Yes, we all have seen Indiana Jones and the last crusade and admit it, everyone of us dreamed about visiting this place at least once in a lifetime. I was so obsessed with it that I planned our whole Egyptian-Israeli-Jordanian trip with Petra as a main point of the entire journey…
We actually got into Jordan from Egypt where we were based on the Red sea coast in Taba. The reason for that was cheaper accommodation comparing to Jordan. From there we booked a 2-day trip to Jerusalem and then to Petra. From Jerusalem we came to Eilat in the evening and right after we crossed Israeli-Jordanian border we were picked up by Jordanian drivers. These guys took us on their Jeeps fast and furious to Aqaba where we stayed overnight. As usual we didn’t stay in the hotel room very long and decided to go out and explore Aqaba. The one and only coastal city of Jordan is also biggest and most populated city in Aqaba bay. In present plays important role in country’s development thanks to strategic port and also thanks to booming trading business and tourism. After spending whole day sitting in the bus the evening walk was the best we could do and we enjoyed the atmosphere of Aqaba until the dawn.
Right after breakfast we finally went on our long-awaited trip to Petra. This time, however, we changed from bus to jeep because we booked an English-speaking guide in advance and it was a good decision. 6-seater jeep was there just for us and one Australian couple. The road to Petra from Aqaba lasted about three hours and during the time we were passing by one of the most beautiful locations of Jordan – world famous Wadi Rum desert. A place where many of known films were filmed is also called as The Valley of the moon and together with Petra and Aqaba they form the golden triangle of Jordan tourism. It is now home to Bedouin nomads who everyday cross this hilly desert on their camels.
Upon arrival to Petra our guide got us the tickets which helped us to avoid long waiting times in a queue and we could go. The first store we were passing by had huge Indiana Jones on the roof so it was clear from the beginning we were at the right place… Petra – historical and archaeological site known as the Pink City which is part of UNESCO was recently included among the seven new wonders of the world. It was founded around 300 BC as the capital of Arab Nabateans and rightfully belongs among the most visited monuments of Jordan. A huge complex of cave dwellings, temples and tombs carved into the sandstone will seduce you right after the first few meters.
There is an option to hire a horse or horse carriage but to walk down on your own is the best option. The journey starts at the place called Bab Al Siq, then through Dam, canyon The Siq until you reach the most beautiful place – The Treasury Al Khazneh. From there you can carry on along the Royal tombs and the church up to the big theatre. This is the famous touristic route but there is definitely much more to see and to explore the whole area you’ll need a few days. The walk through the canyon is amazing experience thanks to colorful combinations of nearby rocks created by erosive activity of water, wind and sun. It didn’t take long and we finally came to the most iconic landmark of Petra – The Treasury Al Khazneh.
To see it with your own eyes is an amazing experience and could be compared with the Pyramids of Giza, Machu Picchu or the Taj Mahal when you stand in front of this building carved into detail for the first time. It was intended to serve as a royal tomb. According to legend the Egyptian Pharaoh placed a treasure in a box in the upper floor of the facade and many conquerors tried to get it. Even today there are visible traces of bullets. The building is 40 meters high and its facade consists of 6 Corinthian columns, of which only 2 are free-standing. Access to the interior is closed now but it does not detract from the beauty of this place. Our guide told us they also do evening visits where the whole area is highlighted only by the candles and said that at night it looks even better than during the day. Maybe next time… After a while we moved on further down but I knew on the way back we’ll be passing by The Treasury and I’ll have one more chance to observe this fantastic piece of architecture. Our next stop alongside of many nearby caves, tombs and dwellings was a big theatre.
The theater was craved into the sandstone by the indigenous people Nabateans around 2000 years ago and was able to accommodate more than 3000 spectators. Later on it was widened with more seats by Romans but shortly after this it was partly destroyed by the earthquake.
This was the end of our guided tour and after a short rest we had to go back where we started. This time we were not rushed and had enough time to stop by the Treasury. We just had to enjoy the beauty of this picturesque place once again.
When we were fully charged with this magical place we went back up through the Siq. Along the way to the car park we were passing by increasing amount of tourists on the horse carriages which meant the timing of our trip was also perfect. This place is not just about the temples or tombs but mainly about the colorful sandstone’s combinations. The nature went pretty crazy down here…
I’ve mentioned at the beginning we followed the footsteps of Indiana Jones but we discovered much more. Petra once hardly reachable city situated among the stones is an amazing city and you’ll love it with your first steps. There are extraordinary stone formations you won’t find anywhere else in the world and precisely carved temples just prove the sophistication of past civilizations. It’s also important to realize Petra belongs due to erosive activity to endangered landmarks and we should do much more in order to protect and preserve it.
Tip 1: In Aqaba go to the local market and try all their delicious food. The show starts when it gets dark.
Tip 2: Visit Petra early in the morning to avoid the flow of tourists. If you have enough time you can visit Petra in the night as well which is remarkable.
Tip 3: Instead of taking overpriced horse carriages it’s better if you walk down The Siq. It’s a nice walk through amazing canyon and for sure you’ll do many stops to take pictures.
Total costs: 7 nights All Inclusive (Flight + Accommodation + Meals): £600.00
(Prices as of March 2012)
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