Travelling to Petra
We had marvelled at the temples and tombs in Egypt. Touring through Jordon, we headed for the lost city of Petra! This ancient marvel had been on my “list” for a long time. I was excited to finally spend the day walking through this ancient city.
It was an interesting drive from the port of Aqaba through the countryside of Jordon. Our guide regaled us with facts about Jordon, details of the geology along our path and the history of Petra. In spots you could see the red rock that we would find so prominent when we hit the lost city of Petra.
Starting Our Walk Into The Lost City of Petra
Entering through the visitor centre, we started on the first of our long treks into the lost city of Petra. The path was out in the open, heading steadily down. We saw donkeys, horses and carts coming back up the path. This was the first tip that our walk might be very long this day!
We stopped at the Djinn blocks first. These large blocks of stone showed light carvings.
The Obelisk Tomb was a little bit further down. It offered an early view of what was to come. It is not sheltered from the wind and rain in any way and is badly eroded. There is a tomb on the top but no remains have ever been found. The lower half is the dining room.
We could see the remains of a dam at our next stop. Petra is at the bottom of hills and when it rained the water rushes down. The Nabateans were masters of water engineering and built the dams to both store and control the water. A series of troughs directed the water down to the Royal Tombs.
Walking the Siq
As we continued our walk into the cavern, we could see the red rock walls. The lost city of Petra has also been known as the Rose City, due to the colour of this red stone that it was carved out of.
The Siq was the ceremonial passage into the religious part of the town. The high walls of the ravine surrounded us as we walked through the Siq. In many places the passage was very narrow. Often you needed to flatten against the walls at a narrow point if a carriage came through. Other parts widen out into what looked like courtyards.
The rocks are fascinating to look at, both the colour and shapes.
We stopped several times to see the remnants of carvings in the rock. At one stop you could see just the feet of the camel caravan reliefs. The rest of the carving was no longer discernible. One particularly large rock looked a bit like a large elephant.
Emerging At The Treasury
When you see pictures of the the lost city of Petra, the most recognizable view is of the Treasury. As we hit the end of the Siq, you could just see the high carved edifice emerge.
The Treasury face has been well preserved. The facade is cut deep into the rock face and located deep in a valley away from wind, rain and blowing sand. People milled about in front trying to catch the sheer size of this ruin.
This was the first comfort stop along the ruins. At this point you found toilets, refreshments and all kinds of souvenirs. When we came through and saw the Treasury for the first time, the sun was still high enough that the facade was in the sun. You could see the bright red colours. When we returned, the sun had already moved and this valley was in shadow. Try to make it this far before you lose the bright light.
We were interested to find a wide array of camels within the courtyard. People posed with the camels and sometimes paid for a ride. Donkeys were also available if you wanted to take a short donkey ride to the next spot.
Continuing On To The Royal Tombs
As we turned the corner from the Treasury, we headed deeper into the the lost city of Petra. Next you will come to the Street of Facades. The wall is dotted with caves. Path lead up if you want to explore inside the caves.
Along the path there is a large amphitheatre under the rocks. It seems that almost every ruins we have ever visited includes at least one amphitheatre. We have explored Pompeii, the Roman Coliseum and the great amphitheatre in Verona (where we enjoyed a presentation of Romeo and Juliette)!
As you move along the lost city of Petra, you come to the second major comfort stop. You can stop and have a rest before climbing the stairs for a better view or continuing on deeper into the ruins.
There is a long wall of tombs. Much like we had found when exploring the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt, the tombs were carved back into the rocks.
At the top you can see the famous “Urn Tomb” named from the urn decorating the top. it is also known as “The Court” since in Roman times it was used as a courthouse. Stairs lead up to the tomb. Many people walked. Some tried it by donkey!
Below the Urn Tomb were a number of caves, some now re-purposed for this comfort stop.
Keep Exploring the Petra Ruins
We stopped at this point in our tour of the the lost city of Petra. Our guide left us to roam on our own. But we had a firm meeting time that left little time for dawdling on our return walk. Some people waited for carriages or donkeys for the return trip. We trudged on back on the uphill walk to the entrance. But I really would have liked to travel back in the golf cart, even if they did squeeze 6 people in!
If you keep going, there was still lots to see in the the lost city of Petra. Opposite the wall of tombs, stairs lead to the High Place of Sacrifice. From the Royal Tombs you find the Colonnaded Road with a view of the Petra mountains. In ancient times, shops and artisan workshops would have lined the street in between the colonnades. There are two other temples currently being excavated (the “Great Temple” and the “The Temple of the Winged Lions”). If you walk all the way to the end you will find the Monastery.
Too Quick A Visit to Jordon
We had a great tour of the lost city of Petra. We probably did as much of the lost city as we could have done in a day tour. A longer visit to Petra would allow us to venture further into the ruins and see the places deeper in the ruins that we missed.
It is truly an amazing ruin. And every day more is being uncovered! We were so glad to have visited Petra on our tour in Jordon.
Have you visited the lost city of Petra? Did you tour the entire ruins? What should we see on a return visit?