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Petra is Jordan's most famous tourist attraction. A city hewn by the Nabateans into the rose-coloured rock hidden behind the surrounding mountains, the site became famous after reports by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Since then millions of tourists have flocked to the site and even more photos of the stunning scenery have been published. Parts of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were shot here.
In ancient times Petra used to be the capital of the Nabateans, from where they controlled the caravan trade to Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Aqaba and Syria. There was heavy influence from the surrounding region with the tombs bearing symbols and signs from Syria, Greece, Egypt and Rome. It is hard to pin point the exact date of the founding of Petra. Some Scholars have tried to use the bible which gives conflicting results.
What can be said is most likely the area had been inhabited as some sort of village, trading centre or gathering place from Neolithic times. What is known for certain is by the 2nd Century BC Petra was a major trading centre in the Middle East. By looking at the tombs in can be concluded that Petra, by 80 BC, must have solidly resembled a Hellenistic city. At this time it is believed that most of the natives in Petra worshiped pre-Islam gods.
In 106 AD the Roman Governor of Syria, Cornelius Palma, absorbed Petra into the Roman Empire as Arabia Petraea. Petra continued to thrive and by 200 AD the city was at its height of power and wealth. In the mid 3rd century Petra's power began to decline rapidly. Rome started to encourage trade over the sea leaving the land lock trading centre with very few costumers. What also did not help was a major earthquake in 363 AD, which damaged most buildings. At the same time commerce was moving to another city and Petra never fully recovered. Petra was able to limp on as religious centre for another 200 years before being completely abandoned for the desert.
During the middle ages several Sultans from Egypt came to check out Petra for there own amusement every now and then. During the crusades different powers, Islamic and Christian, occasionally used Petra as a base. Petra has been heavily looted for the centuries by robbers and passing armies, which makes archeological work very difficult.
Travellers nowadays arrive by JETT bus directly from Amman, with a private taxi from Aqaba or Amman or with a minibus from Maan. They get dropped of the in the nearby village-cum-tourist resort Wadi Musa, where every second building is a hotel. Petra was finally designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985.
The park is open from approximately 6am to 5pm, depending on the time of year. The park police try to ensure people are out of the park before it is dark, because the terrain is difficult to navigate. 
The entrance fee for one day at Petra is JD21 (Jordanian Dinar), two days cost JD26, three or four days JD31. Children under 10 are half price. Jordanians and residents of Jordan can enter the park for the heavily reduced price of JD1. 
Optional extra costs could be:
A private taxi is a reasonable option to visit Petra, with a trip from Amman and back a possibility for around JD50. Be sure to negotiate the fix the price before departure.
JETT (tel: (06) 5664146) operates a fleet of air conditioned coaches from Amman to Petra. The buses depart from Abdali Station in Amman at 6:30 each morning and return to Amman from Petra at 4:00pm.
There is a minibus from Wadi Rum, which will set you back JD3 per person and take roughly 90 minutes to reach Petra. The bus usually leaves Wadi Rum at 8:30 in the morning, but can experience delays.
It is approximately 3 kilometres from the bus stop to the Treasury. Going there is a fairly easy walk, coming back however can be very taxing. If you are not in good shape, best to rent a carriage or take one of the animals.
Be sure to take lots of water, particularly in summer when the temperatures are likely to dehydrate you.
Additionally wear a hat. The sun is extremely strong.
There is a good selection of accommodation in nearby Wadi Musa.
|Cleopetra Hostel||Petra Jordan||Hostel||86|
|Desert Camp||Bedouin Village||Campsite||-|
|Mussa Spring Hotel||Ain Mussa (Spring of Moses) Petra- Jordan||Hotel||81|
|Orient Gate Hostel and Hotel||Wadi Mousa P.O.BOX 185||Hostel||78|
|Peace Way Hotel||P.O. Box 85, Main Street Opposite to Housing Bank||Hotel||63|
|Petra Gate Hostel and Hotel||Wadi Musa||Hostel||81|
|La Maison Hotel||Off Tourist Street, behind Moevenpick Hotel Wadi Musa||Hotel||77|
|Qaser Al-Bint Hotel||Jordan - Petra Main Street or Queen Rania Str Crc. Al-Shaheed||Hotel||-|
|Saba'a Hotel||Off the Main Roundabout, Wadi, Musa||Hotel||87|
|Petra Sella Hotel||P.O. Box 29 Wadi Mousa||Hotel||80|
|Shara Mountains Hostel||at the tourist street, opposite side of the Iskan Wadi Mousa||Hostel||76|
|Sun Set Hotel||Petra P.O. BOX 59||Hotel||78|
|Venus Hotel||Jordan Petra Wadi Mousa||Hotel||84|
|Valentine Inn||Wadi Musa||HOTEL||81|
|Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp||Petra, Wadi Musa||Campsite||86|
|Moon valley Hotel||Shaheed Roundabout||Hotel||-|
|Petra Diamond Hotel||Al-Zaraya Street, Wadi Musa Petra||HOTEL||-|
|Petra Edom Hotel||Petra Jordan historical area Tourism street||HOTEL||-|
|Candles Petra Hotel||Wadi Musa||Hotel||-|
|Valley Stars Inn||P.O. Box 88 main street of Wadi Musa||Hotel||-|
|Rocky Mountain Hotel||Main Street, Petra 71810||Hotel||87|
|Hidab Hotel Petra||Main Street , Beside Gas Station||Hotel||-|
|Elgee Hotel||Wastul al-Balad Opp. Arab Bank||Hotel||-|
|Oscar Hotel||Petra Authority Road P.O. Box 169||Hotel||-|
|Petra Palace Hotel||Shari El Siahy (Tourist Street) Wadi Mousa||Hotel||-|
|Al Rashid Hotel||Shari El Siahy (Tourist Street)||Hotel||85|
|Petra Family House Apartment||Main Steet , Wadi Mousa||APARTMENT||-|
|Petra Bed and Breakfast||Wadi Musa Petra||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Al-Rashid Hotel||Main Street - City Center Beside Al-Shaheed Roundabout||HOTEL||-|
|The Rock Camp Petra||Wadi Moussa Little Petra ( Beidha )||CAMPSITE||-|
|Qaser Al-Bint Hotel||Wadi Mousa||Hotel||-|
|Little Petra Bungalow||Little Petra Wadi Mousa||CAMPSITE||-|
Another way of visiting Petra, apart from the habitual hotels or hostels, is searching for accommodation in one of the Bedouin tents that stand permanently around the area. The price is a bit more expensive that the budget hotels, but they offer a taste of the ancient Bedouin lifestyle and meals.
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