacle of light showcasing Bedouin drama and music with a backdrop of 1,000 candles.
Walking down from the Treasury into the Outer Siq, you come across over 40 tombs known collectively as the Street of Facades and then reach the Theatre. The set of steps nearby ascend to the High Place of Sacrifice, a hilltop altar.
Across the Theatre, another set of steps lead to a fine set of Royal Tombs that are worth a visit as they illustrate some of the best carving in Petra and provide access to another of the city’s mystic high places.
Returning to the Theatre, another path takes you to the elevated Great Temple and the Temple of the Winged Lions. Make a point to see the Nabataean temple known locally as Qasr al-Bint and try the local fare at the nearby restaurants.
Every part of Petra is spectacular with visits to the Nabataean Museum, the winding path to one of Petra’s most beloved monuments, the Monastery, the Lion Tomb or the magnificent rock formations of Petra. As one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Petra has become a tourist destination for many leaders and celebrities around the world.
Turkish Airlines recently signed a partnership agreement with the Petra Development and Tourism Authority to encourage more regional visitors to travel to Jordan via Turkey and see the best of both countries. On visiting Petra, Turkish Airlines passengers receive a discount on entry tickets into Jordan’s most unique heritage site by submitting their boarding passes.
What attracted me about the visit was the fact that I was able to stop in Istanbul on the way to Aqaba, enjoy the seaside and boating experience in Aqaba, take a day trip into Wadi Rum desert for lunch with the Bedouins and was able explore Petra the next day. Turkish Airlines flies 14 times weekly to Amman and 4 times weekly to Aqaba via Istanbul so there are plenty of options to visit multiple cities during your next break.