How to Tackle the Ruins of Petra, Jordan


The ruins of Petra are Jordan’s main event. The ruins encompass an Ancient City once found at this intersection of trading. Unlike other cites, the ruins of Petra are quite spread out and require a lot of walking in order to get a full experience at Petra. Read on to see how we tackled this wonderful Ancient City, and how we best used our time at the site.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Jordan, Israel and France during the end of the pandemic. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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How to Tackle the Ruins of Petra, Jordan

During our visit throughout Jordan, we were continually amazed at the number of attractions that the country had to offer. One of the star attractions are the Ruins of Petra. The Ruins of Petra were voted to be one of the New Wonders of the World by popular vote.

Why Visit Petra?

The Ruins of Petra are the primary tourist attraction in Jordan. This is the “main event” and likely the tourist attraction that you are going to travel to Jordan to see.

The sights of Petra are quite spread out. Although there are other entrances designed to give you closer access to other sites, your day will generally start from the Wadi Musa Entrance by the Petra Visitor Centre, taking you through canyon ways of The Siq over to the Treasury.

Getting to Petra, Jordan:

We were anchored in Petra, Jordan at the Petra Marriott Hotel. We had made efforts to get in an early start to our visit to Petra. After getting up at 6:10 AM, we went for an early breakfast at 6:30 AM. We were finished breakfast and back up into the room for 7:10 AM.

The Petra Marriott Hotel ran a complimentary shuttle three times a day. We were out on the 7:45 AM shuttle that ran from the Petra Marriott Hotel to the Wadi Musa Petra Entrance.

We debated self driving our rental car down to the Ruins of Petra. However, the parking lot at Petra is limited to about 150 cars. It wasn’t clear whether that lot would be full early in the morning. In the end, we would leave the car at the hotel, but later self drive down to Petra by Night.

Entering Petra:

We found ourselves at the Entrance of Petra at about 8 AM. We had to show our Jordan Pass for Petra as our ticket at the ticket office. After we had received our ticket, we queued up for the entrance gate where our passport photo ID was physically checked. This sequence held up the line of a little bit.

After being granted admission, we had a one Hour Walk downhill to the Treasury. It was natural to want to get around the many tour groups that were starting out for the day. In reality, they all found a spot to stop to talk somewhere along the way. We bypass the offers of the horse rides down to the entrance way of The Siq.

We eventually came to our first ruin; the Bab Al Siq.

Throughout our walk down, we navigated through several tour groups stopping along the way to give general talks about the history behind Petra. While we were initially trying to “beat the crowds”, it became pretty evident after a while that tour groups would take care of themselves. Walking as a brisk pace, you’ll likely make it there before all the tour groups anyway.

Wandering Down The Siq:

On arrival to The Siq, this was the start of where the magic happened. The Siq is the canyon at the entrance of the ruins at Petra. The Siq is the downhill canyon leading into the ruins of Petra. The Siq is approximately 1.2 kilometres walk and the canyon walls are about two hundred meters high on each side.

It was an absolutely gorgeous walk through The Siq. It was beautiful in the day and with the sun peeking through the high canyon walls. The contrast between the walls and the sky and the canyon walls was naturally beautiful and picturesque.

At certain spots along The Siq, you could see the remains of the water ways that were used to carry water down to Petra. These waterways were embedded in the walls of the canyons and were carved to allow for water to flow.

Seeing the Treasury:

There is nothing like seeing the Treasury for the first time. Seeing The Treasury peeking through the corners of the passageways of The Siq is a really special travel experience.

Rounding the corner into the main walkway, the sights of the Treasury come into focus. The Hellenic building is more impressive in person and it is made even cooler with camels parked out front.

The Treasury was carved out of sandstone to serve as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III between 100 BCE – 200 CE. The name of the Treasury was derived from the an Egyptian Pharaoh who hid their treasure while the Egyptian’s pursued the Israelites. It is a truly impressive structure and an easy place to fall in love with.

