Included in the same UNESCO World Heritage listing, Little Petra is a separate, smaller archeological complex that was once a suburb of the larger city of Petra.
As you enter Little Petra you will immediately notice how it got its nickname of Siq al-Barid, meaning “Cold Canyon.” Its angle and steep narrow sides means not much sunlight enters the siq, providing a relatively cool escape from the desert sun.
Built by the Nabateans, Little Petra is believed to date back to the 1st century. This is where the merchants on the Silk Route came to trade their wares with the locals.
Before you enter the first narrow stretch of siq, one of Little Petra’s most impressive façades stands just to your right. Stop and take in the intricate rock carvings as you walk along the canyon. Look up to your left as the siq opens up to see what was possibly a temple. Also situated here are triclinia, or dining halls, where merchants once would once dined. Carefully climb the ancient stairs leading up to several rocky platforms along the way to get an overview.
Farther along you will notice another set of steps leading up to the Painted House. Stand beside the metal grill that protects the opening to look up at the remnants of elaborate paintings. Depicting animals and religious symbology, these detailed murals are something truly special.
Imagine how spring water would have once flowed through the siq, filling the cisterns built into the site. The Nabateans’s ability to control water was a very important aspect of the city’s ability to flourish in the desert. Finish off by climbing the stairs at the end of the siq for a final, dramatic view of the surrounding hills.
Little Petra is located a few miles to the north of Wadi Musa and can be reached on foot, by taxi or on a tour. A rocky hiking trail connects Little Petra to The Monastery on the hill in Petra itself.