Ermak Travel Guide


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Petra or Rekem as is it was known to the ancients is a former capital of the Nabateaeans who rules these lands in the third century BC. It is the pearl of Jordan that is located just one kilometer from the city of Eilat. Today about half a million tourists visit Petra annually.



Location: Wadi Musa


Phone: +962 3 215 6020



Oct-Apr: 6:30 am - 5 pm

May-Sep: 6am - 5:30 pm

These are ticket sales hours. Some people stay long after sunset.





History of Petra


Map of PetraPetra was establishing in an artificial oasis on a site of crossroads of the trade routes in the 8th century BC. Their strategic location made this city into a prosperous settlement. Flash floods that are quiet common in the area were controlled by a series of dams, cisterns water channel that diverted the water from the human settlement. During dry season water used by the residents of Petra.


Petra  Petra  Petra  Petra  Petra  Petra  Petra

Opening of new sea trade routes meant that land routes were largely unnecessary. Petra lost much of its business and its residents began to flee the area. After its abandonment Petra lay unvisited for a millennia until it was not rediscovered in 1812 Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It became famous after appearance of Treasury in the movie "Indiana Jones and the last Crusade".


A narrow canyon or the Siq leads to a complex of ancient buildings. Its walls reach a height of 200 meters (650 feet) and length of 1.5 km that ends at Al Khazneh (The Treasury). It served the main entrance to the ancient city. In the entrance to Siq bears remains of stone gates. It was built by the Ancient Roman legions that could shut the doors and protect the whole settlement with minimal forces.


The best time to visit Petra is in the early hours of the day. During the day temperatures here can easily reach 100 F (40 C). A temperature between March and May is usually most comfortable ranging between 70- 85 F (18- 25 C).





Al Khazneh (The Treasury) of Petra

The Khazneh (The Treasury) of Petra   Indiana Jones The Khazneh (The Treasury) of Petra

The Khazneh of Petra is one of the most distinct features of the settlement. It was carved into red sandstone in the 2nd century AD as a Temple of Isis (Egyptian goddess of fertility). Arabs who later settled around this area called it "Al Khazneh" believing that it kept treasures of the Egyptian pharaohs. However Khazneh was constructed as a temple of a Romanized Egyptian deity at the time when Roman Emperor Hadrian visited Syrian province. This tomb is the most famous out of 800 tombs on a site, partially due to the fact that its facade was featured in one of the Indiana Jones movies.


Petra Amphitheatre

Petra Amphitheatre

Petra was not a city of the dead. In addition to tombs and temples in the canyons, Petra had whole neighborhoods of private and public buildings. One of the most prominent such public buildings was Greco- Roman Amphitheatre carved in the surrounding cliffs. Original structure was carved by the Nabataeans before the arrival of Romans. Original smaller structure was used for religious purposes. Once the Tenth Roman Legion arrived, they turned small theater into a magnificent amphitheater. Petra Amphitheatre was able to seat over 8,000 spectators during its heyday. This structure was used for music contests, performances and religious rituals.


Obelisk Tomb (Petra)

Obelisk Tomb (Petra)

Obelisk Tomb was constructed in the first century AD in Petra. It is an elaborate two storey tomb carved from the solid rock. Its facade is an elaborate mixture of Egyptian, Greek, Indian and Nabataean architectural styles. Obelisk Tomb is towered by four obelisks and hence it got its name. Facade was badly damaged by flash floods and winds. But it still bears inscriptions that state that Obelisk Tomb was constructed for Abdmank and his children. Additionally you can see impressive rock carvings depicting mythical animals. In addition to the main burial chamber another smaller chamber is located underneath obelisks. It was added to hold sacred feasts in honor of the dead. It is lined by three benches for visitors that included relatives and friends of the deceased.

Corinthian Tomb (Petra)

The Corinthian Tomb (Petra)

Corinthian Tomb (on the right on the picture) was constructed around 40 AD in Petra. Structure gets its name from Corinthian style of the columns at the facade at its entrance. It was built in the center of a settlement opposite the Petra Amphitheatre. The Corinthian Tomb is part of complex of the Royal tombs that was used to bury important and prominent members of the society. The Corinthian Tomb is closed to the public due to renovation program inside. Still you can admire the beauty of the external facade.


Palace Tomb (Petra)

Palace Tomb (Petra)

Palace Tomb is magnificent burial situated just to the left of the Corinthian Tomb. It was also constructed around 40 AD at the foot of mount Al- Khabta. Palace Tomb was carved into a cliff to bury a Petra official, but its appearance is similar to the Roman palaces and hence it got its name.

Palace Tomb has three stories with the upper levels added by several layers of stone. The main chamber at the entrance of the Palace Tomb was used to celebrate religious holidays and honor memory of the dead. Unfortunately inner rooms of the tomb is closed to the public due to renovation projects.

You can take a short break at the local coffee place that offers hot and cold drinks. It is one of few opportunities in Petra Archeological site to get hydrated so you should use it.


The Silk Tomb (Petra)

The Silk Tomb (Petra)

The Silk Tomb just like other Royal Tombs from the complex date to the first half of the first century AD. It was used to burry some of the most prominent leaders of Petra. It is hard to say the reason for such a name, but some speculated that Silk Tomb gets its name from majestic multi- colored layers of rock that appear like a silk drapery over a tomb.

The internal chamber of the Silk Tomb covers an area of 90 square meters. It was used to hold various religious rituals to honor the dead and multiple gods. It is open to the public unlike other Royal Tombs.







