The city in the rocks.

Petra Travel Blog

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After sitting in the cab (with air conditioning !) for about 3 hours, Mario pulled over where we were able to look out over the valley Wadi Mousa and the town which he said has grown quite a bit to accommodate the increasing number of visitors.  On the far side of the valley is Jabel Haroun (Mount Aaron) also called Mount Hor where it is said that Moses buried his brother Aaron (Numbers 33:38 NKJ). Growing up with Bible stories, I was in awe of the whole area. 

All I heard from Jay (who had been there before) was "you haven't seen anything yet".  Because it's hidden in the basin of the valley, Petra can't be seen until you are literally on top of it.

Entering the Siq (the shaft).
  It's said to have been first established around 6th centurey B.C. by the Nabataeans, an Arabic tribe who used the area for trade routes.  Though it's also believed that the area was first occupied by the Edomites around 1200 BC.  No one knows for sure how old it is, but in any case, it's ancient.

After walking a ways, it seems the walls of the Siq come out of nowhere and you find yourself travelling through a narrow passage (some places 5 m wide) with walls extending so high it blocks the sunlight out (300-600ft). And the colors....most magnificant tones of reds and pinks.  After almost a mile, we caught the first glimpse of Al Khazneh or the Treasury.  Being an Indian Jones fan, I thought it pretty cool to be standing on the steps.

I was quite surprised at how small the interior was, a chamber abut 12 sq meters, in comparison to the 40 meter high facade. It's believed to have been built as a tomb and the name comes from legends that the Pharoah chasing the Israelites hid his treasure in the stone urn that can be seen on the second level of the facade. Other legends says pirates.  No one knows for sure. No matter what, it's pretty darn impressive to see.

After passing several facades that were carved into the sandstone, we came to the amphitheater where Jay wanted to test the theory that there is one spot on stage where a whisper can be heard no matter where one sits. Sure enough, he found it.  I sat in several places and was still able to hear him.

first glimpse of Al Khazneh (or the treasury)
It was quite extraordinary.

Walking further, we came out into the valley and onto the Colonnaded Street which was the main street in the first century A.D. Most of the city was ruined by earthquakes in 363 & 551 and pretty much 'lost' until it was 'rediscovered' in 1812 by a Swiss explorer and orientalist Johann Burckhardt.  Excavation of the city center was started around 1958 and we were able to see the ongoing excavation of The Great Temple (sponsored by Brown University) and the Temple of Al Uzza (The American Expedition to Petra - Utah University).  Reminded me of Pompeii - but that's awhole-nother travel blog.

Since it was getting late and we had a long drive back, we decided to end our hike there and head back to the entrance.  We never made it to Al Deir or otherwise known as the Monastery which would have taken an hour.  It just gives me another reason to visit in the future.

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Entering the Siq (the shaft).
Entering the Siq (the shaft).
first glimpse of Al Khazneh (or th…
first glimpse of Al Khazneh (or t…
Al Khazneh
Al Khazneh
The amphitheatre
The amphitheatre
the tombs
the tombs
Temple of Al Uzza (Temple of the W…
Temple of Al Uzza (Temple of the …
Through the ruins of the triumphal…
Through the ruins of the triumpha…
From the steps of the Great Temple…
From the steps of the Great Templ…
kinda strange to see a Dutch truck…
kinda strange to see a Dutch truc…
photo by: vances