Wadi Musa, the town where the Petra National Monument is located is named after Moses, the famous Biblical Figure who had made a stop here in Wadi Musa and is believed to struck a rock and hence forth, spring water started gushing and hence, the spring well in Wadi Musa, located along the highway going to Petra is now named Ain Musa (Moses Well). Most Tour Buses have a whistle stop here at Ain Musa which is located at the right side of the highway (along a white multi mini domed structure) and you can take pictures and videos of the spring well and they claim that you can even drink the water here as it is very clean (verified by my waterproof olympus tough camera which I put at the water in the well, see my wadi musa videos) and the spring water even taste sweet!
Inside the rectangular room is the large rock from which the water gushed forth thousands of years ago. Today bricks have been built around it, and around most of the spring, allowing easier access to the water. Walking across the brick floor, you can watch the water flow through the center of the room and out the building. In the middle of the room is an eight foot wide well where you can dip into the spring and drink the water.
even the Nabateans built water channels from this well which goes to Petra Complex itself (you will see the water wells along the Siq)
Moses Well (Ain Musa) is open everyday 24/7
Another one of the Royal Tombs, the Corinthian (which in not in a great shape, unfortunately) is a blend of the Nabataean and Hellenic, with the lower level being in typical local style, and the columns bearing typical Corinthian decorations. Both Corinthian Tomb and Silk Tomb are in the quieter part of Petra, and much less likely to be overrun with tourists.
This tomb, close to Qasr al-Bint, is interesting not as much because of its architecture, but because of the very fact that it's unfinished – it shows you the Nabataean method of tomb-building, working from top to bottom, as opposed to bottom to top
One of the Royal Tombs, the Silk Tomb – not far from the Theatre - is most famous of the swirls of colour in the rock, with white, pink, yellow and red all over it. While it is not as grand as some of the others, it's excellent for photographers.
Petra have been the location for many movies, most famous is in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie. However, one of my favourite music clips is the one by the Leeds band The Sisters of Mercy with their Dominion video clip from the late 80's which was filmed here in Petra. It is a great one :)
Check my link attached here.
About half an hour away by car is what I was told was worth seeing was also 'Little Petra'. It was not on my map and I didnt really know where it was but I had decided to take the back road when heading north - which actually went past the whole Petra site with even more tombs in amongst the rocks seen from the road.
Thankfully I came across a sign directing that Little Petra was somewhere ahead.
There were information signs around the area as well - pointing out a Nabatean cistern and dam - so that means ancient, and ingenious for its time - and then arrving at the parking area, with a few souvenir shops and excellent!! public toilets
- there were information signs outside a couple of tombs and pointing out the house that has the last remaining site of Nabatean art to be found. (that was really exciting as thats talking about art from 1 AD on the ceiling of a family's room still being visible!!)
While travelling along the King’s Highway you’ll be able to make a stop in King’s Way Rest House and Bazaar. Nothing particular, but wonderful landscapes, shopping and a chance to drink a cup of Jordan coffee. We stopped there twice on our way to and back Petra.
You can watch my 4 min 33 sec HD Video Jordan Petra part 8 out of my Youtube channel.
You can watch my high resolution photo of Petra on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 30° 2' 43.86" N 35° 27' 1.33" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio King’s Way Rest House and Bazaar.
King’s Highway is a most ancient route in Jordan. The King's Highway winds its way from Amman to Aqaba via Petra. First mentioned by name in the Bible, the King's Highway was the route that Moses wished to follow as he led his people north through the land of Edom, which is in southern Jordan.
Lining both sides of this 335 kilometer thoroughfare is a rich chain of archaeological sites. We droved 135 out of its way and
From Petra the King's Highway descends gradually past Wadi Rum and its moonscape-like natural wonders, before reaching the warm resort of Aqaba.
You can watch my high resolution photo of Petra on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 30° 2' 44.01" N 35° 27' 1.23" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio King's Highway.
Wadi Rum is another well-known tourist attraction on the south of Jordan. It is also known as the Valley of the Moon. It is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite at 60 km to the east of Aqaba. It is the largest wadi in Jordan.
The area is now also one of Jordan's important tourist destinations, and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists, particularly trekkers and climbers, but also for camel and horse safari or simply 'day-trippers' from Aqaba or Petra.
We didn’t visit Wadi Rum because of lack of time but its Rock formations were well seen out of a bus window. May be next time…
You can watch my high resolution photo of Petra on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 29° 44' 51.67" N 35° 17' 22.05" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Wadi Rum.
Wadi Musa is the name of a town which is the nearest town to the archaeological site of Petra and hosts many hotels and restaurants for tourists visiting this place.
You can watch my 5 min 39 sec HD Video Wadi Musa out of my Youtube channel.
You can watch my high resolution photo of Petra on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 30° 19' 7.26" N 35° 28' 53.92" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Wadi Musa.
An alternative Petra entrance to the Siq is via the Danqur al Khazneh steps, which approach the ruins from the south via Jebel al-Jilf and lead directly into the square in front of the Treasury.
This trail starts on the Bab as-Siq. After you enter the Petra Gate, about halfway down the Bab as-Siq you turn off to the south and climb towards Madras, a peak at 1105m altitude. Madras's summit is notable for a couple of large caves. There are also good views back towards Wadi Musa village.
After Madras, you descend to an indistinct trail which leads across Jebel al-Jilf. This route is not easy to find, and it's not particularly well signposted. There was a small tour group in the area before us - without seeing where they went we probably wouldn't have found our way.
