We departed the Dead Sea early and drove about two-and-a-half through varied landscapes to Petra. When I’d mentioned Petra to friends and family prior to our trip, most had no clue as to where or what I was talking about and then I advised them to Google “The Treasury Petra” and the response I usually got was, “Oh, wasn’t that in one of the Indiana Jones movies?” Yes, yes it was.
Our Petra “guide” liked to take pictures of us so here’s the first glamour shot photo of this post.
We drove along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea and then traversed a mountain range in a zig-zag pattern. Between the aggressive driving and my inability to sit in any seat but a front seat in a car and not get motion sick, I had to ask the driver to pull over so that I could take some Dramamine shortly after we entered the mountain range.
He was more than happy to pull over and then stated that he’s had two people get sick in his car in the past. Gee, I wonder why?
I love the photo below. It beats most of our wedding photos.
One of my favorite wedding photos…
Once in Petra, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and met our specialist Petra guide at the ticket office which was literally across the street from our hotel. I had read that the walk from the “entrance to Petra” to the Treasury – down a gorge called the Siq – was a longish journey but what I didn’t know was that there was a second longish journey from the ticket office to the entrance. It took the three of us about 30 minutes to walk [downhill] from the ticket office to the Treasury and when we reached the Treasury, it was just as amazing as all the online articles and photos indicated.
The Siq is currently the main (and only) entrance to the ancient city of Petra but back in the day, it was only used by religious figures. All the regular folk entered the city via the back way which was nowhere near as pretty, well-maintained or suspenseful.
In the lower left-hand corner of the above photo, you can see the remnants of the ancient water system. On both sides of the Siq, there were gutters/gullies which transported water from the springs to the ancient city. The gutters on the left-hand side were used by humans and the gutters on the right-hand side (not shown above) were used by animals.
As we walked down the dusty, dirt path from the ticket office and through Roman-paved walkway of the Siq, the temperature changed dramatically. It was very windy and cold at the ticket office but very calm and slightly cool in the Siq. When we reached the Treasury, it was super sunny and the temperature was perfect.
The Treasury was established as early as 312 BC. It was carved from the top down. If you look closely at the photo below, to the left and right of the “second level,” you’ll see vertical indentations in the stone. These indentations were where the ladders were placed and where peoples’ feet gouged the stone as they climbed up and down the ladders.
The urn in the middle at the very top of the carving was thought to have contained the city’s fortune and, in an effort to break it open, it was shot at (perhaps with small stones via slingshots) multiple times only to reveal that the urn was solid stone and contained no fortune.
A few other fascinating things about the design of the Treasury:
- There are 365 small blocks
- There are 12 wedges
- There are 31 circles
- There are 7 wine cups
Together, the above represents the days of the year, number of months in a year, number of days in a month, and number of days in a week.
The site of Petra is massive. It would take two full days to explore the entire site. We spent about five hours hiking around and, in total, hiked approximately six miles. We even made the trek to the Monastery which is a two-hour hike from the Treasury – all uphill and through the mountains.
The Monastery is not as big as the Treasury but still very impressive. At the Monastery, there was a little cafe, lots of seating and two friendly stray dogs located just behind where I was standing when I took the photo below.
In the lower middle of the photo above, there is a doorway. The floor of this doorway is about eight feet above ground level. This along with the people in the photo gives some perspective of how large the Monastery is.
By the time we reached the Monastery, our legs were dead and there was no option but hike two hours back to the Treasury and another 30 minutes up the Siq and then to the entrance and finally, across the street to our hotel.
The Siq and the path to the ticket office seemed never-ending and it was questionable as to if we were going to arrive at our hotel before the sundown. My calves were sore for the remainder of the trip from walking around Petra. Visiting Petra is not for the weak-bodied.
Fun fact: Throughout the ancient city existed smaller carvings and homes/tombs built into the sides of the mountains. There was even a Roman theatre.
For our one and only night in Petra, we went to dinner at a local restaurant with our driver and then made a beeline for bed. We were absolutely knackered. I think we were in bed by 10pm which was fine and dandy since our driver would be ’round the following morning at 7:45am to transfer us to the desert region of Jordan known as Wadi Rum.
All of the above paints this awesome picture of the ancient city of Petra but there were a couple negative things that need to be pointed out as well.
- The donkeys and camels available for riding were not in good shape. I was appalled people thought it was appropriate to ride these poor animals who were clearly malnourished and overworked.
- The donkey owners rode their donkeys from the Treasury toward the Siq and were rude. They would ride their donkeys right up behind us and then yell “Beep! Beep!” They had plenty of room to go around us.
- There was a half-billboard-sized sign citing a telephone number and email address where animal abuse could be reported and I regret not taking a picture of it so I could send my feedback.
- In the big area in front of the Treasury were a few cheap Chinese-goods tourist shops.
- Small tourist shops lined the stairs and paths to the Monastery which was disappointing and frustrating. I’m all for having kiosks with water and snacks but I think tourist shops should be saved for outside of the ancient city.
I’ll leave you now with some more glamour shots!