Petra- The Rose-Red City

Monastery of Petra, Jordan

Petra is a legendary lost city. Spectacularly carved by the Nabateans into the rocks of the hidden desert canyon in Western Jordan. It is the most dazzling site of the country.

Famously known as the Rose City. With its magnificent temples. Giant tombs. Natural beauty and staggering surroundings. It is like no other site in the world.

By being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It is a true jewel in the crown of Jordan’s antiquities and those are plentiful.

Petra’s Facts

Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. It is said that the Nabateans were a nomadic tribe which ventured out of Arabia in the 6th century BC.

Over time they abandoned their unsettled way of life to become very skilful traders.

The Rock City became one of the most important centers of trade and commerce in the region. Thanks to their privileged location between Asia, Arabia and the Mediterranean.

Pepper, sugar, ginger and cotton were traded with India. Merchants exchanged Chinese silks for gold and silver. Frankincense and myrrh were arriving here from Yemen for onward distribution. So when in 62 BC the Roman General Pompey arrived to attack Petra, the Nabateans simply bought him off.

With time the Nabateans ceded power to the Romans, thus founding an era of prosperity.

After adopting Christianity in 324, the city continued to flourish. But changes in the trade patterns led to a slow decline. The catastrophic earthquake which destroyed almost all of the free-standing buildings led to complete desertion. It stayed that way for a millennium. Until its ‘rediscovery’ by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.

The Treasury Unfolds itself mysteriously after a walk over the narrow Siq. Like most of Petra’s buildings has been carved into the red sandstone cliff.

Massive ornamented facades. A mix of Egyptian and Assyrian and Classical elements. The Amphitheatere. Arched Gateways. Colonnaded Streets. The dramatic Qasr Al-Bint Temple. Royal Tombs. Water channels. The Monastery and dozens of other sights create a panorama of architectural grandeur.

The Monastery is one of the most fabulous structures in the whole complex. It is situated high up in the mountains. Among spectacular desert scenery.

Although slightly less dashing than the Treasury. Watching the sun going down on Petra from its top was definitely the highlight of my day. Awe-inspiring!

And a Bedouin man who was performing yoga on top of its dome! If someone had told me this as a story I wouldn’t have believe! As I saw it myself I could only say WOW!

The Rose City isn’t just about walks and postcard views. Hiking here is unforgettable. Each step taken further into the winding canyon unfolds un overwhelming natural beauty. The climbing is rewarded with sweeping views of the most unique rugged landscape. Petra is a hiker’s paradise.

A number of places in the Rock City require some climbing. Among them is the High Place of Sacrifice. A perfect spot to do some more hiking. You can reach a place to watch the Treasury just from the top of the opposite wall, breathtaking. Then a good hike up to see the Amphitheater from above while sipping some Bedouin tea.

After hiking between the peaks of the mountains You can start a long way down through the Garden Tomb and the Broken Solider Tomb to Qasr Al Bint Temple. And a further walk up to the Winged Lion Temple.

Lots of people visit Petra on a one day trip either from some other cities in Jordan or from Israel. To truly discover this place. To see all the sights. To do some serious hiking like I did. To visit Little Petra and to attend ‘Petra by Night’ one needs at least two full days.

I spent three days in Wadi Musa before taking off for Aqaba. I had an amazing time here. The weather was perfect. The people friendly and the Bedouin tea as sweet as usual.

Petra is nothing like you have seen in pictures. It is difficult to express with words how astonishing, heart-stirring and startling this place is.

What truly makes this city remarkable is not so much the idea, but the execution of hewing a city amid such strenuous surroundings. It is simply mind-blowing. Add the outstanding hospitality of my Bedouin guide and you can see my ‘Great Travel Scale’ sky-rocketing way above maximum of 10.

3 thoughts on “Petra- The Rose-Red City

  1. Sonia

    We loved Jordan as a tourist destination… Petra is truly manmade wonder!

  2. Tom

    Amazing article and photos – my dream destination :)
    Tom recently posted…Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland – The Valley of Two Lakes and The Monastic CityMy Profile

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