After crossing Jebel al-Jil we passed a couple of small houses, then followed a path down towards the top of the canyon overlooking Petra's famous Siq. Much to our surprise, we emerged a viewpoint above the Treasury from where we had a fantastic view over the square and the Treasury itself. This place is not so well known (it wasn't mentioned in any guide book I read) but it provides one of the best views you're likely to find in Petra.
To reach the treasury we had to backtrack a little from the viewpoint before following the well worn steps down into the square. This descent involved quite a fair bit of scrambling, but we had little option other than to continue down. From the treasury I think this path was closed off (it's to the left of the Treasury as you face the building) so I don't think many people take this route.
A little known but spectacular viewing area of the Treasury is from a narrow, precarious plateau high above the Siq on Jebel al-Jilf.
The Treasury is Petra's most famous building, but the square beside it is almost always full of people, meaning it can be difficult to enjoy an interrupted view of it.
You'll have no such problems and no crowds at all if you hike out to this viewpoint above it, though it's not an easy place to find. In fact, we came across this place by chance. We were hoping to find a back entrance into Petra by following a path south from Bab as-Siq up into Jebel Madras.
Very little of this trail was marked, so we could only guess where we were going based on what we knew of Petra geography. We hiked across from Madras onto Jebel al-Jilf, and then followed a path past some small houses which we hoped would lead us to the Danqur al Khazneh steps down to the treasury square.
We must have taken a wrong path as we ended up right above the Treasury at the viewpoint with an absolutely stunning view of the famous ruins! We sat here for a long time watching and waiting as more and more light fell on the Treasury. We could see and hear the hundreds of people below us but there was no one but us at the platform.
It's quite an exposed place and not a place for vertigo sufferers. We very carefully crawled out and peered over the cliffs at the amazing views below.
Just before you enter the Siq, there is a path leading off to the north and into Petra via the Wadi al Mudhlim. A slight detour from this path takes you to the Eagle Shrine, well hidden in a quiet valley above the Wadi al Mudhlim tunnel.
To reach the Eagle Shrine turn right at the path just before the bridge at the Siq entrance. The path splits almost straight away, with the path to the left leading down into the river bed and along Wadi al Mudhlim, while the path to the right goes to the Eagle Shrine. Walk across the tunnel and then up the second valley on the left.
Towards the top of the valley you'll notice some niches in the rock. The most impressive of these is the Eagle Shrine, a small but elegant carving of a headless eagle. There are good views back to Wadi Musa from this valley, and it's a nice spot to escape the crowds of the Siq.
The Siq is the best-known and most spectacular entrance to Petra, and is used by the majority of visitors to the ruins. However, there are a number of alternative entrances to the ruins, which see far fewer visitors and which are well worth exploring, especially if you plan more than 1 or 2 days in Petra.
I think we found 3 alternative entrances to the ruins over our 4 day stay. The first of these was along Wadi al Mudhlim, via a 4km canyon, which became narrower and narrower before finally emerging at Wadi al Mataha inside the Petra Basin.
The trail begins just before the entrance to the Siq, where there is a small bridge and a couple of shops. The route is indicated by a small sign, which warns visitors not to try this route without a guide, though a guide is not compulsory and not needed in my opinion and we had no need of one.
There appears to be two paths at the start. If you have time you might like to explore the path to the right which goes over a tunnel and up a short valley to the Eagle Shrine, where you can see some Nabataean rock art. (My Eagle Shrine tip has more details on this).
The path into Wadi al Mudhlim initially follows the river bed and then passes through a short Nabataean tunnel (built to divert floodwater) before continuing along the river bed. After the tunnel, navigating is easy as there are no turn-offs - all you need do is follow the canyon until it emerges into a much larger canyon after 4 km.
The further you hike in Wadi al Muthlim the more the canyon starts to narrow, especially towards the end, when there is little more than a couple of metres between the canyon walls. There are a couple of tricky spots to navigate and you need to scramble up and down rocks in a couple of places, but for the most part it's fairly straight forward hiking.
The scenery along this canyon is not so impressive as in the Siq but it's a good way to escape the Siq's ever present crowds. We saw no one in the canyon until just before the end of the canyon when we met a French tour group walking the opposite way. When you finally emerge into the Petra Basin, there is still a walk of about 20 minutes back to the Roman Theatre and the main ruins. You'll be in the quieter areas of Petra, with only local Bedouin for company, but there is still plenty of hidden corners to explore and fantastic scenery to enjoy.
For details of this ask your guide/hotel/hostel
In the evening you walk, by candlelight, into ancient Petra. It's a trek (as you probably found out in the day) but well worth it! After some time you find yourself through the old entrance and moving almost silently (if you stay away from the larger tour groups) through the rocks to the Treasury. There you sit on mats. Lots of candles are arranged in front of you. Then musicians play for you ----a drummer and a flute player. Wow!
Next, a 'story-teller' talks to everyone. It may not be the form of storytelling that you may be used to ---never mind! Look up to see the Moon, if you're lucky.
When this is finished you move through the site to the restautrant that you probably visited earlier that day. There you eat and drink whilst being entertained by the retired soldiers who were around the site during the day.
Their dancing is great fun ---and you may find yourself being invited on to the dance floor to join in.
This trip is not suitable for those who need assistance with walking or who find walking at a reasonable speed difficult. However, do check with your guide: there may be a way around it!
DO TAKE A TORCH AND A CAMERA!
Would I do this again? YES!
Do check my tourist trap page.
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