Little Petra

Smaller sibling to the famous city of Petra

Little Petra is literally a smaller version of the ancient city of Petra. But if you’re interested in the cultural heritage of the Nabataeans, this is the place to go. You can find frescos here as well, which you won’t find in Petra.

Few tourists visit Little Petra, also known as Siq al-Barid (‘cold canyon’), but if you’d like to learn more about the area and its culture, you cannot miss this small archaeological site. It resembles Petra, but doesn’t have as many monumental buildings, though you can really see the Nabataean style in this part in Jordan.

Just as in Petra, you enter the town via a narrow canyon of about 325 metres. You can climb up to the top of the cliffs via stairs, and admire the view of the surrounding desert. The buildings here might not be as richly decorated as those in Petra, but the ceilings of several buildings still have frescos, which you won’t find in Petra.

A tomb in Little Petra.

The lesser known Little Petra

After the discovery of Petra, Little Petra is also discovered during the numerous investigations in the area. A village that turns out to be only a few kilometers away. It is believed that Petra did not have enough space for all the merchants (and the accompanying camels and camel drivers), so that extra housing was sought diligently.

The similarities between both places are striking. Little Petra is also hidden between the rocks and a narrow path (narrower than at Petra) leads to the entrance. Remarkable are the remains of a kind of stone security. This allows this village to be closed in the event of an attack.

There is no spring water available in Little Petra, instead rainwater is collected and channeled through various channels to shady places. Cement was already used for this, because the porous sandstone allows too much water to pass through. It is still in a fair condition, so you can still see the remains.

A traditional musician in Little Petra.

You’ll also find houses, temples, stables, grave sites, a monastery, canals and water storage facilities, and you can see beds hewn out of the cliffs. It’s a great place to roam around.

Visiting Little Petra

It’s not hard to get to, it’s only a few kilometres from Petra. You’ll notice how well-protected the town is, safely tucked away between the rocks. It’s a great place to explore, especially in the early morning. Ask in the area about your options to visit Little Petra.