Today was the main reason I chose to visit Jordan (although I enjoyed every bit of this country now that I have seen it) and we got to the gate of Petra at 8am to spend an entire day exploring. Petra has been names as one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World” even though it was first built in the 3rd century BC. Since I was a teenager I have wanted to visit Petra upon seeing Indiana Jones come out of a canyon and in view of this three story, beautiful building carved into the rock in The Last Crusade.
The building you see in the movie is called the Treasury and is the most dramatic since it is one of the largest, best preserved ruins and you really do come out of the canyon
(called The Sig) right in front of it. What I did not know until I got there was Petra was a full blown capital city of the Nabataeans Empire. As you walk along the valley, with cliffs on either side hundreds of feet tall, you will see tons of caves that served as homes and buildings literally carved into the red sandstone cliffs that were tombs and religious sites. There is so much to see it is hard to figure out where to start. With that said here is what we did that worked well for us.
First off we walked all the way through the entire site past the restaurant in the middle and climbed up to the Monastery. This building is just as good as the Treasury but without the crowd or locals
hawking camel and donkey rides (NEVER ride these as they are not treated well at all). Plus it will be tomorrow’s “Photo of the Day”, which you can see by LIKING me on Facebook or FOLLOWING me on Instagram (I know a shameless plug, but what is a guy to do? 🙂 )
From here we walked back down and then I hiked up another cliff while Melek sat and rested. This time I went up to the High Place of Sacrifice leaving from the restaurant and coming back down near the Roman Theater. This hike was great as I got away from the crowds and saw lots more amazing tombs carved into the red sandstone and house caves everywhere. The highlights were the Garden Tomb, the Lion Fountain, the stairs that went straight up the cliff,
and of course the High Place of Sacrifice at the very top. All of this took me about two hours.
Once back together we walked 20 minutes to the spring, but were both disappointed and do not recommend it. Once back at the restaurant (it is so convenient with it’s central location, but the prices were way too high…you can get the same from some of the locals in the site at a third the cost) we hiked to the Royal Tombs via the Byzantine era church (this is the covered area and was only ok). The Royal Tombs on the other hand are 6-9 impressive buildings carved into the cliff face and you can walk into each of them if you like, although you will be disappointed since almost everyone is simply a large rectangular room.
On the way out we gazed at sites we passed in the morning like the Grand Temple and Roman Theater. All in all, we figured we were at Petra for a total of 10 hours and really got to see the city. That night we went to dinner where our taxi driver, Anwar, recommended (he is great and if you are here contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now I am going to turn the blog over to Melek, so she can share her thoughts on the day. But first I want to let you know on Tuesday we will write about Wadi Rum, a remote desert area that Lawrence of Arabia worked out of. This is somewhere I really intrigued me, but I keep the details to a minimum so Melek would be surprised. 😉
Melek – Today we went to Petra again to see it during the day. It was then I realized how beautiful and big the whole city was. We needed to climb the stairs to go to the Monastery, which I was told by Shane was only 150 stairs and found out later that it was actually 800 :). I really do not like climbing and jumping kinds of things but I am open to experiencing new things and I think Shane was the best person to show me these experiences (I guess him not telling me the stairs beforehand helped me not having any prejudices).
We did climb up to the Monastery and even further to one of the “best views” to see the amazing vista. There were not many people climbing up which made me be proud of myself. On the way we were seeing caves, tombs and a beautiful view of Wadi Musa (the nearby town).
The funny part was on the way up people were supporting us by saying, you’re halfway, keep going, and you’re almost there… Of course on the way down we said it to a couple of people as well. 🙂
Petra definitely deserves to be in the 7 new wonders of world!
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