The East Cliff holds an array of impressive tombs known as the 'Royal tombs'.
The cliff is on the right, a little after Petra's theatre, and you'll need to climb up to get to the tombs themselves. It's easy enough climbing: there are steps and it's not too far up.
Apart from getting a closer look at the tombs themselves, the climbing effort is worthwhile because there are really superb views of the site below. No doubt that was why the uber-smart Bedouin policeman had taken up position at the entry to one of the tombs. He had a fantastic view of what was going on in the area where the main visitor throng walks and where there are many tent-cafes, restaurants and shops.
The cliff itself is beautiful, a deep red in the right light and with streaks of reds, oranges, yellows and purples exposed inside some of the tombs and occasionally on the facades as well. I visited in the morning, when the East Cliff was in shadow and the rest of the site in sun but i was told that the cliff is at its most colourful when viewed in the late afternoon.
If you have time, do climb up. It really is worth the effort.
The first of the so called Royal Tombs is the Urn Tomb. This tomb is built high on the mountain side, and requires climbing up a number of flights of stairs. It was suggested that this is the tomb of Nabataean King Malchus II who died in 70 AD. On the other hand it is considered the tomb of Aretas IV.
It is preceded by a deep courtyard with colonnades on two sides. High up in the facade there are 3 niches which give on to small burial chambers. Their inaccessibility would have made them relatively safe from tomb robbers.
The small Silk Tomb is remarkable for the swirls of different colored rock which make up its facade. Then you will see the Corinthian Tomb, which combines various elements of both the Nabataean and the classical architectural styles. Next to it is the broad, 3-storey high Palace Tomb, interesting in that its lower part was cut from the rock, while some of its upper storey was constructed with masonry when the cliff itself proved to be too low.
The little old man whom we met at the theatre decided to act as our guide, and pointed out a large building on the opposite side of the street from to theatre. To me none of these facades looked like real buildings that people actually lived or worked in,.
There were a number of other buildings too, but I can't identify them.
Just a short way from where Marguerite Van Geldermalsen has her “book shop” and trinket stall you will look to your right and see that magnificent Royal Tombs.
You can brave the hundreds of steps and walk up to the tombs but, in my case, I did not brave the walk. Even though I had drank plenty of water, the heat was well over 40 degrees Celsius and I decided that I would head over to the “Royal Tomb Shop” and have lunch and a cold beer…excellent choice if you ask me!
I am sure that these tombs must have been almost as impressive as Al-Khazneh in its original state.
Three of these which are outstanding;
Palace Tomb and
Sextius Florentinus Tomb.
These three tombs are all different in design and are quite imposing.
There are a series of big tombs called Royal Tombs.
The Urn Tomb, built high on the mountain side, could be the tomb of Nabataean King Malchus II or the tomb of Aretas IV.
There is a small tomb known as the Silk Tomb due to the color of the sandstone.
Carved into the rock are the impressive burial places that are collectively known as the 'Royal Tombs'. The one pictured is the Urn Tomb, this is reachable by stairs. Once there you can stand on the open terrace above the open vaults and view the columns & room inside close up.
As you exit the deep chasm in the sandstone rock, the Royal Tombs stretch down the right side along the same chunk of stone that you exited from. The best views of the Royal Tombs can be gained from further on, at the Great Temple and the stairs up to the Al Deir monastery, but you can get up right close to them if you want. The tombs consist of four major buildings carved out of the rock.
The first major tomb is the Urn Tomb, that can be accessed by a number of flights of stairs. It has a courtyard lined with columns, and a main chamber that was converted into a church. On the rear wall is an inscription from when the church was consecrated: by Bishop Jason in 447AD. Next door to the Urn Tomb is the colourful, but small, Silk Tomb. Next to that is the Treasury look-a-like Corinthian Tomb. Finally, on the far left, is the large, Romanesque Palace Tomb.
The Tombs at Petra are one of the highlights for sure! The colours of the the sandstone is amazing here, and as well as being incredibly interesting they offer a home away from the heat for a while!
The climb up is nice, its not high but it might feel it in the heat!
If you diddnt feel up to the short walk - get a donkey....or a camel.....or a ferrari!
The Royal Tombs - or the King's Wall - are an imposing set of carved tombs and, in their time, were likely to have been as impressive at the Treasury. Their somewhat exposed location has seen them eroded by weather, but this does not detract from their spectacular presence.
The Urn Tomb is prececed by a deep colannaded forecourt and as such is raised above ground level. This was undergoing some serious reconstruction when we were there, but in the interim one of the burial chambers had been claimed by trinket sellers! :)
The Silk Tomb is next (although, due to access from the wadi, the Silk Tomb is usually the first to b reached) and then comes the Corinthian and Palace Tombs. The Corinthian Tomb name comes much later than when it was carved - named after the 2nd level, which is Hellenistic in appearance (similar to the Treasury and the Monastery) atop the more traditional Nabatean lower level.
The Palace Tomb gained its name from its appearance - that of Hellenistic palaces of the time. The two lower levels are all carved into the rockface of jebel el-Kubtha, the top level built of masonry, most of which has collapsed.
The King's Wall is a seriously impressive series of monuments, their location as such they were seen from the Colannaded Street and the central hub of Petra.
The Royal Tombs are built into the side of the mountain and overlook the eastern side of the site. There are Bedouin hanging around the site but they dont really bother you, they just want to make a few dollars. The amazing staircase goes up the side of the wall to the Urn Tomb among others. There are numerous tombs and they are all spectacular. They are in different stages of erosion making each of them unique. After you reach the top of the staircase, the views are stunning.
The Royal Tombs look out over the Roman Road. From left to right in the picture you have The Palace Tomb, The Corinthian Tomb, The Silk Tomb and the Urn Tomb. The best views of these tombs are from the Roman Road or the hill alongside it. But all are worth a closer look.