This ancient 'rose-red' city was founded more than 2000 years ago by the Nabateans taxing trade caravans. Its exact location was unknown in the West until 1812, when the Swiss explorer J.L. Burckhardt, a convert to Islam, made a short detour to sacrifice a goat and stumbled across the siq, the narrow canyon that leads to Petra - and the rest is history.
Many of our our adventure holidays to Petra follow the same path as Burckhardt, which funnels you through the banded rock walls to emerge at the most beautiful building of all - the Khazneh or Treasury (so-called because the Bedouin believed that the urn crowning the edifice held a cache of gold and jewels) a perfectly proportioned tomb, carved from the towering rock.
There are numerous tombs, temples, public buildings and an impressive rock-hewn amphitheatre as well as the Monastery, a vast structure rivalling even the Treasury. We recommend that you climb to one of the High Places, the mountain-top altars where ritual sacrifices were made; from here there are spectacular views of the mountains, valleys and canyons below.
All our adventure holidays to Jordan include a full day in Petra.
Petra takes its name from the Greek word for 'rock'
Petra was discovered in 1812 by Swiss explorer J.L.Burckhardt, a convert to Islam
Burckhardt stumbled across the siq as he made a short detour to sacrifice a goat
2012 marks the bicentenary of Petra's discovery – many festivities are planned
The Treasury is so-called because the Bedouin believed it contained a cache of gold and jewels
The Treasury (or Khazneh) featured prominently in the Indian Jones and the Last Crusade movie