Obelisk Tomb and Bab as-Siq Triclinium
A beautiful monument and a perfect example of the artistic intermarriage of styles between East and West. The obelisk is obviously an Egyptian influence; the niche between the obelisks is a Graeco-Roman influence. The triclinium is a chamber with three benches, the purpose of which, being Nabataean, was the celebration of the sacred feasts, which took place every year in honour of the dead.
The ancient main entrance to Petra. An impressive 1200 m long, deep and narrow gorge of stunning natural beauty. The Siq is hemmed in by cliffs soaring up to 80 meters. Suffice itto say that passing through it, one gets to see all the typical Petraean features, bizarre-looking geological formations, colorful rocks, agricultural terraces, waters channels cut into the cliffs, dams, and votive-niches carved into the rock.
Al-Khazneh ( the “Treasury”)
Just when you think you have seen enough dazzling sights in the Siq, emerging from it you suddenly come face to face with Al-Khazneh…the pride and joy of Petra and the most beautiful monument there.
The architectural style of it was quite unique in the ancient world. Main inspiration was Helleistic, Alexandrian Hellenistic, plus that unique encompassing Nabataean artistic touch. On-looking tourists usually feel dwarfed by the huge size of the façade (30 m wide and 43 m high). It is truly breathtaking, so much so that no amount of descriptive prose does it justice, it is better-experienced first-hand. It was carved in the 1 st century BC as a tomb of an important Nabataean king; some scholars believe it was later used as a temple. The elaborately carved façade represents the Nabataean engineering genius.
High place of Sacrifice
Accessible after a hard but enjoyable mountain climb during which the tourists climb up flights of steps cut into the rock. Once you have reached the top, you will be rewarded with the spectacular view of Petra down below. The High Place, which is well reserved, was the venue for important religious ceremonies honoring Nabataean gods. It was perhaps also used for funeral rites.
Street of Facades and the Theatre
Past Al-Khazneh and the adjacent Outer Siq, we come to the Street of Faces, rows of Nabataean tombs with intricate carvings.
The theatre looks Roman but was executed by the Nabataeans in the 1 st century AD, as the shadow of Roman influence hung over the Near East. It is carved into solid rock except towards the front on either side, where part of it was built freestanding. Initially it could seat 3000 people, but was later extended to finally hold about 7000.
The impressive Royal Tombs, before erosion took its toll on them, once rivaled Al-Khazneh in beauty and grandeur, carved to house the tombs of Nabataean dignitaries.
The largest of the Royal Tombs, its immense courtyard and main chamber, 17 X18.9 m in size, are imposing. Believed to have been carved around 70 AD, it was altered in the mid-fifth century as it was reconsecrated to serve as a Byzantine church. Above the doorway are three chambers. A stone presumed to be depiction of the man buried inside blocks the central chamber.
An exquisite carved monument has the appearance of a palace, hence the name. Badly eroded yet it still looks magnificent, composed of three levels, richly decorated with columns and pillars.
Sextius Florentinus Tomb
The Latin inscription over the doorway makes it the only tomb in Petra we know for sure who it was built for. Sextius was the Roman governor of the province of Arabia and, as the inscription tells us, wished to be buried in Petra. His elaborate tomb was carved around 126-130 AD
A beautiful colonnaded street, which led through the city centre, flanked by temples, public buildings and shops. A nymphaeum once adorned the street, the marble pavement still visible today.
Perhaps the words of Dean Burgon’s famous poem : ‘Match me such a marvel save in Eatern clime/ A rose-red city half as old as time…” reflect some truth about Petra. Some archaeologists have ranked ancient Petra as the eight wonder of the ancient world- a truly justifiable claim. Petra is unique in every respect, having something to offer to the historian, anthropologist, archaeologist, geologist, architect and the naturalist, all of whom regularly come to Petra to conducts their studies and be in touch with the ancient past. You do not have to be a specialist in any field though to appreciate Petra because, once inside of it, you will be quickly awe-struck and you will want to know the how, why and where about it.
This remote dead city is one of the great archaeological treasures in the world, undoubtedly; it is the most important famous attraction of Jordan. Much of Petra’s appeal comes from its awesome, multicolored sandstone high mountains; it is a secluded site of steep rocky slopes, towering craggy mountain tops and high cliffs, into which most of the celebrated tombs, facades, theatres, and stairways are carved…Nature and architecture concur into conferring a mythical aura to the site.
Most people, when asked, will tell you that Petra is an ancient city carved into solid rock by the Nabataeans, whose capital it became. This is not good enough. To fully appreciate the site we must know something about its builders.
Probably the main temple of the Nabataean capital, it is the only freestanding building in Petra to have survived centuries of earthquakes and floods. Its solid-looking silhouette dominates a large paved holy precinct (Greek:temenos), which was open to common worshippers, while the temple itself and the altar in front of it were the realm of the priests.
Ad-Deir (the “Monastery”)
A flight of 800 stairs cut into the rock takes you up the mountain of Ad-Deir, marvelous mountain scenes along the way up. And when you reach the top you will encounter Petra’s second most famed attraction…Ad-Deir. Huge in size yet beautifully awesome. The overall design resembles that of the Khazneh, but the architectural embellishment is simplified. Either tomb, temple or both- the Deir used to be an important pilgrimage site the way up the mountain serving as processional route and the open area in front of the monument as gathering place. Later, in Byzantine time, it was probably used as a church.