Crossing the Jordan Rift Valley, we headed to Petra for the final leg of our journey across Jordan. An ancient, scenic route through rugged wadis (Arabic for ‘valley’) and towering mountains. We drove into the night for approximately two to three hours from Aqaba. Navigating through the thick darkness reminded me of life, at times dark but just enough light to guide the way. Although filled with a sense of isolation and trepidation, we make our way through the unknown along steep, ancient slopes.
We spent the night at the Old Village Resort in Wadi Musa, a cozy stone hotel situated on the hill. Wadi Musa or ‘Valley of Moses’ is a small village just outside the gates of the ancient city of Petra.
On to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Petra – the fascinating ancient city in southern Jordan – to explore the staggeringly beautiful Rose City with its red-tinged ruins.
Traveling on foot is an ancient practice as old as this city. Most people make their way down the narrow canyon (Al Siq) by foot but you also have the option of a Bedouin horse cart. We embraced the experience by foot.
The ancient Nabatean city of Petra is accessed via this dim, narrow canyon/gorge that ends at the magnificent grandeur of The Treasury (Al Khazneh), the famous structure that is 45m-high, a temple with an ornate, Greek-style facade.
The Treasury is remarkably preserved. If you look at the face of the structure just behind the pillars, you’ll see how it has been marked by many bullet holes made by the local Bedouin tribes. It was once rumored that The Treasury held riches within it and of course, man being man, tried to uncover these riches.
Above is a photo of The Treasury taken as we arrived. The photo below was taken later in the day after our extensive walk around the ancient city.
Some history courtesy of Wikivoyage, “Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. After Saladin’s conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.
The ruins remained hidden to most of the world until the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812. Burckhardt’s accounts of his travels inspired other Western explorers and historians to discover the ancient city further. The most famous of these was David Roberts, a Scottish artist who created a number of accurate and detailed illustrations of the city in 1839.
The first real excavations of the site were in 1929 after the forming of Trans-Jordan. Since that time, Petra has become by far Jordan’s largest tourist attraction, partially due to the exposure by the Steven Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in 1989.”
It is believed that Petra holds a special place in Biblical prophecy. Apparently, Petra will be Israel’s secret hiding place of the Jewish remnant during the last half of the tribulation.
Since 1985, Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the New7Wonders of the World – “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.”
There are vendors and small shops all around Petra offering a variety of souvenirs, jewelry, food and drink, sweets and spices as well as artificial coins supposedly from the Roman or Nabatean era.
I found Jordanian people very friendly and hospitable. This gentleman kindly agreed for me to take his picture after we bought an item or two from his little stall.
The Monastery (Mount Al Deir) is high and hidden in the hills.
You can also view its beautiful Hellenistic facade when you stop to relax and enjoy a cup of tea at the cave tea shop opposite the Monastery.
You’re bound to encounter the Jack Sparrows of Petra sporting their kohl eyeliner and red scarves. They are Bidouls / Bedouin gypsies and are real flirts aka the ‘Bedouin romance scammers’. They are masters of deception so to avoid getting into a tourist scam, simply respond to their persistent sales calls with ‘La Shukran’ (Arabic for ‘no thanks’) and walk-on … pa’lante!
I would definitely return, if only to stock up on this Myrrh (Aramaic name). It’s divinely precious!
Petra is absolutely spectacular and beyond description. It’s definitely one of the top ten places to visit in one’s lifetime! After our marveling and ambling around Petra, we headed on to Wadi Rum for a Bedouin desert adventure.
We spent the night at Sun City Camp, well-known for its futuristic domes in the middle of the desert. Both breakfast and dinner in the desert were rich cultural experiences. We particularly enjoyed the sunset dinner comprised of delicious traditional Jordanian cuisine. Most enjoyable, from the music to the underground Bedouin BBQ to the hospitable atmosphere.
After breakfast, we traversed the vast, echoing landscape of Wadi Rum.