Bedouin Market at Petra


Bedouin Market at Petra is situated among picturesque ancient buildings. Bedouins lived here since the time of Abraham so the government doesn't prevent them moving around. They settled in Petra and opened their own souvenir store. Most of the items come from Petra itself or surrounding lands. These historic artifacts include ancient coins, pottery, amphora, carpets as well as hand made souvenirs made of stone and wood. Some of these "historic" items are obvious forgeries, but sometimes you can find a true jewel of historic and archeological value.

Market in the Middle East is a unique thing. People here are loud, pushy and sometimes obnoxious. They know just couple of words in English, but they use them interchangeably non- stop. If you don't want to buy anything don't even try starting a conversation with them. You will leave Petra with all their stuff and I mean all of their stuff. If you don't want to see that taking place simply say "thank you" or in Arabic "la'a shukran" ("no, thank you") and walk away. If you do want to buy a souvenir here you are for a linguistic adventure. Whatever price they give you can easily get half or even quarter of the original price. Negotiation is just part of the culture and business etiquette. Whine, complain, cry, lie. Do whatever you want and no one will think you are cheap or poor. It is is part of negotiation process.


Tomb Aneisho (Petra)

Tomb Aneisho (Petra)

Tomb Aneisho is one of many burial tombs in Petra. It was dug in the sandstone around 50 AD. The monument is located on a hill, so immediately it attracts attention of tourists and visitors.  The tomb was apparently intended for prince Aneisho, brother of Queen Nabataean Shagilat. Aneisho Tomb has a beautiful double eaves with carved facade that carries features of Greek, Egyptian and Nabataean architectural styles. The interior chambers of the Aneisho Tomb consists of two level rooms with a total area of over 400 square meters. The central room was equipped with a massive table and two benches on both sides. Ancient Nabataean priests held various rituals in this room to commemorate memory of dead royalty.


Urn Tomb (Petra)


Urn Tomb is one of many unique buildings in Petra. Urn Tomb is part of so- called Royal Tombs that were built for kings, officials and rich traders that once lived here. It got its name from the urn, which is crowned with a central pediment. It was carved from a cliff on a high hill and today it dominates among neighboring facades. You can get to the top of the Urn Tomb by climbing numerous steep stairs.

Urn Tomb was presumably constructed for the king Malchus who died in Petra in 70 AD. Despite years of natural elements Urn Tomb managed to survive and keep much of its original appearance. The tomb stands on an open platform. Along the North terrace there are several pairs of columns. The inner chamber is quite impressive with an area of about 400 square meters. In 477 Urn Tomb was converted into a Christian church, as it is evidenced by the record of consecration on the back wall of the main hall.


Al Deir Monastery (Petra)

Petra Al Deir Monastery

Al Deir Monastery is one of the unique buildings in Petra that was carved into cliffs over 2000 years ago. Its name is derived from carvings of several crosses that date to later Christian Byzantine period. Original purpose of Al Deir Monastery was a royal tomb of the king Obodas I, who ruled over Petra in the 1st century AD. The facade of the Al Deir measures at 80 meters high with internal burial chambers covering an area of 250 square meters. Facade of the Al Deir Monastery is decorated with pediments and columns cut from red sandstone. The interior of the Al Deir consists of a Central Hall with a double staircase that leads to the burial niche.

On the left side of the entrance to the Al Deir Monastery you can see a steep path that leads to the upper tier of building. Few tourists that come to Petra dare to climb these stairs, yet local Arab children have no problem with playing here.




Byzantine Church (Petra)

Byzantine Church (Petra)

Byzantine Christian Church was built around 450 AD on a site of older Ancient Roman building. It was a three nave basilica with a total area of about 400 square meters. Its floor was covered with well preserved mosaics that depicts both humans and animals. Cruciform shaped font was surrounded by four columns that probably supported the dome. Around 600 AD Byzantine church suffered a major fire. It was probably abandoned since then due to lack of funds and constant raids from the East. Ruins of the Byzantine Church were later damaged by a series of earthquakes. It was discovered and excavated in 1992. Archeologists discovered 152 papyrus scrolls in various states of preservation. Byzantine church is a unique historical monument of significant proportions.


Djinn Blocks (Petra)

Djinn Blocks are massive stone blocks carved from solid sandstone. They have square shapes with their walls covered by intricate carvings. It is not known the purpose or time period when they were made. It is quiet probable that these were intended as tombs for rich and influential citizens of Petra. However the work was cut short and the project was simply abandoned. Other suggested that Djinn Blocks were symbols or representations of the god Dushara that is commonly represented as a block of stone. Djinn Blocks is a name that was given by the later Arab settlers. Djinn is a spirit or a ghost that can live in various objects including lamps or in this case geologic formations. It is probably due to these superstitions Djinn Blocks were not damaged by subsequent generations of people that lived here.

High Place of Sacrifice (Petra)


High Place of Sacrifice was carved from the red sandstone by the Nabataeans, residents of Petra. It is located high above the rest of the city seats on the bottom of the canyon. High Place of Sacrifice has a central altar that was used to sacrifice animals to appease multiple pagan gods. Sacrificial triumphant ceremonies were were complicated and complex. Priests would start at the bottom of the canyon and slowly moved up an elaborate path. It is marked by several obelisks that were devoted to two deities: Dashare, god of force, and another was al- Uzza, goddess of water and fertility. Priests, singers, helpers and other people made their way to the top of the platform high above Petra. Here they killed animals. There have speculations about human sacrifices and while it is plausible no evidence were found to prove this point.




















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