Petra, Jordan – the Jebel Attuf trail – via the Monumental Lion 2

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.

Jebel Attuf, Petra, Jordan

The geography of Petra. NOTE: you do not see this view of the Jebel Attuf trail.  Photo credit: Benjamin White

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.

Wadi Farasa

Tombs, Jebel Attuf, Petra, Jordan

Photo credit: Benjamin White

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

Tombs, Jebel Attuf, Petra, Jordan

Photo credit: Benjamin White

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

Jebel Attuf, Petra, Jordan

Photo credit: Benjamin White

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.

Tomb of Roman Soldier, Jebel Attuf, Petra, Jordan

Photo credit: Benjamin White

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

Jebel Attuf, Petra, Jordan

Photo credit: Benjamin White

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).

Jebel Attuf

Jebel Attuf, Petra, Jordan

Photo credit: Benjamin White

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:

The Nabataean city of Petra is accessed from the new city of Wadi Musa, a 4 hour drive (250 km) from Amman, the capital of Jordan. More transport info here.

Read more on Petra in the UNESCO World Heritage listing.

More on Petra:

Al Siq: narrow, magical chasm leading to Al Khazneh

The Outer Siq, the Street of Facades, and the Royal Tombs

Ad Deir: the monastery?

More on Jordan:

Jerash – best-preserved Roman city outside of Italy

Amman – 12,000 yr old city, Moloch, Ammonites, Philadelphia

Posts on the Middle East:


Dakhmeh-ye Zartoshtiyun, Yazd – Zoroastrian tower of silence

Tomb of Cyrus the Great, Pasargadae


Jibreen Castle – fortified palace of the Yaruba dynasty

Muscat – beautiful city, but don’t expect locally-grown grapes


Doha – city under construction


Pamukkale – chalk white cliffs, turquoise pools 

Istanbul – the transcontinental capital

More rock-cut architecture:

Kailasa Temple, Ellora Caves, India

Naqsh-e Rustam, Iran – unearthly cliff tombs of the Achaemenid emperors

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, Colombia

Lycian tombs, Fethiye, Turkey

The Moai Quarry archaeological site, Easter Island, Chile

Rock sculpture of Decebalus, Romania – the last king of Dacia

or visit my rock-cut architecture page.

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2 thoughts on “Petra, Jordan – the Jebel Attuf trail – via the Monumental Lion

  • Karen White

    What an incredibly amazing place. How wonderful it must have been to see it all!! Carving out those tombs out of the rock is hard to imagine. It must have been good to wander around without too many tourists – good job finding that track.