Our gregarious guide Mohammad pointed to the intricate carvings on the wall, “It’s a urinal. I need two volunteers.” Naturally, we were picked to do something this humiliating. Facing towards the ‘urinals’ we were suddenly spun around by his hands. My hand touched Audrey’s fingers and at that particular moment I finally clued in to what was going on.
This particular area was where marriage ceremonies took place and instead of our entire group laughing at us pretending to use the toilet, we shared the same genuine chuckles over the two of us involved in a mock wedding. Oh, how our families will be disappointed/shocked at having not being invited on our special day 😉
Many archaeological sites and/or UNESCO Heritage sites don’t live up to the hype. When I visited the Taj Mahal in Agra I felt a little underwhelmed. Although it was impressive I expected more. I suppose at times I suffer a little bit from my preconceived expectations: Paris Syndrome except in more exotic locales.
However, I must genuinely admit that Petra not only lived up to my expectations – it exceeded them. The sheer size in combination with the impressive architecture helped me channel my inner Indiana Jones 😉
Petra Travel Photos: Photo Essay of 20 Pictures from Petra, Jordan
Once called the ‘rose red city’ this ancient Nabataean city in the southern region of Jordan is home to the most famous tourist attraction (Petra) in all of Jordan. The former capital of the Nabataean kingdom from the 6th century BC thrived until it was conquered by the Roman Empire in AD 106. As a thriving center for commerce and trade, Petra flourished until a fateful earthquake devastated the cities infrastructure in AD 663. Saladin’s conquest of the Middle East in 1189, rendered Petra abandoned with its memory lost to the west and east for centuries.
In fact, it wasn’t until the daring Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the – at the time – Bedouin inhabited city that it was put back on the world map. After numerous excavation efforts Petra is now Jordan’s principle tourist attraction since 1929. It’s well known in popular culture as the site where Indian Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed and recently in 2007 it was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the world. A distinction, that in my opinion, was rather tardy.
Photo Essay of Petra, Jordan
As a travel photographer, visiting Petra, Jordan is like a boy realizing a childhood dream of visiting a fantasy land. It was hard to put my camera down; however, I did manage to spend plenty of time taking in Petra with my own two eyes and not just behind the lens.
The moment I realized the treasury was mere meters in front of me is one of the most distinct memories I have from Petra, Jordan. Another top moment was hiking the monastery in Petra.
This is the iconic image from Petra, Jordan – a wide angle perspective shot of the treasury. You won’t have this place to yourself though as hoards of tourists, camels and even cats all compete for space.
I’ve seen this man many times in photo galleries from other friends who have been to Petra. It was almost surreal getting to take his photo.
The echoing sound of galloping horses is one in which you’ll learn to familiarize yourself with when visiting Petra
A final shot I took (and edited in sepia) just before sunset.
Well, how could we resist not taking a lovey dovey couple shot in Petra, Jordan for our future grandchildren 😉
This man isn’t nearly as imposing as he seems. In fact, I just had to pay him a small fee in order for him to let me pass. He even let me take his photo 😉
I often had to remind myself to turn around and look back. Petra is so grand and massive that you forget sometimes to check your surroundings from the rear.
There were no shortage of animal powered transportation options; however, mule certainly seemed less attractive of an option than going by camel or horseback.
No photo essay of mine would be complete with an obligatory shot of a roaming cat. This one was slinking around some trinkets being sold outside of a small shop.
The architecture and especially the intricate carvings boggled my mind. At this point in the day we were exhausted from all of the walking we had done. Worse yet was that the heat was really getting to us; however, we didn’t want to miss out on climbing the steps to get a closer look.
HDR photography came in handy every once in a while given the contrast between the harsh shadows and bright highlights.
Fancy a camel ride? A few days later we rode camels from our Bedouin camp grounds to the area where we’d eventually have breakfast. Camels = 1, Sam and Audrey = 0 To say these lumbering beasts tenderized us would be quite the understatement.
The rewards of climbing steps were that we had a great vantage point view over Petra. On the right you’ll notice many trinkets for sale.
Aside from Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, I’ve never visited an archaeological site that lived up to its hype and impressed me as much as Petra, Jordan. I only wish I had more time to explore its vast expanse.
As a travel photography tip, don’t forget to look up at your surroundings.
This Bedouin man was waiting on his camel for a tourist to come along an accept his offer for a ride.