Our first arrival to the Treasury was right before sun. It was busy but not packed. It was a good view and nice to just take in the scene. The crossroads of the Treasury led to it being a great people watching place.

Climbing the Royal Tombs:

After the Treasury, we took a hard right and started climbing the stairs and trails that led to the Royal Tombs. The Royal Tombs were left over by the Romans and offered a variety of facades that were in varying condition.

The assorted Royal Tombs offered many places to explore. With each one had a different personality and feature, you could spend a whole morning exploring through each one. Another added bonus were that the Royal Tombs were in shade throughout the morning, making this a cooler place to spend the time during the morning.

There were quite a few local vendors selling all sorts of souvenirs that seemed appropriate for the area.

It was pretty neat to clamber all over this region. You were pretty much unfettered and had free access to all of the features of the Royal Tombs.

Then wandered down through street of facades and over ot the royal tombs trail. Inspected tombs. Took high road. Nice to get up close to them plus in the shade for the morning.

From the Royal Tombs, we had a great view over to the street of facades. The sun was peeking through the skies, which made for a terrific view over to these archeological sites.

We also had a view of the Roman Theatre. It was impressively set against a back drop of rocks.

Walking the Colonnaded Street:

We left the Royal Tombs by climbing down the steps. We headed down towards the colonnaded street. The colonnaded street consists of the sole remainder of the roman columns of Petra.

The Colonnaded Street was the centre of the Ancient City of Petra and was built around 106 CE. It follows the standard Roman pattern of east – west decumanus without the normal cardo maximus (north south) axis.

The Great Temple:

We stopped through the Great Temple. It was one of the largest roman ruins of Petra aside from the magnificent theatre.

The Great Temple was a major Nabatean temple of the first century BCE. It’s a really impressive ruin, and you’ll get the opportunity to explore it throughly as it’s mostly deserted.

Qasar al Bint:

We came to the last attraction of the day at Qasar al Bint. Qasar al Bint is one of the last standing free structures in the Ancient City of Petra. It was one of the most important structures in Petra. It was surely looking impressive in the full sun.

After taking in the sights, we enjoyed lunch at the nearby Nabeen Restaurant,. We enjoyed a chicken shawrma sandwich and replenished with a Gatorade.

We had a slow walk back with a good look at the great temple and the church. It was a very warm walk back now that sun in full steam at the peak of the day.

Treasury Climb:

Now that the initial crowds had disappeared from the Treasury, we took a closer look at this magnificent ruin. We paid a local guide 10 JOD for 2 of us to climb to the first lookout. While it’s not mandatory to pay a guide, the locals are pretty insistent on guarding the stairs.

However, we did get a mixed blessing in that the guide took lots of photos of us with all the right angles that would have taken us minutes to figure out on our own. It was actually among my favourite views of the day; especially after having come all this way.

The Treasury is such a magical sight. It’s pretty special to visit and you’ll leave with its Hellenic columns seared into your mind forever more.

Departing Back through the Siq:

After our climb through the Treasury view points, we wandered back up towards Wadi Musa entrance. The sun’s angled had changed from the morning, and we had a beautiful walk back. The hill is slightly sloping upwards, so it was a little slower on the walk out.

We ended up killing off a little time with a celebratory drink at the Movenpick Petra bar, before our 4 PM shuttle ride back to the Petra Marriott Hotel.

My Thoughts on Petra:

The ruins of Petra are in that category of world class tourist attractions that blow your mind. The sheer number of ruins concentrated within this site rival the worlds finest tourist attractions. Unlike Machu Picchu – Peru, the ruins at Petra, Jordan were pretty spread out and needed time and effort to explore. Fortunately, those on a tight schedule can get through many of them within a day, with lots left over for any future trip.

If you been to Petra – Jordan, did you find the journey extra special ?

2 Comments on “How to Tackle the Ruins of Petra, Jordan

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