When you visit the Petra Archaeological Park, don’t miss the Temple of Qasr Al-Bint. It is one of the best preserved of Petra’s ancient structures; This unique monument has the largest facade in Petra, making it a popular photo op.
The Temple of Qasr al-Bint is one of the few free-standing structures in Petra that was not carved out of the sandstone cliffs. Qasr al-Bint is also known as the Temple of Dushara as it may have been dedicated to the important Nabataean god, Dushara.
The temple was built by the Nabataeans around 30 BC and dedicated to Nabataean gods. It was one of the most important Petra temples. It was built on a raised podium and originally stood 23 meters high. Qasr al-Bint had a grand marble staircase of 27 steps leading up to the entrance. Inside there was a vestibule, chamber, altar, and cella where the image of a god would have been placed. The structure was decorated with plaster and stone reliefs.
Pro Tip: You can see some of the reliefs that once adorned the Qasr al-Bint temple at the Petra Visitor Center. Experts think that this would have been Petra’s main place of worship and that the entire surrounding area would have been part of a religious complex. An enclosing wall would have encircled the complex and two inscriptions tell us that during king Aretas IV’s reign (9BC-40AD) seats were added.
Later the structure was repurposed by the Romans for cult worship and eventually it was destroyed in the 3rd century AD. Excavation of Qasr Al-BInt began in the late 50s and is still underway. Today we know this structure as Qasr Al-Bint or Qasr al-Bint al-Faroun, a name given to the structure by the local Bedouin meaning Castle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter. Legend has it that the pharaoh who chased the Israelites out of Egypt got tired of pursuing them and eventually settled in Petra. The legend is not based on facts but does make the Castle of the Daughter of Pharaoh a little more romantic.
This Petra temple lies almost at the end of the main trail through the Archaeological Park, northwest of the Great Temple and southwest of the Temple of the Winged Lions.
Pro Tip: The Basin, the only restaurant in Petra Archaeological Park is next to Qasr Al-Bint. The food is great, but it is a bit pricey.