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  • Writer's pictureKatie

Petra in the Movies

Where do you go if you want to feel like Indiana Jones? You go to Petra, in southern Jordan, of course; it’s one of the world’s most beautiful archeological sites. Petra was a symbol of wealth for an ancient trading community, but more recently it's become the setting of some very famous films. With each cameo in cinema, Petra has made us want to become archeologists ourselves and travel to visit it- by camelback or flying carpet.

Indiana Jones and Al-Khazneh

The Nabataeans first settled at the UNESCO World Heritage Site as early as the 4th century BC. It was a perfect spot because of its proximity to trade routes. Soon the city became the kingdom's capital and trading hub. In the 1st century AD, Al-Khazneh, otherwise known as the Treasury, was constructed to symbolize how Petra had flourished.

One look at the Treasury can make you feel like you're on an expedition walking in Indiana Jones's shoes. In fact you are, because Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade used Petra as the backdrop for a couple of scenes. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are just as stunned by the structure as you will be when you first see it.

The famous adventure hero and his father enter and exit through the tight cavernous trenches in the mountains surrounding the city, called the Siq. They might also look familiar because they were featured in The Mummy Returns. The evil Imhotep uses his magic to flood the dam and crash the airship at the edge of the fictional Oasis.

Burial Grounds And Urns

Another film that showcases the beauty of Petra is Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. In various scenes, the characters visit different parts of the city, including The Street of Facades, an ancient burial ground located next to the Siq. They also visit the Palace Tomb, one of the four Royal Tombs, and the Urn Tomb, named after the urn at the top.

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen also featured the Urn Tomb. Contrary to real-life protocol, Shia LeBeouf and his gang entered the ancient tomb without any site staff denying them access. More recent films like Aladdin have also used Petra as a backdrop.

There are so many sites to see in Petra. They’re all equally beautiful, so it's no wonder Hollywood enlisted them as the backdrops to some of the most famous movies. Suppose you want to squeeze in the Treasury, the Siq, and others, including the Theatre, the Colonnaded Street, and the Great Temple. In that case, you might want to look into getting the three-day pass. You don't want to miss out on even the smallest of tombs.

Another thing to consider is the time of year you want to visit. If you're okay with temperatures soaring into the 90's, then Petra in the summer is excellent. If you don't like melting in the sun, your best bet is to travel there any time in the spring or autumn months. Since it rains the most at the start of the year, and there's hardly any coverage from the sun, let alone the rain, you best not go in the winter either.

Either way, we can help you with these decisions when the time is right. COVID devastated Petra’s tourism, so much so that the Jordanian government has now authorized excavations to be done outside the Treasury to use the dry period and lack of visitors.

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