Petra (Arabic: البتراء, Al-Batrāʾ), the fabled “rose red city, half as old as time”, is a well known ancient Nabataean city in the south of Jordan. Due to its breathtaking grandeur and fabulous ruins, Petra was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. After Saladin’s conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.
The ruins remained hidden to most of the world until the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812. Burckhardt’s accounts of his travels inspired other Western explorers and historians to discover the ancient city further. The most famous of these was David Roberts, a Scottish artist who created a number of accurate and detailed illustrations of the city in 1839.
The first real excavations of the site were in 1929 after the forming of Trans-Jordan. Since that time, Petra has become by far Jordan’s largest tourist attraction, partially due to the exposure by the Steven Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in 1989. Due to the fantastic engineering accomplishments and the fact of its being well-preserved, the archaeological site was chosen in July 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Petra is the archaeological site and Wadi Musa is the city nearby.
Petra is open to visits 06:00-17:00 in winter, and 06:00-18:00 in summer, daily throughout the year.
What may be one of the most expensive admissions to any archaeological site in the world. The entry ticket to Petra costs 90 JD for one day visitors to Jordan (i.e., those that have arrived in Jordan from some other country, e.g. Israel, on the day of the visit and will be returning there for the night). Tourists that overnight in the country or on a cruise ship pay 50 JD for 1 day, 55 JD for 2 days or 60 JD for 3 days. Bring your passport to prove you entered Jordan at least one day before. If entered the same day, your room key will be asked by the ticket seller. Students have to pay the full price, except those who enroll in a Jordanian university, for whom the admission price drops sharply to 1 JD.
Do not attempt to purchase tickets from dubious scalpers around town! Time permitting, the two-day pass is recommended, as there is much to see and do in Petra. For more than one day, the ticket office can ask for your passport as the ticket has your first name on it.
The Jordan Pass (purchased online before coming to Jordan) gives you access to over 30 sights and attractions in Jordan, including Petra, Wadi Rum Protected Area and Jerash. And the fee on the regular 40 JD visa is waived when entering Jordan, if you stay at least four days in the country. (If you leave before, you will have to pay the 40 JD at the border when exiting.) There are three different types available, depending on the length of your stay in Petra: 70, 75, or 80 JD for one, two, or three days in Petra. Also read Jordan#Jordan Pass.
Children under 12 years can enter the touristic sites for free when accompanied by their parents.