Located in southwest Jordan, ancient Petra was once a flourishing spice trade center and capital of the Nabatean kingdom between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106. After sitting deserted for centuries, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was rediscovered in the 1800s and excavations began in 1958. Standout sites among the soaring sandstone cliffs include a large tomb known as Khaznah ("Treasury"); Al-Dayr ("the Monastery"), a tomb faÃ§ade used as a church during Byzantine times; and the well-preserved High Place of Sacrifice, an altar dating to biblical times. Archaeologists continue to excavate the temples, tombs and theaters, as only 15% is believed to have been uncovered. Weave through the slot canyons on foot, climb to the high points -- considered the most holy -- for a bird's-eye view or explore Petra atop a camel or horse. Special night tours wander the Lost City by candlelight. Aqaba -- Jordan's Red Sea port and resort town, located 80 miles southwest -- boasts historical sites as well as spectacular coral reefs.
Currency: Jordanian Dinar (JOD)
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