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Friday, July 01, 2011


camels in Petra Jordan
I really like this!!!  But I did take this photo in Petra.

It doesn’t get much better than Petra, Jordan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and now considered one of the wonders of the ancient world. I cannot begin to post photos until I try to convey a portion of Petra’s timeline and history. Where we walk and what we see takes us to a time beyond our ken.

Petra Jordan
modern Petra--building and attracting many tourists

Here is a city dating back to 6,500-7,000 BCE, and evidence of that ancient community can still be examined! By the Iron Age, Petra was inhabited by the Edomites, but the real building of this great city was done by the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab tribe impressed by the high protective canyons and the ample water supply that could be directed from above the city through channels and tunnels into cisterns to give the city life, so much life that it grew great as part of the major trade route linking China with Rome. A literate people, they left us calligraphy on the walls as a reminder of their civilization.

ancient calligraphy in Petra Jordan

Rome eventually annexed Petra, introduced Christianity to the area, and there is evidence of at least three churches.

Petra Jordan

Petra was so fiercely guarded and lost to the Western world after the 15th century that it was only “re-discovered” in 1812 by a Swiss traveler posing as an Arab coming to offer a sacrifice to the prophet Aaron. The world is the benefactor of that deception.

Petra Jordan

To reach the major part of the ancient city, we walk more than half a mile downhill to and then through The Siq, a narrow .6 mile long gorge flanked by tall cliffs. The rock formations are enchanting and colorful as if some painter of nature exercised every color in his palette.

end of the Siq in Petra Jordan
a horse-drawn cart bringing visitors back up through the Siq

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan

We pass tombs and monuments, but we are not prepared for the magnificent sight of The Treasury, an incredible façade carved into the mountains and whose decorations indicate that it was carved from the bottom to the top. Treasury is the modern name.

Out of the Siq in Petra Jordan

The Treasury in Petra Jordan

Was it a memorial? A temple? No one knows. What every visitor does know, however, is that this is awesome, a sight that causes one’s jaw to drop in wonder. Think of it--an ancient people using the rudimentary tools of their age to sculpt detail and beauty that we can enjoy THOUSANDS OF YEARS later.

Fans of Indiana Jones might recognize the façade from the final scenes of the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Experiencing the full wonder of Petra requires three or four days. We had a scant few hours, and my walk downhill had to be followed by another mile or so uphill, so with sad resignation I did not venture much further into the city. Rob, however, continued to walk and saw some cliff dwellings and other monuments and buildings carved into the cliffs’ walls.

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan

I walked back up the Siq, but seized the opportunity to ride a horse for some distance. Wow! An Arabian stallion! Not quite I think by the looks of him, but he was beloved by me.

Wendy in Petra Jordan

After dismounting, I still had a way to go uphill to the Jordanian tour bus, but it had been a glorious visit! Once again I was transported back in time, awed by ancient man’s accomplishments. I walked in his footsteps and on his roadways and was touched in a way I will never forget.

Off the record, there were carts to bring people back uphill, but it looked like an incredibly jarring ride over the rocks and cobblestones. I had the feeling the drivers enjoyed messing with the tourists!

cart in Petra Jordan

Camel rides were available.

Petra Jordan

It is important to know that Petra requires significant walking, and a lot of it is uphill. And it is hot.

Depending how one looks at it, there are the ubiquitous memento shops.  See anything tempting?

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan

As we drive back through the modern city of Petra, we see men, women, and children going about their daily business. We see the mixture of old and new as this city grows and changes to meet the onslaught of tourists. New hotels are springing up everywhere as are homes and roads and new sidewalks with trees beautifying them.

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan's children

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan's women

We stop at Petra’s Magic Restaurant for a late lunch. It is a marvelous Jordanian smorgasbord. Then I doze on the long ride back to the border.

My advice—if you are in this part of our world, don’t pass up a chance to visit Petra. Bring your camera, good walking shoes, a walking stick, and a few bottles of water.

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