Petra, Jordan – Part VII – The Rose-Red City

Soon after the Treasury you walk out of the Siq to the main city of Petra.

I will be quoting the Petra map given to us at the Visitor Center at the start of the tour to describe each location. Our tour guide only took us as far as the Winged-Lion Temple.  I honestly can’t remember anything he told me after the Treasury.

I will order the main sites/monuments as you see them after the Treasury starting with The Street of Facades and end with Qasr al-Bint.

What the map says about the city of Petra:

“Petra – More Than A Wonder – It is not known precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st century BC, which grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh and spices. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city in the 4th century AD. The earthquake combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city which was ultimately abandoned. By the middle of the 7th century Petra appears to have been deserted and it was lost to all except local Bedouin from the area.

In 1812 a Swiss explorer named Johannes Burckhardt set out to ‘rediscover’ Petra; he dressed as an Arab and convinced his Bedouin guide to take him to the lost city. After this, Petra became increasingly known in the West as a fascinating and beautiful ancient city, and it began attracting visitors and continues to do so today.

Petra is also known as the rose-red city, a name it gets from the wonderful color of the rock from which many of the city’s structures were carved. The Nabataeans buried their dead in intricate tombs that were cut out of the mountain sides and the city also had temples, a theatre, following a Roman annexation and later Byzantine influence, a colonnaded street and churches.

In addition to the magnificent remains of the Nabataean city, human settlement and land use for over 10,000 years can be traced in Petra, where great natural, cultural, archaeological and geological features merge.”

“Petra is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1985, and it was announced as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World during a star-studded event held on July 7th, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal.”

The Street of Facades

“This is the name given to the row of monumental Nabataean tombs carved in the southern cliff face that lies past the Treasury and adjacent to the outer Siq. The facades are crowned with corner crow-steps, pilasters and cavettos. Tomb 67 is remarkable for its upper cave, probably used to store the tools of the workers who built them. Tomb 825 is a Nabataean funerary topped by the side half crow-steps and an Egyptian cavetto.”

Our guide took us inside one of these tombs – the last picture shows what that looked like.

Other tombs along the way.

The Theatre

“Carved into the side of the mountain at the foot of the High Place of Sacrifice, the theatre consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways. Seven stairways ascend the auditorium and it can accommodate 4000 spectators. The back wall of the stage was rebuilt by the Romans. This is the only theatre in the world carved into the rock.”


The Royal Tombs

“This is the name given to the four magnificent facades adjacent to each other on the right side at the end of the main path through the middle of the city. The four structures are:

1. Urn Tomb – This derived its name from the jars that crowns the pediment. It was probably constructed around 70 AD. The tomb is preceded by a deep courtyard with colonnades on two sides. High up in the facade there are three niche that open into small burial chambers. In 446 AD the tomb was adapted to serve as a Byzantine church.

2. Silk Tomb – This tomb is remarkable for the swirls of different colored rock that made up its facade.

3. Corinthian Tomb – The upper part of this tomb is similar to that of the Treasury, but it is severely eroded. The tomb combines various elements of both Nabataean and classical architectural styles.

4. Palace Tomb – This dates to the early 2nd century AD and has a grandiose five-story facade. A dam and water reservoir are located behind the monument drain rainwater to a pool cut to the north of its podium. The monument was probably used for banqueting or funerary. “

I did not walk up there, because it was SO hot and I was starting to feel a bit weak from the sun.

The Nymphaeum

“This is a semi-circular public fountain near the junction of Wadi Musa and Wadi Al-Mataha. Six Nabatean columns decorated the facade and it received water from a tank located on the opposite side of the valley. It is shaded by a wild pistachio tree that is 450 years old.”


The Church

“This church was probably built around the end of the 5th century AD and was destroyed by a fire or probably an earthquake in the following century. Much of the building material such as the capitals, door jambs and the relief were reused from earlier monuments in Petra. The quality of the floor mosaics, which pave both side aisles and are well preserved, attest to the church’s significance.”

The Colonnaded Street

“The street represents an original Nabataean creation, later refurbished during the period of Roman occupation. It would have been one of the principle shopping streets of ancient Petra.”


