On The Road to Petra
As I looked out the window from our hotel, the sun glistened over the Red Sea. It was a bright, beautiful morning - a perfect day to tour the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. We had to get an early start, as crossing the border would be quite a process.
We checked in at the main crossing gate and had to hand over our passports while Jordanian officials processed the paperwork that would allow us to visit their country. Although we had been told of this proceedure in advance, it was still a bit unnerving to be without a passport! After about an hour of waiting, our passports were returned and we were on the bus, driving through Jordan to the amazing city of Petra.
We wind our way up the mountains, taking in the scenery.
"Petra" is the Greek word for "rock." The city of Petra is an archeological wonder, as all of the buildings are carved right into the rocks! This ancient city is so amazing, it's one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World!" Once we arrive, it's a short walk to the entrance.
There is evidence that this area was inhabited as early as 1600 BCE; at it’s peak in the 1st century BCE, Petra's population was estimated at 45 to 50-thousand people.
As we made our way down the narrow “canyon” we are struck by the brilliant colors in the rock formations.
Our guide explained that many of these structures were mausoleums. He showed us the original stones alone the path, as well as the extensive water canal system.
When we came to the end of the canyon, the towering rocks appeared to separate, opening up to the magnificent structure known as "The Treasury.' If you're thinking, "I know I've seen this somewhere before..." you probaly have - if you're an "Indiana Jones" fan. It was used in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" as the temple housing the holy grail!
This incredible building, also believed to have been a mausoleum, took 20 years to build with 100 men working on it each day! There are many influences in its style, including Egyptian, Persian, Babylonian, Mesopotamian, and Greek. We continue on to the Necropolis - or “City of the Dead” which displays more mausoleums.
At one point, a member of our group asked, if all these buildings were to house the dead, where did the living reside?! We were told, they actually lived on the hills near Petra, but because these were free-standing homes (not carved in the rock) they were destroyed over time.
The grand Amphitheater was originally constructed in the 1st Century BCE for religious purposed, but when the Romans took over Petra in 106 CE they used it for entertainment purposes. After learning about the history of the region, we had some free time to explore - I used this time creatively!!
By the time we walked back to the bus, we were pretty tuckered out!
We stopped for a fabulous lunch and were treated to another outstanding sunset over the Jordanian mountains.