Did you think we were done with Jordan after one desert glamping trip? Well,
think again, because we’re now going to Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of
In ancient Greek, Petra means “stone” and it is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Seriously that water conduit system is amazing. You can ask my friend, Lina the Travel Agent. Her husband is an engineer and he LOVES telling you about the water conduit system because it is AMAZING.. He will also tell you that experiencing sunrises and sunsets at Petra are spectacular with the effect of the rose colored colored stone. And that would apply to why it's also called Rose City - that stone is incredibly beautiful!
To get to the start of the city, you have to go through a gorge called the Siq ("shaft”), which is a little less than 1 mile long. It’s rather narrow - in some spots only 10–13 ft wide. But then, that’s what made the ancient Nabateans such great warriors. They knew how to protect an entrance. It’s believed that they settled there as early as 9,000 BC and who were, unlike their enemies, accustomed to living in the barren deserts, and particularly skillful inharevsting rainwater (see above). But they were also unbelievable at agriculture and stone carving in this environment. Beautiful - and we’re just getting started…..
At the end of the narrow gorge we found Petra's most famous ruin, the Treasury. Yes - that same one from the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie. It’s a pretty dramatic entrance as you approach. I didn’t get the T.E. Lawrence (conqueror; see post on glamping) effect, but I still got the goosebumps effect for its sandstone rose beauty.
Let’s pause for a moment before we head to the “city” in the valley beyond the Treasury. There seem to be numerous opportunities to help the local economy here. Anywhere (or any elevation) you’ll find Bedouins and their wares. It must have taken numerous amount of trips to carry those carved marble animals to some of those spots. Now I have to wonder who buys them here and then carries them around while you're miles up??? Check your prices at the bottom beforehand and maybe that will give us a clue?
A little ways from the Treasury (about 2 miles further), where the valley opens out into the plain, you can see the city and it’s amazing! And, yes, you have to do this if you get to Petra. Don’t just stop your trip at the Treasury. Bring your good walking shoes - It’s worth it!!
Now lets head to the “Monastery” and get some absolutely gorgeous views as we travel - UP. For…. miles. Actually it was 850 steps (or 50 stories) later that we made it to the Monastery (way past the Treasury - and, yes, I was dying at the end) But, OH MY, the views were SO WORTH IT! It’s not as pretty colore stone as the Treasury, but it is absolutely so massive in size to behold. Just look at how little the people look at the door of the temple and you can see what I mean. And as you look, you can also wonder how did they do all these carvings? Brilliant - I have to investigate this further…….
But why do they call it The Monastery? It’s Petra's largest monument and dates from the 1st century BC. It was dedicated to the ruler Obodas I and is believed to be the symposium of Obodas the god.
But now we’re looking at the time and noticing that it's getting close to the end of the day. The Better Half and I accurately realize we are in danger of making a serious mistake. We had taken our time and we were approaching dusk at the farthest end of Petra - which means night, follows, right? Can you imagine going back through the Siq in the dark? I’m sure our local Nabateans would have been glad to rescue us, but I’m also sure it would have cost us plenty when you have no choice. BUT, we DID have a choice now so we eventually chose to hire the local transportation for the sake of expediency. They say you can ride them for “free” but trust me, if they had fine print, this is it - nothing is actually free. You’ll be expected to tip at the end of the ride. So we hired the horses knowing it would cost us.
BUT it seems I insulted them by only tipping $10 for the 1/2 mile ride that we finally took (isn’t that a good price?? I really want to know). I was ready to stand my ground, but the Better Half “rescued” me and gave them more. What would have happened? I don’t know but the Better Half was not with me on this one. (Also - he was well aware the the path back was UPHILL. I think I married a smart guy….)
Fortunately, our hotel was directly at the entrance to the Siq - a fantastic location! And a pretty good hotel by all standards which means it had a cocktail lounge. And not just any kind of cocktail lounge. The lounge is contained in a cave and the cave itself was originally built as a tomb by the Nabataean people around 100 A.D. But don’t worry about the tomb aura - this one is fun with rough textured sandstone walls, rock columns, lanterns and little niches carved into the rock walls themselves with individual tables. Makes it a 5 star by my standards. Make a note - Petra Guest House Hotel is a very good place to stay.
“Nobody knows how old Petra is, but it was a thriving city when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, and for a full five thousand years it has had but that one entrance, through a gorge that narrows finally until only one loaded camel at a time can pass. Army after army down the centuries have tried to storm the place, and failed, so that even the invincible Alexander and the Romans had to fall back on the arts of friendship to obtain the key. We, the last invaders, came as friends, if only Grim could persuade the tyrant to believe it.
The sun rose over the city just as we reached the narrowest part of the gut, Grim leading, and its first rays showed that we were using the bed of a watercourse for a road. Exactly in front of us, glimpsed through a twelve-foot gap between cliffs six hundred feet high, was a sight worth going twice that distance, running twice that risk, to see—a rose-red temple front, carved out of the solid valley wall and glistening in the opalescent hues of morning.
Not even Burkhardt, who was the first civilized man to see the place in a thousand years, described that temple properly; because you can’t. It is huge—majestic—silent—empty—aglow with all the prism colors in the morning sun. And it seems to think.” ― Talbot Mundy, The Lion of Petra