One of my favorite historic spots in the world is Petra, the pink city. A truly magical and majestic place that meets you with ample grandeur the minute you set eye on it. The last time I visited was 13 years ago. I was so sad to see that generally in Jordan, things have taken a turn to the worse. A more crowded, a more polluted, a more disorganized Jordan.
But Petra was the total opposite of all that. It looked better-taken care of and better preserved than ever. Clean, organized and well-maintained. It made me really happy to see that. A UN World Heritage site and a spot made popular by the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Petra attracts hoards of people. Buses hail on to this place in the desert and flood it with tourists. So unlike my previous visits to Petra where I would get there early in the day, I got there in the afternoon for a late daytime stroll and then for the evening light show. It was PERFECT. The daylight part of my visit barely had the tourists as they were heading back at this time. Petra by day is a very different experience from Petra by night. This post is my day time visit which will be followed by another post on the night tour.
What I love about the Petra experience is it feels virgin. It hasn’t been touched much and whatever structures that exist around are designed well to impose as little as possible on what was originally built. As you walk through, you feel like you’re moving through a place that has been preserved to be the same exact way as when it was built in 312BC.
You start with the walk down to the valley surrounded with the natural rock formations.
Early signs of a civilization and a whole city start to appear as you walk down. Homes carved into the rock start to appear.
You recognize the brilliance of this civilization by seeing how tough the terrain is and how a whole city was carved into it.
Then you approach the gorge called the Siq, a windy 1.2km path to the main structure, the Khazneh (the Treasury). The walk is stunning. The rock is so beautiful and has a natural grain and pattern that is unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere. Historically and strategically, the windy walk was utilized to provide cover for the Treasury to create protection. At the top of the rock, snipers were positioned to watch the in comers and ensure there’s no looming threat on to the city. At the end of the Siq, you’re met with a glimpse of the Treasury right before you walk into the open courtyard at the center.
The Treasury is majestic! Carved into the pink rock with perfect detail and exactness – makes one truly marvel.
And just beyond the treasury, you see many signs of a complete city with other clusters of homes carved in the rock, common buildings, and of course a colosseum. The city is stunning and worthy of the ‘World Wonder’ title.