High Place of Sacrifice
The most accessible of Petra’s High Places, this well-preserved site was built atop Jebel Madbah with drains to channel the blood of sacrificial animals. A flight of steps signposted just before the Theatre leads to the site, turn right at the obelisks to reach the sacrificial platform. You can ascend by donkey (about JD10 one way), but you will sacrifice both the sense of achievement on reaching the summit and the good humour of your poor old transport.
The Siq is a canyon that connects the city of Petra with the outside world. It is a wondrous experience to walk on thousand-year-old cobblestones and see the curvy rock face in a multitude of colours. Look for traces of ancient dams and water channels used by the Nabateans to control the water supply into the city. As the Siq was the main entrance to the city, the Nabateans carved magnificent statues and arches along the Siq.
The most distinctive of the Royal Tombs is the Urn Tomb, recognizable by the enormous urn on top of the pediment. It was built in about AD 70 for King Malichos II (AD 40–70) or Aretas IV (8 BC–AD 40). The naturally patterned interior of the Urn Tomb measures a vast 18m by 20m.
Part of what makes the Urn Tomb such a grand structure is the flanking Doric portico cut into the rock face on the left of the tomb, and the huge open terrace in front of it, a feature that encouraged its use, according to a Greek inscription inside the tomb, as a cathedral in AD 447. Look towards the top of the building and you’ll see three inaccessible openings carved between the pillars. These are also tombs, the central one of which still has the closing stone intact, depicting the king dressed in a toga.
Known locally as the Treasury, this tomb is where most visitors fall in love with Petra. The Hellenistic facade is an astonishing piece of craftsmanship. Although carved out of iron-laden sandstone to serve as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III (c 100 BCE–CE 200), the Treasury derives its name from the story that an Egyptian pharaoh hid his treasure here (in the facade urn) while pursuing the Israelites.
Street of Facades
From the Treasury, the journey continues. The path widens, taking visitors to a much more open area. Here are tombs and houses built into the sandstone-mountains by the Nabataeans 2000 years ago.
The Colonnaded Street
The Colonnaded Street is the remains of the Romans who took control over Petra in 106 AD. Those Romans were masters at building, and their road still remains today, along with several columns lining the side of the road.