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  2. Jordan
  3. Petra
  4. The Monastery

The Monastery, Petra

Upper facade of Petra's Monastery against a bright Jordanian sky. Photo © Roel Meurders. View all images in our The Monastery Photo Gallery.
Photo © Martin Gray.
The Monastery at Petra. It was probably never a monastery, but does seem to have been used as a Christian church at one time. Photo © Joan Rubi√≥.
Photo © David Bjorgen.

Giving the Treasury a run for its money as the most impressive monument at Petra is the Monastery (a.k.a. al-Deir or ad-Dayr in Arabic), which is about an hour's climb north of Petra's city center.

The Monastery is beautifully carved, though much less decorated than the Treasury, and so huge that even the doorway is several stories tall. Its name, like most Petra structures, does not reflect reality: it was probably a Nabatean temple.

History

Like the "Treasury," the name "Monastery" is a rather inaccurate nickname, which is probably based on its remote location and some inscribed crosses in the interior. Althought it may have been later used as a church (or even a hermitage), it was probably a temple. It may have been dedicated to the deified Nabatean king Obodas I, who reigned in the 1st century BC.

What to See

The Monastery is similar to design to the Treasury, but it is much larger (50 m high x 45m wide) and much less decorated. The facade is flat on the lower level and deeply carved on the upper level, with engaged columns and two half-pediments flanking a central urn (10m high).

The flat plaza in front was carved out of the rock, perhaps to accommodate crowds at religious ceremonies. It was originally surrounded by a colonnade. The interior consists of a single room with double staircases leading up to a niche (the same layout as in the Qasr al-Bint and the Temple of the Winged Lions).

On the left side of the facade, there is a very steep path that tourists are generally not permitted to climb, both for the safety of the monument and the visitors. It leads up to the urn on top of the facade. Local kids like to show off by playing on the urn, some even climbing it all the way to the top.

A cave located directly opposite the Monastery houses a small café offering refreshments and a shady place to sit and admire the monument. Other monuments in the area include a stone circle and a cave, and marvelous views can be had by a few minutes' climb up the rocks behind the café.

Getting There

The Monastery is an hour's climb northwest of the city center on an ancient rock-cut path of about 800 steps. The path begins behind the Basin Restaurant and Nabatean Museum.

It may sound daunting, but there areplenty of places to rest, and donkeys available to rent. Two-thirds up is a peaceful spring, and there are various other minor points of interest along the way, such as the Lion Triclinium.

The best time to climb to the monastery is in the afternoon, when the path is mostly in shade and the sun is shining on the Monastery's facade.


Quick Facts on the The Monastery

Site Information
Names:al-Deir; Monastery; Monastery, Petra
City:Petra
Country:Jordan
Categories:Temples
Faiths:Nabatean
Styles:Nabatean
Dates:1st C BCE
Status:ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Petra, Jordan
Coordinates:30.348352° N, 35.437753° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the The Monastery

Below is a location map and aerial view of the The Monastery. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. The Rough Guide to Jordan, 2nd ed.
  2. Lonely Planet Jordan, p. 197.
  3. Petra - Wikipedia

More Information

Article Info

Title:The Monastery, Petra
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:08/06/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/jordan/petra-monastery/jordan/petra
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/jordan/petra-monastery/jordan/petra">The Monastery, Petra</a>