Our surprise wedding at Jordan, Petra was something we’ll never forget. Our families I’m sure won’t either as in the sense they weren’t invited 😉
In order to get a sense of the sheer size of these grounds, I’ve used people in the background as a scale. With more time I would have liked to have had the opportunity to explore more of the frontier areas of the city; however, with just half a day I think I made the most of my time here.
Travel Video: Petra
Petra, Jordan Travel Video
Photography Tips: How To Take Great Photos Visiting Petra, Jordan
- Timing is everything: The optimal time to photograph Petra is during the golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset when the light is soft and warm. Avoid taking pictures during midday when the sun is overhead, casting harsh shadows and making the colors appear dull.
- Explore different angles: Petra offers a plethora of unique angles and perspectives to photograph. Experiment with various viewpoints, such as low-angle shots or wide-angle compositions, to capture the grandeur and details of the architecture and landscape.
- Play with light and shadows: Petra’s architecture and rock formations create fascinating patterns and shadows that make for stunning photographic subjects. Use the interplay of light and shadows to create depth and drama in your images.
- Incorporate people: Including people in your photos can provide a sense of scale and add a human element to your shots. Seek out locals or fellow travelers to add a personal touch to your images and bring the place to life.
- Pay attention to details: Petra is a treasure trove of intricate details and textures that make for compelling photographs. Focus on the smaller details, such as carvings, textures, and patterns, to capture the essence and unique features of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Use a tripod: A tripod can be handy to stabilize your camera and capture sharp images, especially during low-light situations or long exposures.
- Edit mindfully: While post-processing can enhance your images, use editing tools judiciously to maintain the natural beauty and authenticity of Petra. Avoid over-saturating or over-editing your images, as it can detract from the intrinsic beauty of the place.
Petra is a remarkable site, and by following these tips, you can capture its allure and magnificence through your lens.
Brief History Of Petra For Travel Photographers
Petra, situated in the southwestern region of Jordan, is a city of immense historical significance that once served as the capital of the Nabataean kingdom. The Nabataeans were an ancient Arab tribe that settled in the region around the 6th century BC and transmuted the arid landscape into a flourishing metropolis through their sophisticated architecture and water management systems.
Petra was strategically located at the crossroads of the trade routes that connected Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and the Mediterranean world, making it a crucial hub for commerce and cultural exchange. The Nabataeans amassed substantial wealth from their trade activities, which enabled them to erect monumental structures, elaborate temples, and an intricate network of water channels and cisterns that facilitated their survival in the harsh desert environment.
The Nabataeans were revered for their expertise in rock-cut architecture, which is evident in the numerous structures they chiseled out of the sandstone cliffs that encircle the city. One of the most iconic structures in Petra is the Treasury, or Al-Khazneh, a masterpiece of Nabataean architecture adorned with intricate carvings and a towering facade that rises nearly 40 meters high.
Petra’s prosperity and significance waned after the Roman Empire annexed the city in AD 106. The Romans expanded and embellished the city with new edifices and infrastructure, such as a theater, amphitheater, and a grand colonnaded street. Petra remained an important trade center under Roman rule until it was eventually deserted around the 7th century AD, following a catastrophic earthquake that devastated much of the city’s infrastructure.
Petra remained unknown to the western world until 1812, when a Swiss explorer named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered it. Since then, Petra has captivated the imagination of travelers and adventurers, inspiring artists, writers, and filmmakers to depict its grandeur and mystique.
Today, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Jordan’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors each year. Travelers can explore Petra’s awe-inspiring architecture, including the Treasury, the Monastery, and the Royal Tombs, and immerse themselves in its rich cultural and historical heritage. They can also revel in the breathtaking natural scenery, such as the colorful sandstone cliffs, the sinuous Siq canyon, and the rugged terrain that surrounds the city.
In conclusion, Petra’s history is a testament to the Nabataean people’s ingenuity and creativity, as they transformed an inhospitable environment into a thriving urban center. For travelers, Petra offers a mesmerizing window into the past and a chance to witness the enduring legacy of this remarkable civilization.
Accommodations For Travel Photographers Visiting Petra
Petra, with its stunning architecture, unique natural setting, and rich cultural heritage, is a dream destination for travel photographers. From the iconic Treasury to the majestic Monastery and the winding Siq canyon, Petra offers countless opportunities to capture stunning images.
