When planning your visit to the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, starting your exploration from this location is highly recommended. It serves as an excellent prelude to your Petra visit, offering valuable insights into every aspect of what awaits you at the main Petra site. Accessible and manageable, it’s an ideal starting point for travelers who have more than a day to explore. Not advisable for those who are on a day trip to Petra.

Little Petra (Siq al-Barid)

Nestled within a rugged desert landscape, approximately 9 kilometers north of the iconic Petra, lies an archaeological site known as ‘Siq al-Barid (سيق البريد),’ often dubbed ‘Little Petra (البتراء الصغيرة‎)’ due to its striking resemblance to its grand counterpart. This lesser-known gem holds the charm of an ancient suburb of Petra, boasting a treasure trove of historical marvels, including tombs, temples, water channels, and cisterns masterfully carved into the rock, along with remnants of faded frescoes adorning plastered walls.

Rock cut tomb at the entrance of little Petra.
Siq al-Barid can be found about 8 kilometers to the north of the central area of Petra.

Siq al-Barid derives its poetic Arabic name, meaning ‘the cold shaft/canyon,’ from its unique topography – a high-walled, narrow canyon that barely permits sunlight to penetrate its depths. Stretching a mere 450 meters, the site offers a meandering path through alternating sections of varying width. It’s an integral part of the Petra Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, accessible separately and free of charge.

Historians and archaeologists believe that the inception of Little Petra traces back to the 1st century AD, during the zenith of the Nabataean culture. This enclave likely served as a bustling hub for Nabataean merchants, who were flourishing in the region during that era, offering shelter and entertainment for their visiting counterparts. Its proximity to the ancient settlement of Al Beidha, which dates back to the Neolithic period, adds another layer of historical significance to Little Petra.

However, as the Nabataean civilization waned, Siq al-Barid fell into abandonment. It became a silent witness to the passing centuries under the occasional watch of Bedouin nomads.

The sandstone formations showcase striking geological features, offering an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the region.

Explore an ancient Nabataean suburb

Siq al-Barid possesses its own unique charm and ambiance, distinct from the grandeur of Petra. Its smaller scale and fewer attractions should not deter you; the site exudes its own charm.

Much like Petra, Siq al-Barid features rock-cut tombs, temples, dining halls, caves, and water reservoirs.

Archaeologists believe the site served as a vital waystation for trading caravans traversing the Silk Road en route to Petra.

Siq al-Barid was inhabited during the prehistoric Neolithic era before the Nabataeans. The site has a rich and extensive historical background spanning thousands of years.

What truly mesmerizes visitors are the intricate sandstone carvings that adorn the dwellings within Siq al-Barid. Every column and facade bears the unmistakable mark of craftsmanship, so precise and exquisite that it’s difficult to fathom they were painstakingly created by hand some 2,000 years ago. These facades, far from appearing as rudimentary cave-like structures, stand as enduring testaments to the advanced skills of the artisans of their time.

The most fascinating aspect of these dwellings is the carvings into sandstone rocks.

Triclinium: Classical style Nabataean period tomb facade carved into the sandstone.
Inside one of the caves.

Stepping into Siq al-Barid is akin to embarking on a journey through history. The cool, shaded canyon walls seem to whisper the secrets of an era long past, making it an absolute must-visit for history enthusiasts and adventurers alike.

Unlike the bustling crowds often encountered at Petra, Siq al-Barid offers a more tranquil and peaceful environment.

Rock cut tomb at Little Petra

Inside one of the four triclinia at Siq al-Barid.

The term “triclinium” originated in ancient Rome and refers to a dining table surrounded by seating along three of its sides.

There are several temples with well-preserved stone staircases, providing an opportunity to get a glimpse of their interiors.

The canyon culminates with a steep flight of stone steps leading to a vantage point.
The site was used as a temporary dwelling by Bedouin nomads for centuries after the decline of the Nabataean civilization.
The remarkable rock-carved structures continue to amaze visitors, showcasing the craftsmanship of a bygone era.
Archaeological excavations have revealed various artifacts, including pottery and jewelry. These findings offer insights into the daily life and culture of the people who once lived here.

Stay updated

Receive email updates whenever a new story is published.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Fine Art and Travel Photography by Asif Naqvi

Photography is not just about capturing images; it’s a fascinating journey of exploration and observation that connects us with surrounding realities. It is the art of seeing, exploring, and imagining the world around us through a lens. I strongly believe in the ability of images to stimulate thoughts and evoke emotions. Each frame captures a moment in time and tells a story, allowing the viewer to become immersed in the visual narrative commonly known as storytelling.

It is all about seeing, observing, and making visual notes.

Having ventured into the realm of imagination, I stepped into the real world and discovered a newfound appreciation for nature. Grand landscapes, delicate flora, and fascinating fauna inspire me to see the world anew, with open eyes and heart.

As I make my way back to human civilization, I wander through diverse cultures and untrodden paths. I find inspiration in the essence of each place and its people. Travel photography, for me, is a way to connect with the soul of a destination.

My photography is not just an expression of my vision, but an invitation to see the world from a different angle.

I am always seeking fresh perspectives, hence pushing the boundaries of my art to capture those elusive moments that resonate deeply with my audience. My photography is not just an expression of my vision, but an invitation to see the world from a different angle, to find beauty in the seemingly mundane, and to appreciate the manners of our existence.

Join me on this artistic journey at, where we’ll embark on an adventure through images. They stir the spirit, ignite the imagination, and inspire a deeper appreciation for the marvels that surround us.

With boundless enthusiasm and a camera in hand,

⸻ Aksgar Asif Naqvi

Aks Gar ( عکس گر ): a Persian/Urdu compound word to describe an image maker or a photographer.

Explore the captivating world through the lens of Asif Naqvi with his fine art and travel photography.


Please feel free to reach out whether you have questions, feedback, or just want to say hello. You can use the contact form below to send a message directly.