Petra – Page 2

We conclude our journey through the ancient city of Petra in Jordan by visiting more of the valley and climbing the mountains. The beautiful sights are both natural and man-made, including an impressive mountaintop facade.

(This article was originally published at on 14 October 2008.)

On page one of our tour we journeyed through the Siq gorge to the Treasury and visited the Royal Tombs. In this second part we will climb the mountains, enjoy the views and marvel at a monument that is at least the equal of the Treasury.

The Theatre

The Theatre at Patra, Jordan

The Theatre at Patra, Jordan

The theatre at Petra, like most of the city, was carved from the mountainside and contains enough seating for 8500 people. It was altered by the Romans in the early second century AD but the original structure was a Nabatean creation of the previous century. There is evidence that some older facades were destroyed by its construction.

The High Place of Sacrifice

There are many High Places in the mountains surrounding Petra, but the High Place of Sacrifice is one of the most easily reached. A 40 minute climb up the steps from the Outer Siq leads to an area levelled by the Nabateans. An altar at the highest point was used for religious offerings and possibly animal sacrifices. The views of the centre of the city from here are spectacular.

Protecting the Archaeology

Some experts say that 80% of the city of Petra may still be waiting to be discovered. New finds are excavated by archaeologists every year and in recent years improvements have been made in preservation techniques. A roof has been built over the Byzantine church site to protect the mosaics found there.

Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty at Petra, Jordan

Natural Beauty at Petra, Jordan

Not all of the structures in and around Petra are man-made. Even before the Nabateans settled in the valley nature was carving the rocks. Wind, rain and earthquakes have revealed wonderfully coloured cliffs and outcrops all around.

The Monastery

The Monastery at Petra, Jordan

The Monastery at Petra, Jordan

On page one we saw the facade of the Treasury. At 40 meters tall, and as the first view of Petra, it amazes visitors. But the Monastery is at least as impressive. Its lines are as sharp and it is ten metres taller. Take a closer look at the photograph for a feel of the scale. Yes, there is someone stood in the doorway.

What makes the Monastery so amazing is its location. Situated 220 metres above the centre of Petra, it can take up to a hour to reach on foot. The effort is rewarded by the sight of the facade to the right of the plateau at the top of the steps and also by the views from another High Place nearby. Like the Treasury, the Monastery was named long after the Nabateans and was probably used as a temple.

Much More to See

This brief tour has taken in a few of the sights that Petra has to offer but there is much more to see. The experience changes as the light alters throughout the day brining out new colours. Night visits through the Siq to the Treasury are also available. A visitor who returns to Petra will always find something new to see.

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