To make the most of their experience, travel photographers visiting Petra should choose their accommodations wisely. Staying within the Petra Archaeological Park offers the convenience of easy access to the park’s main entrance, and proximity to the most famous landmarks. Some hotels, such as the Movenpick Resort Petra and the Petra Guest House Hotel, offer views of the surrounding cliffs and mountains and provide all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay, including Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and 24-hour room service.
Alternatively, staying in the nearby town of Wadi Musa can provide a more authentic and immersive experience, as visitors can connect with local families and enjoy local cuisine. Many bed and breakfasts and guesthouses are family-owned and operated, offering a unique and personalized experience. For example, the Rocky Mountain Hotel is a charming and affordable option that offers traditional hospitality and a tranquil setting with beautiful views.
For those seeking a luxurious experience, there are several high-end resorts within easy reach of Petra. The Mövenpick Resort Petra is a five-star resort with a spa, swimming pool, and fine dining options. The Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa, located about an hour and a half away from Petra, offers a luxurious oasis with multiple swimming pools, a private beach, and a spa.
Regardless of the type of accommodation chosen, travel photographers visiting Petra should prioritize a comfortable and restful environment that allows them to recharge after long days of photography. Additionally, they should consider factors such as proximity to the park, views, and amenities to enhance their experience. By choosing the right accommodation, travel photographers can fully immerse themselves in the beauty and history of Petra and capture stunning images that will last a lifetime.
Best Time Of Year To Photograph Petra
Petra, an ancient city carved into red sandstone cliffs in Jordan, is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world. The best time of year to photograph Petra largely depends on your preferences and the kind of photography you’re interested in.
If you’re interested in taking pictures of Petra with a backdrop of snow-covered mountains, then winter (December to February) is a great time to visit. This is also the quietest time of year, with fewer crowds and cooler temperatures.
On the other hand, if you want to capture the warm hues of the sandstone and dramatic shadows cast by the sun, then spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are ideal. During these times, the weather is mild and the light is at its best for photography, especially during the golden hour before sunset.
Summer (June to August) is the busiest time of year, with the highest temperatures and the largest crowds. However, if you don’t mind the heat, this can be a good time to photograph Petra, as the warm colors of the rock are particularly vivid in the bright sunlight.
It’s worth noting that the best time of day to photograph Petra is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky and the shadows are longer. This is also when the light is softer and more diffused, which can create a more dramatic and atmospheric effect in your photographs.
Other Top Photography Spots In Jordan
Jordan is a photographer’s dream, with a myriad of stunning landscapes, ancient ruins, and vibrant cities that offer endless possibilities for capturing incredible images. While Petra may be the most famous photography destination in the country, there are plenty of other stunning locations that are equally worthy of your lens.
- Wadi Rum: Known as the “Valley of the Moon,” Wadi Rum is a vast desert wilderness filled with dramatic sandstone mountains and red sand dunes. This landscape makes for some stunning photography, especially during sunrise and sunset when the warm tones of the sandstone are accentuated. Additionally, Wadi Rum is an excellent location for astrophotography, as it has very low light pollution.
- Dead Sea: The lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea offers a unique landscape that is ideal for photography. The salt formations on the shore of the sea, the contrast of the blue water with the stark desert mountains in the background, and the reflections of the surrounding hills are all worth capturing. It’s best to visit during the golden hour or sunrise/sunset for optimal lighting conditions.
- Dana Biosphere Reserve: Located in the south of Jordan, the Dana Biosphere Reserve offers a unique opportunity to photograph wildlife and stunning landscapes. The reserve boasts over 700 plant species, 190 bird species, and numerous other mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. You can capture some incredible images of the reserve’s rugged terrain, mountains, and canyons.
- Amman Citadel: Located in the heart of the Jordanian capital, the Amman Citadel is a historical site that offers some fantastic photographic opportunities. It boasts stunning views of the city and is particularly breathtaking at night when the city lights up. The Citadel itself is also a great subject, with its ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic ruins.
- Jerash: A well-preserved ancient Roman city, Jerash offers a unique photographic experience. The city’s towering columns, amphitheaters, and arches provide fantastic architectural shots, while the surrounding countryside offers an impressive backdrop for landscape photography.
- Ajloun Forest Reserve: Located in northern Jordan, the Ajloun Forest Reserve offers a unique combination of woodland and mountain scenery. You can capture some stunning images of the reserve’s pine forests, as well as the panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
- Aqaba: A coastal city located on the Red Sea, Aqaba offers some of the best underwater photography opportunities in Jordan. With its crystal clear waters, you can capture some breathtaking images of the Red Sea’s marine life and coral reefs.
