Petra: finding out what all the fuss is about.

Petra Travel Blog

 › entry 119 of 251 › view all entries
Me in the Siq.
Guidebooks, magazine articles, and other tourists wax on and on about Petra. “If you only go to one place in Jordan, it had better be Petra…” and so on and so forth. So today we finally got to see what all the fuss is about. We were not disappointed!

The ancient city of Petra was literally carved from stone in the 1st to 3rd centuries by the Nabataeans (I had never heard of them before, either). It is now an expansive (and impressive, and amazing, and astounding, etc) archeology site. We spent about five hours exploring it on foot today. I feel like we got a pretty good taste of it, although the common recommendation is that you spend two to three days there. It’s a pretty big place.  

We got there just before 7am, and already the tour groups were gathering.
The Treasury, carved from a cliff.
We slipped in just before a large Japanese group. It wasn’t the first time during the day I was happy we went early. The light was soft and beautiful as we made the long walk through the entrance, a narrow gorge about 1 km long, called the Siq. This walk in itself was worth the price of admission! It was really gorgeous.  

As we got to the end of this long passage, we caught a glimpse of the first “structure” -- the Treasury. It is an enormous (43m or 140 feet) façade, perfectly carved from the side of the dusty pink cliff.  The camels and horses (available for hire) only added to its picturesque quality. Pretty stunning.

From there we covered a lot of ground. We visited an eroded Roman-style theatre carved from the cliffs, the Street of facades, and a series of ancient tombs.
See me in there? I look pink like the rock...
We saw archeologists from Brown University working on one of the sites -- talk about detail work! I watched one man spend 20 minutes on some minute measurements, and another group was just dusting off rocks. They probably did that all day long. (“honey, how was your day?”  “pretty good. I dusted off some more rocks.”) Not the job for me, although I have no qualms about enjoying the fruits of their labors!

The grand finale for us was the long walk up to the intricately carved Monastery. It was starting to get pretty hot at this point, and the 900 steps that carried us there really felt like…well, 900 steps. It was hard work! Many people opted to take stair-climbing donkeys, but we decided to go under our own power. Finally getting to the top was exhilarating, and it was beautiful…well worth the hike.
Detail of the monastery.
In my excitement, I even bought some jewelry from a vendor there.  

Then it was time to hike back out. It had really heated up, and the numbers of visitors coming in had increased dramatically. The Sig had been tranquil and shady in the morning, but was nearly spoiled by chattering groups on the way out, plus the sun was relentless. Again, I was SO happy we were just finishing up at 1pm, instead of being the ones just coming in!

We were so tired when we finished our tour, a nice nap certainly seemed to be in order. But, NO… unfortunately we had already checked out of our room and placed our bags into storage. On our agenda for the afternoon was a drive further south, to Aqaba and the Red Sea.

cmgervais says:
Yes it is! Very observant of you...
Posted on: Jul 02, 2008
m_p_topetzes says:
Hi guys! This looks familiar...is this where they filmed Indiana Jones and the last Crusade? BTW, Jordan is such a beautiful country! Enjoy!
Posted on: Jul 02, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Me in the Siq.
Me in the Siq.
The Treasury, carved from a cliff.
The Treasury, carved from a cliff.
See me in there? I look pink like …
See me in there? I look pink like…
Detail of the monastery.
Detail of the monastery.
View from our hotel.
View from our hotel.
Tour groups entering Petra in the …
Tour groups entering Petra in the…
Steve in the Siq.
Steve in the Siq.
Another Siq picture.
Another Siq picture.
The Siq.
The Siq.
Detail of the Treasury.
Detail of the Treasury.
Camels for hire.
Camels for hire.
Side view of the Treasury.
Side view of the Treasury.
Wanna ride? Only 5JD.
Wanna ride? Only 5JD.
Cave dwellings at Petra.
Cave dwellings at Petra.
Facades and caves at Petra.
Facades and caves at Petra.
Donkey standing by.
Donkey standing by.
Colonnaded street at Petra.
Colonnaded street at Petra.
Geologists at work, dusting of roc…
Geologists at work, dusting of ro…
Elephant carving.
Elephant carving.
Original, well preserved plasterwo…
Original, well preserved plasterw…
Pieces of a very large, incomprehe…
Pieces of a very large, incompreh…
Camels for hire.
Camels for hire.
The route to the monastery.
The route to the monastery.
The route to the monastery.
The route to the monastery.
On the way to the monastery.
On the way to the monastery.
The prize for climbing 900 stairs …
The prize for climbing 900 stairs…
Detail of the monastery.
Detail of the monastery.
Donkey in waiting.
Donkey in waiting.
Ancient tombs carved into cliffs a…
Ancient tombs carved into cliffs …
Everyone was taking their picture.…
Everyone was taking their picture…
Hiding from the heat.
Hiding from the heat.
Facades at Petra.
Facades at Petra.
Camels for hire.
Camels for hire.
Im ready for my close up!
I'm ready for my close up!
The Sig at high noon.
The Sig at high noon.
Our hotel.
Our hotel.
Petra dust.
Petra dust.
Petra
photo by: vances