Wadi Musa, Jordan
Wadi Musa (Valey of Moses), located in Southern Jordan, is the town closest to the Petra Archeological Park. Visitors will have an easy time exploring Petra because of its vicinity to Wadi Musa, and the town itself boasts various restaurants, numerous hotels, and tourist attractions. Because Petra, being an archeological park, has no lodging of its own, Wadi Musa is the nearest town where you can stay while visiting Petra. Tourists are the heart of Wadi Musa, which is dependent on visitors of Petra to fuel its economy. It has everything a tourist would need - food, souvenirs, comfortable accommodation, and pleasant locals.
How did Wadi Musa get its name? It comes from the story of Moses, the prophet, who traversed through this valley. Nearby this valley lies the place where Moses is said to have struck the rock, from which water began to flow after his strike. The place is called "Ain Musa" which means Moses' Spring. Presently, a building with three domes, located on top of a hill, protects this remarkable rock. Owing to its location, Wadi Musa was also known as the "Guardian of Petra".
It is thought that Wadi Musa has had inhabitants for as long as Petra, going back thousands of years. Archeologists have found evidence there of a Nabataean palace and Roman bath system. Presently, a number of tribes reside in this town and there is also a Bedouin settlement nearby.
Coming to Wadi Musa
The hills which tower over the valley are the home of Wadi Musa. It seems as if its buildings, the color of caramelized sugar, had sprouted naturally from the desert which surrounds it. As the sun begins to set, it illuminates the buildings with the warm colors of brown, gold, and cream. Flowing through the streets, the echo of the Adhan calling Muslims to prayer, coming from the mosque’s minaret only amplifies the exotic feeling. Wadi Musa is a town where you will mostly see contemporary architecture, signs in English and local merchants offering their goods. Traditional life is, however, still present, and you will be able to see it in the local mosque or the historic quarter of Elgee, for example.
The main road, 4 kilometers long, which goes downhill towards Petra's entrance, gives you an extensive view of Petra. On both sides of the road residential areas can be found, while the center of town is near the middle of the main road. Going down the main road, there is a Tourist Strip which consists of many hotels, restaurants and cafes, which all look at the valley. If you continue down the tourist strip, you will see the Petra Visitor Center, the ticket office, and also the entrance to Petra.
Things to explore in Wadi Musa
Before of after sightseeing Petra, Wadi Musa is perfect for having a break or just relaxing. There are various things to do for those who love to explore local culture: for example, you can have a smoke at a shisha bar, or, if you're a foodie, try things from the traditional menu. If you're into cooking, you could even try participating in a Bedouin cooking class. Want to relax? Then soak in the Turkish bath or have a massage. After that, you can make tours to the Bedouin camps or the nearby desert. Although the attractions aren't unlimited, they are unique, as there is an Irish Pub and a pub inside an actual cave which is 2,000 years old, called the Cave Bar. There is also a war memorial which you can see while walking through the town, and you will also notice locals and vendors displaying souvenirs and trinkets for sale on the street.