- Al Azraq Wetland Reserve: A unique ecosystem, the Al Azraq Wetland Reserve offers some of the best birdwatching and photography opportunities in Jordan. You can capture images of migratory birds, including the rare lesser kestrel and marbled duck, as well as the reserve’s other wildlife.
- Madaba: Known as the “City of Mosaics,” Madaba is famous for its ancient Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. You can capture some stunning images of these intricate mosaics, as well as the city’s historic buildings and streets.
- Ajloun Castle: A historic fortress located in northern Jordan, Ajloun Castle offers some fantastic photography opportunities. You can capture images of the castle’s impressive architecture, as well as the surrounding mountains and valleys.
These destinations offer just a glimpse into the many incredible photography opportunities available in Jordan. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, landscapes, or historic sites, Jordan has something for every photography enthusiast.
For this trip we partnered with My Jordan Journey.
Wow Lovely photos…. Jordan is the most famous attractive place for tourist…Really go for Jordan (Petra)..
Stunning photos! It looks like it was an incredible visit, and the “marriage” was a cute touch! Thanks for sharing your trip!
We had a lovely time in Jordan as well – here is the link to my blog…hope you enjoy it:
Funny mock marriage story! And what a wonderful site. Your photos capture it well!
Thanks Christine! It is one of those places that totally lives up to the hype 🙂
Such wonderful pictures. My favourite has to be of the sun coming up behind the rocks/wall. Brilliantly captured. When we went to Petra, it was a half day trip. I really wanted to stay overnight to capture the place at night. There are just way too many people during the day, don’t you think ? (from a photography point of view).
Would love to return some day. And Oh, BTW, congratulations to you and the Mrs. 😉
Indeed, early in the morning and late at night would be the best times to go. Apparently at night there is hardly anyone!
Posts like these makes me regret not appreciating Petra when i went there….I guess i’ll have to go back 😉
BTW, weddings and all…My mother was offered 150 camels by a jordanian in Petra if she agreed to give me to him. Yeap.
LOL, 150 camels! That’s quite an offer 😉
Beautiful photographs, Samuel! I’m newer to your site and have very much enjoyed all your stories and photos. I’ll be taking a leap of faith and quitting my job and starting my own adventure soon of teaching English in Spain. Reading your site has removed any hesitation or worries I’ve had. Thank you!
That’s awesome Mike! Congrats on taking the leap 🙂
Love these pictures! You really have a talent. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Thank you Alyssa!
Amazing pictures! Makes me want to go. My favorite is the sepia shot. The light is beautiful. Also, congratulations on the wedding. (smile)
Thanks Brit! Hahaha, we didn’t plan on getting married there but you know how that goes…
What a magical place. How long do you recommend visiting Petra and the surrounding areas?
For Petra I’d recommend at least two days. If you’re pressed for time I would then head to Wadi Rum for a couple of days in the desert 🙂
Stunning photography and I loved the video as well. Congratulations on your wedding, what a spectacular way to start your married lives together!
Thanks Barbara 🙂
What a funny marriage it would have been had it actually be real 😉
Have to save a lot for this!
I think I’ll love Petra more than Angkor Wat!
I honestly think I like Petra more than Angkor Wat having been to both.
Ha I can never think of Petra without instant images of Indian Jones – The lost Crusade coming to mind! 🙂
The perspective on that camel shot blew my mind! Ha
Looks like you guys had a wicked time!
I’m dying to get back again soon 🙂
Great shots Sam! My wife and I went to Jordan in April last year and loved it. The views from the Monastery were epic too!
That’s cool! I’m guessing it was a lot warmer during that time of year!
Petra is on my travel wishlist for this year. Your photos and words are beautiful. Makes me more excited!
Thank you Stephanie!
I sure hope your plans come true and you do go this year 🙂
Petra, Jordan is always been my dream place to visit. The carved structure is so surreal and fantastic which makes me think at first that it is not true. Such a great place!
I have to agree with you Jorja. I couldn’t believe how detailed and intricate the carvings were. I can only imagine how it must have been before it became ruins.
Wow, the angle on your first photo just allowed me to get a glimpse of your excitement, almost like I was right there next to you. From the architecture to the people, it is just all very beautiful in every way.
