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Put simply, the "Rose-red city" of Petra is one of the world's great archaeological sites, recently voted one of the "new seven wonders of the world." From the moment you emerge from the shade of the serpentine Siq canyon into the blinding Classical facade of the Treasury, Petra reveals itself like a sandstone fantasy, where Roman, Egyptian and Assyrian styles blend on the facades of a thousand hillside tombs. Seemingly frozen in time, Petra was indeed lost to the outside world for centuries, a 2000-year-old Nabataean trading town deserted until its rediscovery in the 19th-century. It takes a full day to tour the central city, with its ...

Put simply, the "Rose-red city" of Petra is one of the world's great archaeological sites, recently voted one of the "new seven wonders of the world." From the moment you emerge from the shade of the serpentine Siq canyon into the blinding Classical facade of the Treasury, Petra reveals itself like a sandstone fantasy, where Roman, Egyptian and Assyrian styles blend on the facades of a thousand hillside tombs. Seemingly frozen in time, Petra was indeed lost to the outside world for centuries, a 2000-year-old Nabataean trading town deserted until its rediscovery in the 19th-century. It takes a full day to tour the central city, with its Roman-style amphitheater, palaces and streets of elaborately carved tombs. To really indulge your inner Indiana Jones you're better off budgeting a full three days to explore the numerous rock-hewn side stairways, remote clifftop holy places and hidden side tombs. Petra rivals Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat in its popularity, but it's surprisingly easy to find your own private corner here. Just bring some hiking shoes and a wide-brimmed hat and Petra is yours. It simply should not be missed.

Bradley Mayhew
About the Expert

Bradley Mayhew is the author of more than 25 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, including Central Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Jordan, and is coauthor of the Odyssey guide to Uzbekistan.

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Bradley Mayhew for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Middle East, Jordan, an archaeological site in southwestern Jordan
  • Language: Arabic
  • Currency: Jordanian Diner
  • Research: Wikitravel | Petra
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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  • Best Time to Visit:

    Sping (March, April), fall (September, October)