As visitors walk through the narrow fissure known as the Siq, a sense of mystery and anticipation builds. This canyon-like corridor, partly natural and partly sculpted by the Nabataeans, serves as the main entrance to the ancient city of Petra, and the 3/4-mile (1.2-kilometer) path ranks among the most memorable elements of any visit.
While it resembles a canyon, the Siq was actually formed when tectonic forces split the mountain in two. It begins at a dam built in 1963 atop a Nabataean dam from the first century. Remains of a monumental arch can still be seen at the entrance to the passage. As it winds through sandstone, the walls tower as high as 500 feet (150 meters) and the path narrows to a mere 7 feet (2 meters) in some places.
While many a visitor rushes through the Siq, anxious for that first glimpse of Petra, it’s well worth savoring the walk and taking in all the details added to the natural rent by the Nabataeans. For example, water channels were carved into both sides of the Siq, allowing residents of the ancient city to draw in water from Wadi Musa.
Get your camera ready! As the Siq narrows toward its end, it frames a sunlit slice of the Treasury.