August the 22nd marks the 200th anniversary of the lost city of Petra’s rediscovery by the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt. To celebrate this icon of Jordan, we’ve put together some of our favourite photographs of this fabled place. Have you seen it in person? If not, why not??
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1. Before the Siq
After leaving the visitor centre the initial walk is through a wide Wadi, that winds its way towards the Siq. It is here that you first glimpse some of the wonders of Petra that were hidden for to the outside world for hundreds of years.
2. To the Siq
Johann Burckhardt wishes he'd had it this easy. As the Bedouin kept the ruins a secret, Burckhardt had to learn Arabic and travel in disguise. His interest was piqued by reports of ruins hidden in the mountains at Wadi Musa - "the spring of Moses", known in the Bible as the place where Moses brought a spring from the rock by hitting it with a stick. Under the pretence of offering a sacrifice to Aaron, Burckhardt persuaded his guide to turn from the intended route. Petra lay waiting...
3. The Siq
The walk through the Siq is 1.2 kilometres long and is probably one of the most fascinating walks in the world. The further you walk the more the anticipation builds until finally one of the most iconic views in the world looms before you.
4. First glimpse
The majority of people who walk this route know exactly what is waiting for them, but the initial glimpse of the Treasury is one of the most overwhelming views in the world. Imagine how Burckhardt must have felt when this same view loomed ahead of him 200 years ago.
5. The Cars
Usually the foreground in front of the Treasury is full of visitors and camels, but on this occasion the foreground is packed with classic cars, two 1928 Bentleys and a 1914 Rolls Royce Alpine Eagle, a model once driven by Lawrence of Arabia.
6. Sitting above Petra
It is not always possible to climb to this vantage point in Petra but this has to be one of the best views of the Treasury there is.
7. Kids on a donkey
The lady in the picture is Marguerite Van Geldermalsen. She visited Petra as a tourist in 1978, fell in love with a local Bedouin and lived in a cave house with him and their children.
8. Cave house
A house in Petra similar to the one that Marguerite lived in and where she brought up her family. She has also written a book about her life in Petra called Married to a Bedouin.
9. To the Urn Tomb
Yes it is definitely worth the climb, as it is one of the few facades that you can enter. It also provides some of the best views of downtown Petra.
10. The Urn Tomb
Once a Royal Tomb, it was then converted into a church by Christians in the Byzantine period. Many people don’t visit the tomb as the climb puts them off, but it is definitely worth the climb.
11. Petra facades
The Petra archaeological park is 42 square kilometres in size, and rock cut tombs and facades are scattered throughout the park. Petra was home to approximately 30,000 people during its heyday and therefore it’s worth allowing plenty of time to explore the whole site.
12. Roman city
After conquering Petra, the Romans built their own city that was surrounded by the Nabatean tombs and caves. Much of the Roman buildings have been destroyed by multiple earthquakes over the last 2,000 years.
13. Climb to the monastery
The climb - more of a walk than a climb - to the Monastery is up 800 rock-cut steps and is about 1.5 kilometres in length. Although the climb is quite strenuous the views of Petra are stunning and certainly worth the effort.
14. The Monastery
The Monastery is Petra’s biggest façade and measures 47 by 45 metres. Although not as intricate as the Treasury, its sheer size probably make it the most impressive façade in the archaeological park.