DSCF0219 (2) (1024x368)1) the Monastery – the hike up the mountain to its site used to be an important pilgrimage route (double-click the photo to open the full view)


That’s my enduring memory of visiting Petra. The memory is apropos as the ancient Nabataean city, which controlled the caravan trade, is know as the ‘rose city’. And rose – in its various shades – is what strikes you as you wander the city. We arrived early in the morning after an overnight stay at the Petra Marriott Hotel and were met by our guide. We then wandered the day through the marvellous city exploring, of course, its famous kilometer long entrance way called As-Siq; the Al-Khazneh (the mis-named Treasury) made famous for its appearance in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade film; the amphitheatre and made the long, hot hike up the 800 rock-cut stairs to Ad-Deir (the Monastery).

The city was essentially ‘lost’ after the departure of the Crusaders in the 14th century and was only rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. But its history is thousands of years long. It was mentioned in the Bible and likely was an active centre of trade as early as the 6th century BCE. The Nabataeans were – originally – an Arab tribe that arrived in the area of present day Jordan from the Arabian Peninsula some 2200 years ago. There they built Petra and ruled with Nabataean kings until the arrival of the Romans in c. 106AD. Even with the arrival of the Romans they continued to flourish because the Nabataeans were damn smart traders and built their city with endless motifs to those they traded with. So in Petra you’ll find monuments and building adored with Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian references. Smart lads these folks were eh! Petra was a cultural melting pot and the Nabataeans never believed in national exclusiveness but were very open to outside cultural influences. They could provide a good case study for many modern nations me thinks.

For its time too Petra was a marvel, crisscrossed with paved roads, agricultural terraces, water harvesting systems (which when you are there truly amazing to see and understand), artwork and temples, and, with its entrance buried deep within an impressive gorge, well fortified and protected.

IMG_3923 (765x1024)2) in the courtyard of the Petra Marriott Hotel

IMG_3924 wine (911x1024)3) we ordered this Jordanian chardonnay with dinner … it was just so-so

IMG_3925 (1024x765)4) the salad I ordered was delicious after a couple weeks of lamb and humus

IMG_3919 (2) (1024x765)5) sunrise from our room at the Marriott

DSC_0206 (2) (1024x685)6) Aaron’s Mountain (Arabic:  Jabal Harun), reputed site of the Tomb of Aaron, the brother of Moses, outside of Petra; the tip of the white dome you see is a mosque built in the 14th century

DSC_0208 (2) (1024x685)7) here is Petra! Honest, its entrance is that black opening you see to the right centre of the picture

DSC_0207 (2) (685x1024)8) here’s a zoomed in look at the entrance to the Siq

DSC_0217 (2) (534x1024)9) our guide and G head in – to the left you can see the elevated channel that carried water  into the city; another channel on the other side carried out wastewater

DSC_0225 (2) (685x1024)10) inside the Siq

DSC_0230 (2) (685x1024)11) here you can see the channel again decorated with human figures long since lost to time and erosion

DSC_0227 (685x1024)12) here the Siq widens for a bit and you can see the cobblestones; the Siq is lined with many baetyli and cubby holes for baetyli; these were sacred stones (often meteorites) which were believed to be endowed with life and, we think, were a central part of Nabataean religious practice

IMG_3913 (2) (765x1024)13) G experiences the Indiana Jones moment; seeing the Treasury for the first time!

DSC_0239 (2) (685x1024)14) moi in front of the Treasury (which was actually a tomb not a treasury) carved in the 1st century BCE; its entrance way is flanked by statues of the twins Castor and Pollux

DSC_0240 (2) (1024x685)15) detail of the top of the Treasury (double-click and open) to see (on top) four eagles that would carry away the souls; below them are figures of dancing Amazons with double-axes 

DSC_0241 (2) (1024x752)16) detail of one of the columns

DSC_0243 (2) (685x1024)17) looking back towards the exit of the Siq where it opens into the courtyard of the Treasury; this area is a real zoo with tourists and Jordanians selling camel and donkey rides further into the city

DSC_0248 (2) (1024x685)18) a picture of the Street of Facades taken from a secret vantage point our guide led us to (this area was off-limits to tourists but we ventured there with him anyway); the street is essentially lined with tombs for wealthy Petra citizens

DSC_0249 (2) (1024x685)19) looking north towards the Colonnaded Street (on left) the mountain which has the Monastery on top of it

DSC_0250 (2) (1024x685)20) the amphitheatre taken again from high above the Street of Facades

DSC_0255 (2) (1024x685)21) wandering off the beaten track with our guide brought us to these tombs for wealthy Petra citizens

DSC_0257 (2) (1024x685)22) the marbling is beautiful eh!

DSC_0260 (2) (1024x685)23)the Temenos Gate at the end of the Colonnaded Street

DSCF0218 (2) (1024x768)24) the temple (on left) is Qasr al-Bint, erected in the 1st century BCE by King Obodas III

IMG_3915 (2) (765x1024)25) heading up the 800 stairs to the Monastery

IMG_3917 (2) (765x1024)26) G continues to go up … the pathway is spotted with many Bedouin traders who try to sell you everything under the sun

DSC_0277 (2) (1024x685)27) Ad-Deir (the Monastery)

DSC_0293 (2) (1024x685)28) the monastery was built in the 2nd century BCE into the sandstone but its statutes never were finished

DSC_0298 (2) (685x1024)29) a Bedouin heads to the entrance to the Monastery

DSC_0305 (2) (1024x685)30) and takes a break – this gives you a sense of just how big that doorway is

DSC_0292 (2) (1024x685)31) the Jordanian flag flies above the Monastery

DSC_0282 (2) (1024x685)32) looking west from the Monastery into the desert

DSC_0294 (2) (1024x685)33) even the goats were looking for shade as it was SO hot

DSC_0309 (2) (1024x685)34) G heads back down to the Colonnaded Street from the Monastery

DSC_0308 (2) (685x1024)35) people were still climbing up as we headed down late in the afternoon

DSC_0314 (2) (1024x685)36) here you can see how the pathway has several switchbacks

DSC_0315 (2) (1024x685)37) seems the goats where following us

DSC_0322 (2) (1024x538)38) before leaving we climbed up to the Urn Tomb; this is its interior. It is believed that either King Aretas IV (9 BCE.-AD 40) or King Malichus II (AD 40-70) were laid to rest here

DSC_0324 (2) (685x1024)39) G jumps for joy

DSC_0325 (2) (685x1024)40) moi enjoying the view from Urn Tomb

DSC_0335 (2) (685x1024)41) on the way out of the Siq very much happy to have visited and looking forward to a good shower to cool off

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Petra

  1. christao408 says:

    What a fascinating place! The marbling effects are particularly beautiful.

  2. This is nice. I almost felt like I was in a National Geographic article. I’m not sure I could survive the heat but after the recent cold wave here, it might be nice.

Comments are closed.