Petra off the Beaten Track

The sheer size and beauty of the magnificent ancient city of Petra in Jordan can only be fully appreciated when on location.  

Tomb of the Roman Soldier, Petra
Tomb of the Roman Soldier, Petra

One of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures, the UNESCO listed site of Petra never ceases to impress the visitor, and is a must see on any Jordan holiday.  Petra’s best-known monuments including the ‘Treasury’ (El Khazneh) the ‘Monastery’ (Ed Deir) and the ‘Royal Tombs’ are hugely arresting, but if you are prepared for some more walking and are able to dedicate a second (or even a third!) day to visiting Petra, you will be rewarded twice over again by valleys free of visitors, quiet stone-cut ancient paths, stunning views, and more beautiful tomb facades.

Corinthian Travel’s favourite off the beaten track walk in Petra is up to the High Place of Sacrifice followed by a descent through the valley of Wadi Farasa. The steep ascent up to the High Place from Petra’s stone-cut theatre involves a vigorous thirty-minute workout, but on arrival, you are rewarded by some of the best views over Petra. A path then leads down to the Lion Fountain. A stone altar opposite the fountain suggests that it originally had a religious function. The first complex beyond this is the Garden Tomb, which archaeologists believe was more likely to have been a temple. Below this is the Tomb of the Roman Soldier (one of the finest and most overlooked tombs in Petra) and the Triclinium (which has the only decorated interior in Petra). The track then flattens out, passes the Renaissance Tomb, and leads by the site of ancient rubbish dumps, ending up at the Pharaon Column.

Inside the Triclinium, Petra
Inside the Triclinium, Petra

Another suggestion is to visit the elaborately carved tomb of Sextius Florentius, a one-time Roman governor of Petra, which is located a little to the north of the Royal Tombs. To the west, the mountain of Umm al Biyara towers over Petra and is the location of a further cluster of virtually visitor free Nabataean tombs. A hike from here up along the ancient caravan path of Wadi Thugra will bring you to the curious Snake Monument which in its eroded state more closely resembles the top of an ice-cream cone! Beyond, lies Jebel Haroun and the Tomb of the Prophet Aaron, to which Petra’s re-discoverer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt professed to be making a pilgrimage in 1812 when he had his tantalising glimpse of the stunning ruins.

On a recent visit to Petra, I was assured by my guide that even with two weeks at the site there was was plenty to do and see. This suggestion might be stretching it for most visitors but the point was taken – there is a lot more to ancient Petra than first meets the eye.

Corinthian Travel’s private chauffeur driven Jordan Holidays can all be tailored so that you have more time to explore ancient Petra. Our suggested 8 day / 7 Night Classic Jordan tour includes three nights in Petra and is based at some of Jordan’s best hotels. 

One thought on “Petra off the Beaten Track

  1. Great post! I’ve always wanted to go, and I love hearing about places that are less well-known. It gives a sense of adventure when you can drift off the tourist trail and discover something new. You’ve inspired me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.