The Great Temple Complex

“The Great Temple Complex represents one of the major archaeological and architectural monuments of central Petra. It is estimated to cover an area of 7000 square meters, including the north and south of the monumental entryway, or lower temenos (holy enclosure), and an upper temenos – the sacred enclosure for the temple itself. 

Approximately 15m high, the columns plus the entablature they carried would place the original temple height at a minimum of 18m. The style and quality of the temple’s elaborate floral friezes and acanthus-laden limestone capitals suggest that the sanctuary was constructed by the end of the 1st century BC by the Nabataeans who combined their native traditions with the classical spirit.”

This is a view of the Great Temple from the Winged Lion Temple:fullsizeoutput_a6ec


Winged Lion Temple

The map doesn’t highlight, write any information about this site.

View of the Winged Lion Temple from the Great Temple – it is across the path on the slope of the hill.  It was in ruins. fullsizeoutput_a6c2

This is the only picture I have of it:fullsizeoutput_a6f5

Temenos Gate

The map doesn’t highlight, write any information about this gate.fullsizeoutput_a6fefullsizeoutput_a6fd

Qasr al-Bint

“The monument is almost square and is set on a podium. It was the main and most important temple of Petra, dedicated to Dushara. It still stands 23m high today. The temple is approached by a flight of 26 marble steps. The rear of the sanctuary is occupied by three distinct elements; the middle one protects the altar platform that housed the gods and goddesses and the two others had balcony terraces. The temple dates to the first half of the 1st century AD.”

I didn’t linger here because of the heat.  The first picture is a view of Qasr al-Bint from the Winged Lion Temple.

There were more sites to see – The Lion Tricliniom and Ad Deir “The Monestary” beyond Qasr al-Bint but I just couldn’t walk any further because of the heat and there was still the long walk back the way we came. Michael wasn’t with me since the Nymphaeum. He had already walked this tour during his previous visit to Jordan and Petra, so he sat at a small restaurant while I carried on with our tour guide. The tour guide’s 2.5 hour time was up at the Winged Lion Temple.  There he left me, and I carried on on my own.

Here are some fun moments that a happened between the Street of Facades and Qasr al-Bint!

Donkeys, Goats, Horses, Camels, Sellers and People We Met Along the Way


This little fella was relaxing in the cool shade of a cave!

These donkeys were roaming around!

This little donkey was tethered here, out of the sun and heat!fullsizeoutput_a69d

Local riding his donkey!


These kid goats were on the steps of The Great Temple Complex, calling out to their mother who was down on the main trail, near a group of tourists.  You can see the mom in the picture below – top left corner.


There were random herds of goats throughout the ancient city!fullsizeoutput_a6f7


Horses tethered in caves, out of the sun and heat!fullsizeoutput_a6a1fullsizeoutput_a6a2

Local galloping along on his beautiful horse!fullsizeoutput_a6eb


Tomb or Home?

I’m not sure if this is a tomb?  It looks more like a home? I really like the color and the rock formations that look like thin pillars.  I wonder if those thin pillars are carved or natural?



There were MANY locals selling touristy items!  fullsizeoutput_a690fullsizeoutput_a696

The most unique, interesting and authentic booth belonged to Marguerite van Geldermalsen.  She is the author of the book Married to a Bedouin. Marguerite is from New Zealand and many years ago while touring Petra, she met then married one of the Petra Bedouins who actually lived in the ancient city before they were moved out and relocated by the government. Michael met Marguerite during his previous trip to Petra and purchased her book.  Marguerite was absent this day, her son Rami was running the shop.


When I returned to the restaurant to find Michael, he had some new friends!


It was time to start the walk back the way we came! The Siq itself is 1.2 km long and then there is the long walk up to the Visitor Centre!

From the restaurant, Michael and I once again walked by the The Royal Tombs, The Theatre, Street of Facades, into the Siq, past the Treasury, then out of the Siq and up along the dirt road to the Visitors Centre.

I started taking pictures once we left the Treasury because there were fewer people because of the extreme mid afternoon heat.

What an amazing ancient city and what an adventure!!!

S, <3 <3 <3

2 Comments Add yours

  1. mama says:

    Stephanie, you have done an exceptional job of showing us the Rose-Red City. Sounds like the heat was unbearable, yet you persevered!
    Excellent blog… mama xoxoxoxo

    1. Thanks mama!! 🙂 <3

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