One of the reasons I wanted to go to Jordan was to visit the ancient city of Petra and I was not disappointed. It is a remarkable site and I would recommend anyone to see it for themselves, not just at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! My guide, Omar, was a wealth of information and he took me and my fellow travellers to a site known as Little Petra first. (Thanks Omar, this was truly a memorable day.)
Little Petra is where the Nabatean people lived and worked over 2000 years ago. They were a nomadic tribe who settled in Jordan and were incredible builders, architects and engineers.
In Little Petra I walked through a steep gorge where, cut into the rock face, are large, square rooms in which the Nabateans lived. Sadly these bare rooms are now blackened with soot, but once were beautifully decorated with frescoes. The wooden doors are gone, but from the outside the frames are decorated, the columns similar to the Doric style of architecture. The Nabateans were keen to learn from other cultures and assimilate that knowledge into their own therefore there is a great deal of Greek architecture to be seen.
Stairways, again cut into the sand coloured rock, lead up to rooms higher up, but I didn’t venture into these! I stood at the foot of the gorge and marvelled at the changing colours as the sun beat down, the heat dissipated by a cooling breeze.
Little Petra gave everyone a taste for what we were to see at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra, which is a religious site. I was surprised to learn that to reach the famous Treasury (or tomb of Aretas III and his family) I was to walk through a gorge for just over a kilometre. However, the Treasury is only the beginning of the site and I didn’t get to see it all.
On the way down through the gorge I was shown how the Nabateans provided the city with water. Channels from cisterns were carved into the rock face in a way that allowed rainwater to fall into the chute too. Water is incredibly precious in the desert and the engineering to provide this necessity is a wonder in itself.
Arriving at the Treasury is AMAZING. I’ve been to the pyramids, Niagara Falls and many other “Wonders of the World”, but Petra almost took my breath away. It really is unbelievable!
However the Treasury is only the starting point of this site and walking on there was other tombs built into the rock face, the entrances noticeable via columns and stair-like decoration.
A magnificent amphitheatre is built into the rock where official ceremonies were held and sacrifices made to the gods.
I was taken on a tour through history as the site was a conduit for trade used not only by the Nabateans, but by the Romans, the Chinese, north Africans, and many others.
There are a few Roman ruins left, but these were further on into the valley and I had to be back for my bus by the visitor’s centre so I turned around and made my way back, still marvelling at the many tombs carved into the rock face.
I was glad I’d chosen to go to Petra at the end of April as I was told it wasn’t too busy, but the area was animated with merchants selling their wares, young men offering rides on camels or horses, and tourists taking photos and videos. One young man explained that his horses were named William Shakespeare, Michael Jackson and Shakira, an eclectic mix, (rather like the architecture!)
Looking at a set of lithographs drawn in the mid1800s I could see that in the last two hundred years the onslaught of wind, sand and tourists has eroded details carved into the sandstone rock face and it is only a matter of time before this area is completely worn away. Engineers, geologists, scientists, I put to you this challenge: please find a way to stop this wonderful historic site from crumbling into dust as I’d hate for future generations only to see it in a Steven Spielberg movie.
Another amazing day was spent at Wadi Rum which was truly out of this world. Click on the link to read about the location of many sci-fi movies:
And the capital city, Amman, was a very interesting insight into Jordan. Please click on the link to learn more:
I concluded my visit to Jordan by the Dead Sea and learned a great deal more than expected. Please click on the link to discover more: