Reasons to Visit
Petra is the most famous of Jordan's historic ruins, but it is by no means the only one. Ummayad palaces, Graeco-Roman cities, ancient churches and crusader castles are found throughout the country and are likely to form the backbone of your time in Jordan.
Jerash is the Classical jewel in Jordan's crown but the Greeks and Romans left their traces across the country, sometimes leaving behind entire cities, like Umm Qais, and sometimes modifying existing settlements, as with the colonnaded street in Petra.
It was T.E. Lawrence who brought Wadi Rum to public attention, and his description of the desert region as "vast, echoing and godlike" sums it up perfectly. The red sand and towering sandstone mountains make this a deservedly popular destination.
Jordan is right at the forefront of conservation in the Middle East, and her reserves don't just preserve rare wildlife, like the ibex, but also remarkable scenery and traditional ways of life. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature runs five main reserves in Jordan, such as the Dana Nature Reserve.
Petra is one of the most famous UNESCO world heritage sites and one of the places everyone wants to visit once in their life. The other heritage site you may visit in Jordan is Qasr Al-Amra, protected by UNESCO because of its rich and vivid frescoes dating to the Umayyad period (the eight century AD).
Carving down from the desert plateau to the depths of the Dead Sea and Rift Valley, Jordan's wadis are a haven for the more adventurous, whether you choose to hike down Wadi Feynan to spend time at the Ecolodge there, or to tackle the deep pools and boulder chokes of the wet descent of Wadi Mujib.
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Built by the Nabateans, Petra fell into obscurity about a thousand years ago, while its existence - and location - were kept a closely-guarded secret by the local Bedouin. In 1812, John Louis Burckhardt tricked his way into the site, and almost immediately tourists began to follow.
No matter how many times you have seen Petra on television or in film, nothing prepares you for the first time you exit the tiny cleft of the Siq (the 1.2 kilometre narrow canyon leading into the city) to be confronted by the enormous splendour of the Treasury Tomb.
Built by the Nabateans, who grew rich through their control of the frankincense trade routes through Arabia, Petra fell into obscurity about a thousand years ago, while its existence - and location - were kept a closely-guarded secret by the local Bedouin.
In 1812, John Louis Burckhardt tricked his way into the site, and almost immediately tourists began to follow - in large numbers. Fortunately, even the largest crowds dissipate in this vast site.
Several days can be spent exploring Petra, although two full days will give you sufficient time to see the main city remains and some of the most interesting outlying sites.
The highlight of any trip to Jordan is undoubtedly a Petra tour, and no holiday to the country would be complete without a few days spent here exploring. If you are looking to plan a holiday to Petra our complete travel guide highlights some of our favourite places to stay, how long you need to visit and how a trip to Petra can be incorporated into a Jordan itinerary.
A Jordan family holiday has something to offer children of all ages, from exploring the city of Petra to camping and camel riding in the desert of Wadi Rum, floating in the Dead Sea to escaping the crowds and relaxing at a nature reserve.
Travelling the Kings' Highway in Jordan is a great way to see some of the sights that this 5,000 year old highway has to offer. Stops on your journey could include the churches and mosaics at Madaba and Mount Nebo, views of the Holy Land, Kerak and Shawbak castles, nature reserves, and the ancient city of Petra.
The number of well-preserved Roman sites across North Africa and Arabia is exceptional and no holiday to these destinations would be complete without visiting at least one of these historic monuments.
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