On top of enjoying the ancient scenery in the historic city of Petra, tourists can now take in church services. 

In January of 2024 Archbishop Christoforus, a Greek Orthodox priest was the first to host a service, pray, and offer communion to fellow believers in the ancient city in 1,400 years. 

"It is a great blessing to be in this holy place in Petra," says Archbishop Christoforus. "We are not thinking of what surrounds us in stone, but of the saints and spiritual identity in its heritage, history, and civilization—and our great and blessed [Jordanian] homeland."

Petra has been the historic backdrop to many Hollywood movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeThe Mummy Returns, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

As it is so well known, Petra earns Jordan $5.3 billion in tourism with people flooding in to see the city carved into rock. In 2022, the ancient city had 900,000 people come to visit. 

In 2021 the country of Jordan started a five-year plan to help increase tourism with a focus on religious sites. This includes the pilgrimage locations of Jesus’ baptism at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan; Mount Nebo, from which Moses viewed the Promised Land; and Mukawir, home to a Herodian palace where John the Baptist may have been beheaded at the biblical Machaerus.

Ten hisotric churches have been discovered in the Petra area as excavators continue to search for more. 

"How can you have a historic church site and not bless it with prayer?" says David Rihani, president of the Jordanian Assemblies of God. "Petra shows that the government cares about the history of Christianity in this land."

While steeped in so much history including being the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom around the fourth century B.C., some historians believe that Petra is the place where Moses struck the rock that gushed water in Numbers 20.

Biblical researcher Martin Hengel insists that this area of Petra was actually the area in which Paul of the New Testament (previously Saul) had his first missionary journey. This is according to Scripture rather than any physical evidence. 

Tourists can access the oldest church, the late fourth-century Ridge Church, as well as the Blue Church to this day in the city of Petra. 

"There is an idea that to be authentically Arab you have to be Muslim," says Chris Dawson, a British assistant professor of historical theology at Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS). "Putting Petra on the map as an authentically Arab Christian city—however pluralistic it was—is an opportunity to show otherwise."