Published: April 4th 2012April 4th 2012
Finally arriving somewhere that you have long wished to visit can put you a little on edge. We walked down the long siq towards the famous and much photographed canyon like entrance to Petra wondering could it be as impressive as the pictures and other people say. When we turned that final corner and came upon the gap with the rose coloured façade of the Treasury peeping through all our concerns vanished. Much as with other well photographed icons such as the Taj Mahal there is nothing to compare with being there and seeing it for yourself. The Treasury is truly impressive, carved out of the cliff face rising to a great height and in a beautiful soft colour is something very special. This of course is not all there is to Petra, it’s a huge site with over 800 tombs in a series of valleys. The stunning landscape of ridges, coloured rocks, cliffs and valleys is beautiful enough to enjoy spending time hiking in, add to that the fact that there are a huge variety of tombs and caves carved out of the rock faces just adds to it being an amazing place. We spent a total of around 26 hours there over three days walking up steep hills to get different viewpoints, wandering along wadis and clambering over ruins. We sat and watched the sun shining onto the Treasury façade from above on a cliff edge and we ate a picnic looking down a fertile wadi and up at a Crusader Fort. So many historical eras had an influence here; the Nabataens who are the main influence, ancient bronze age people, Romans, Ottomans, Crusaders and I’m sure others I can’t remember. There are Nabataen tombs and ampitheatre, Roman colonnaded street, Byzantine church with lovely mosaics and cave homes of local Bedouin, a few of which are still inhabited. A must see is the Monastery, similar façade to the Treasury but over a hill and set quite high up, stunning location and another magnificent building. Views out over the desert too.
As well as jewelry stalls everywhere there are lots of young men trying to get you to have rides on their donkeys, camels, horses…air conditioned Ferraris, Lamborghinis and taxis depending on who you speak to, all quite friendly. Many of them look like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow with kholed eyes, long wavy hair and a headscarf tied in a piratical way.