Why climb Jebel Attuf? Why spend your valuable time at the Nabataean city of Petra climbing this local peak when it can only offer lesser-known tombs?
How about because the trek to Jebel Attuf receives just a fraction of the tourists of the main sites (such as Al Khazneh and Ad Deir), and if you are someone who doesn’t enjoy the bustling and jostling of mass tourism (Petra receives up to 5,000 tourists a day at its peak) then this trail is a great way to feel the majesty of the site minus the crowds.
The Jebel Attuf trail starts in the Outer Siq, and it ends near the Column of the Pharoah in the centre of Petra. Doing the hike in this direction means a steep climb at the outset, followed by a comparatively gentle descent.
I’ve done the hike in reverse (i.e. starting at the Column of the Pharoah and ending at the Outer Siq), for no reason other than that it was convenient to me on the day.
It’s worth exploring the rocky escarpment around Wadi Farasa before starting the trail as this area is replete with tombs and natural caves (and there are plenty of not-so-natural caves as well). Most of these caves are of unknown make and purpose.
One of the many caves in this area is the one captured in the photo above. Those with an active imagination will quickly liken its image to that of a haunting, mask-like face.
Tomb of Al Najr
A 5-10 minute walk from Wadi Farasa (the gorge in which the Jebel Attuf hike begins) is the Tomb of Al Najr, about which little is known.
If you have time on your hands then I definitely recommend a stroll here, otherwise there is a fairly similar tomb (see pic below) that you’ll encounter on the Jebel Attuf trail itself.
Tomb of the Roman Soldier
It’s time to enter the ravine known as Wadi Farasa and begin your journey to the top of Jebel Attuf.
You’ll soon be passing a couple of notable tombs, namely the Tomb of the Split Pediment, and the Tomb of the Renaissance.
But the best of the lot is the Tomb of the Roman Soldier.
Three statues decorate the tomb. The middle is thought to represent a high ranking Roman solider. The statues on either side of him are thought to be his children.
The tomb is dated to the 2nd Century BCE.
Monument of the Lion
Once upon a time this would have been an incredible fountain. Water would have gushed from the mouth of the lion, leaving the passing traveller in stunned awe.
As you can see the fountain is no longer functional. One of the benefits (if you can call it that) of the severe degradation of the statue is that it allows you to see how the magic was done (i.e. you can see the channel in the rock that directed water to the fountain).
Congratulations! You’ve reached the high point of the Jebel Attuf trail.
Here you’ll find two rock-cut obelisks, and several rock-cut altars – some of these altars are thought to have been used for animal sacrifices.
There is also a rather stunning view over the Royal Tombs.
Practical information and how to reach Jebel Attuf:
Read more on Petra in the UNESCO World Heritage listing.
More on Petra:
More on Jordan:
Posts on the Middle East:
More rock-cut architecture:
or visit my rock-cut architecture page.