: views from the Hill

Monday, March 31, 2008

What I didn't know about the rose red city of Petra

I knew Petra would be stunning. I'd seen pictures.

And probably hot.

I didn't know much else about it.

I do now. (Oh, for the day when I'll travel with my handy-dandy Web and find answers to my questions as they pop up instead of waiting until I get home to research.)

When I write up my notes with my pictures (all 130+ of them), I'll weave the research into what I saw and what I was told.

What surprised me most about Petra and what was totally unexpected was how stunning Petra would've been in its own right, without the caves and carvings. The setting is amazing. The sandstone is swirls of color. As a natural wonder, Petra would've been on the map.


Alight at the parking lot and walk a ways to the crack in the wall and enter al Siq. ... or ride a horse or grab a two-wheeled cart ...

As the way in is down, we were encouraged to ride the horse on the way back, if ride a horse was on the agenda, and it seemed it was, by golly. We were told we'd already paid for a horse ride and might as well take it. (Tip the horse handler $2 or 3 Jordanian dinars, but tip him at the end of your ride, if you don't want to be dropped off prematurely, we were also advised.)

How did someone ever find that crack in the wall in the days before Petra was "built"? No aerial reconnaissance to give you a heads-up that there might be something interesting if you walked down this narrow path. ... A curious, wandering someone must have headed down the path to see what there was to see.

Find the crack in the sandstone cliffs and walk down the path, through the narrow gorge with steep walls, through al Siq. These days the path is worn and crazy Bedouin drivers in horse-drawn carriages careen down the track, in a hurry to drop off their passengers and turn around and pick up more.


Forty-five years ago a flash flood trapped and drowned folk in this narrow gorge. Since then work has been done -- a dam blocks a side gorge and diverts the water -- to avoid a repeat. Not a cloud in the sky, though, so no worries.

Look up and see the cracks through the walls caused by earthquakes. Take pictures of the small carvings in the walls and then round a bend and there it is: the Khazneh, the Treasury, the first seen and most photographed/pictured building of Petra, carved into the sandstone walls many many moons ago. Worn after all these years, damaged by man and by earthquake. Still spectacular. Beautiful

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Walk further and you enter the Wadi Musa, the wide open area of Petra with more carved buildings and spaces, the marketplace, the amphitheatre, tombs, places to climb and, of course, opportunities to buy trinkets and postcards and water. Tea, sodas, even a buffet lunch are available to keep your strength up.

More pictures to follow. Yes, 130-plus.

Beautiful. What an amazing site to see.

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