Coming around that corner is something I’ll never forget. I really hope I get a chance to return again someday.
And another place added to my travel bucket list! Gorgeous photos, Petra looks breathtaking. I especially love the second shot, the peekaboo view through the rocks.
Definitely bucket-list worthy! I’d go back again 🙂
Amazing photos!! Would love to visit one day…looks surreal. Congratulations!
It is a surreal kind of place! Hope you can go there soon!
Wow! What an experience it must have been. Things often look less impressive on photos than they really are, but each one of these speak tales of majestic architecture and scenery that’s leaving me speechless. Great photo essay man!
Thank you Ruann! It sure was an experience I’ll never forget 🙂
Amazing photos! congrats :)) great memories of Petra, hope to go back one day :)) Happy Holidays!
It sure is an amazing place. Happy New Year!
Love the colors- Petra is high on my list!!
Thanks Kieu! It’s an amazing place. Hope you guys get to go soon 🙂
Orgasmical photos! Exploring Petra last year is one of my all-time travel highlights – don’t you think walking through the Siq to the Treasury is the perfect way to built a sense of anticipation??
I agree with you! It’s such a magical place. I really want to return again soon.
I enjoyed the perspectives you used here, especially the one looking up at the camels. What an amazing place!
Thank you Jenna! It sure is an amazing place 🙂
You’re right it is truly exhausting the place is huge, god I wish now I spent more time trying to capture better pics. These completely put them to shame lol Pic number 3 is fantastic, Good job and congratulations!
I was really lucky to have good weather on the day that I went. I hope you’ll get a chance to revisit again soon!
As usual your photos are amazing! I have also enjoyed very much the video on Petra and the CATS… OMG! The CATS! LOL!
It’s an amazing place to visit and it’s also a great place to pet cats…haha
Great photos, Samuel…
Thank you!!! 🙂
Oh wow the colours and contrast in these shots are stunning. I’ve clearly been missing out on your photo blog for too long!
Thank you Kate! I’m hoping to share more photos from Jordan soon 🙂
Thanks for reminding me how great Petra is. I want to go back to Jordan and visit more places.
I have to admit the lovey dovey shot is MY FAVORITE! Glad to see you enjoying yourselves!
We Said Go Travel
Thank you Lisa!
Happy holidays to you as well 🙂 I hope you’ll get a chance to revisit again soon 🙂
Wow!! Truly impressive. All amazing pictures and what a fantastic vdo too; the meow meow song made me laugh! I’ really want to visit Jordan even more now 🙂 Enjoyed your post!
I get a bit nutty when I’m around cats 😉 I definitely recommend visiting Jordan soon if you get the chance!
I very much enjoyed your post. I have been fascinated with Petra for years. It is on our list of must see places. We have traveled with our family to 16 countries in the last year, but have not made it there yet. Do you think that a 7 year old would be able to handle it?
I think it’s a destination that is accommodating enough for kids. I can imagine children would love visiting Petra and also camping out with the Bedouins in the desert.
Thank you Liz 🙂
Awesome essay guys!
Love Petra! Its on the “one day” list!
Definitely considering bumping it up the list a bit – it’s worth it 😉
Great photos. That was an awesome post.
Thank you Tiffany 🙂
God how awesome, I really want to go! Beautiful and personal angles on a much-photographed subject.
Thanks Natasha! I hope you’ll be able to go soon 🙂
Beautiful photos as well. So glad you got to live out your childhood dream. And cute mock wedding. 😀
Thanks Cheryl! We couldn’t stop laughing about the mock wedding 😉
Wow wow wow, the architecture is just spectacular!!!
And the orange colour is something that would make me walking there with open mouth the whole time.
It’s definitely a destination worth adding to your bucket-list 🙂
These are great, Samuel! I love the unexpected camera angles, looking up at the camels and getting up close with the ruins. It’s nice to know that the site lived up to the hype! Now I want to go more than ever 🙂
I sure hope you get to go soon 🙂
Sam you’re right on the money with your comment that time in Jordan is like realizing a childhood dream of visiting a fantasy land.
At least, from your photos it certainly looks that way.
This is one place I’m dying to revisit again – hopefully soon 🙂
I think my favorite shot here is the one at the top of the climb where you can see the whole landscape.
Congratulations on the wedding! 😉
Thanks Matt! Best day of my life getting married and all 😉