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The Treasury at Petra

The Treasury at Petra. Photo: Thinkstock

It’s that time again to reveal our monthly travel bucket list destination, and in April we head to the Middle East to visit the magnificent city of Petra.

Few places can capture the imagination likethe ancient city of Petra, and few times of year are better to visit than the month of April, when Jordan’s wildflowers are in bloom and temps hover around 73 degrees.

Once buried under Jordanian sands for a thousand years before it was rediscovered in 1812, Petra remains wrapped in a timeless fortress of standing rocks. Despite the fact that tourists come in droves to the country’s leading attraction, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra still manages to feel like an unbelievable secret.

The Nabataeans, ancient Nomadic traders, built Petra as their capital and a commercial crossroads around 312 BC. But Petra’s most remarkable story is that it was hewn entirely from the towering rocks that surround it—quite literally, the city was carved from giant rocks. Wander within its walls and you can’thelp but to marvel its stunning craftsmanship and sophisticated engineering, including channels to transport water, not to mention the primitive tools and time required to erect a city like this—like no other—some two millennia ago. It is enough to blow your mind.

Move it from the bucket list and visit now, while the beautiful April weather calls. When you get there, be sure not to miss these iconic sites and experiences:

• Enter Petra through its dramatic Siq, a narrow 3,300-foot-path that winds like a river through a gorge flanked by 260-foot-high rose cliffs. Notice the remnant of terra cotta pipes once used to transport water.

• Poet John William Burgon described Petra as “the rose-red city half as old as time,” and you will understand exactly what he meant when the Siq opens up to Al Khazneh (the Treasury), a 13-story crypt. Film buffs might recall seeing the Treasury in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Harrison Ford discovers the Holy Grail.

• Climb the steps of Al Deir, the monastery honoring the Nabataean god of heaven. Walk the baths, markets, Temple of the Winged Lions, the Corinthian Tomb and the Palace Tomb. There are colonnaded streets, caves, obelisks, sacrificial altars and hundreds of tombs scattered around the city. It’s said that less than five percent of the city has been uncovered; explore it all and look for more.


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Nina Kokotas Hahn

Nina Kokotas Hahn

Nina Kokotas Hahn is a travel writer and Chicago journalist whose work appears in Chicago magazine, HuffPost Travel and Condé Nast’s HotelChatter. Globetrotting since infancy, she’s the daughter of a travel agent and considers thrill seeking part of the DNA. Find her on Twitter at @ninakhahn.

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