The World Famous Petra

One of the highlights, which brought us to Jordan, was Petra, the capital of the Nabataean empire. We could park close to the entrance for the night and at 6.30 am, we were the first to enter the site. Completely alone could we stroll through the Siq, the narrow passage to the most iconic tomb, the Treasury.

The Treasury is the most elaborate and best preserved tomb in Petra, and at the best position possible, just where the narrow Siq opens up, you are suddenly in front of this giant facade carved into the rock.

The Siq gets wider, and giant tombs in various state line it on both sides. Erosion through sand and water, but also tomb raiders and fanatics, had destroyed the interior and the facades, but what remains until today is just breathtaking.

Urn Tomb with a portico carved into the rock
Palace Tomb – the largest tomb facade in Petra

After walking up and down the Siq, we decided to climb to the High Place of Sacrifice. Luckily, the steps were still in the shade. The Nabataeans used the top of the hill for a place to sacrifice animals, we used it to enjoy the view down to Petra. A fantastic path through Wadi Farasa leads down to Qasr-al-Bint, the main temple in Petra. On the way, we discovered many fantastic rocks, tombs and more, passing big Oleander bushes in flower.

Most impressive was the Garden Tomb or Temple, with a giant water cistern next to it, once used to water a green paradise inside this gorge. A young boy was offering tea and coffee at the tomb, a great place for a break.

Garden Triclinium – a hall used for feasts to honour the dead in the tomb opposite
Old lady selling refreshments
Fallen columns at the Temple of the Winged Lion
Temenos Gateway – once with wooden doors and towers

At the Byzantine church, the mosaics are truly remarkable. We loved especially the one which should depict a giraffe, but looks more like a spotted camel.

The second day, we started at the back entrance and walked up the old processional route with 800 steps to the Monastery. The name is a little bit misleading, as it is a tomb similar to the Treasury, as well at a fantastic position, this time high up on a mountain pass.

Bedouins offer rides on a donkey or mule to get there, but we felt more comfortable walking the steps.

The Monastery

Bedouins have their stalls along the path, but many were closed, probably as there are not so many tourists at the moment. We found that there were enough, and can’t imagine how this place feels like with double or triple the number of people walking around. When we went back to the Treasury in the afternoon, the place was packed with tourists, going there early in the morning for sure has paid off.

We are now on the way to some Crusader’s strongholds, more soon!

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