Petra Feb 2011

Petra, a prehistoric caravan city in Jordan, was lost to the Western world for hundreds of years.  It is located in the desert between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea on an important crossroad between Arabia, Egypt and Syria.  Petra was once a trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 BC and 106 AD.  Petra is half built and half carved into the rock.  The Nabataeans picked this location for the surrounding mountains with its windy entrances resembling a fortress.  They were an advanced society with ingenious networks of water capture, storage and irrigation systems, hence creating an artificial oasis in the desert. Their architectural style is also a unique combination of Hellenistic and Nabataean, which we were told was their way of making traders visiting the city feel “at home” with architecture familiar to them.

Petra’s importance in trade waned after the Romans took over.  The city continued to decline with the rise of sea trade, and Petra was abandoned near the close of the Byzantine Empire.  Petra was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

We flew into Amman, the capital of Jordan, and was immediately transferred to Petra about 3 hours away.   We stayed at the Movenpick Resort Petra right across from the entrance to Petra’s archaeological site.  The benefit of staying here is you can enter Petra as soon as the site opens at 6am before the busloads of tourists arrive.  Also you can do Petra by Night which is an after-dark excursion into the ancient city lit by candlelight.  The square in front of the Treasury will be lit by candles and a bedouin musician plays while you sip some hot mint tea.  The tour does not run every night so make sure you check and book in advance.

IMG_0699The lobby of the Movepick Resort Petra.

IMG_0698The lobby of the Movenpick Resort Petra.

IMG_0573Entering Petra bright and early.

IMG_0579Obelisk Tomb named after the four obelisks on top of the tomb.  The top story of the tomb houses the tomb itself, while the bottom story contains a traditional Nabataean dining hall for funerary rites.

IMG_0582Entrance to the Siq

IMG_0585Eastern entrance to Petra through the Siq which is a narrow gorge.

IMG_0590Walk along the windy Siq which is about 1200m long.

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IMG_0599On both sides of the Siq are channels to draw water into the city.

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IMG_0607At the end of the Siq is the famed Treasury building.

IMG_0615The Treasury is only a facade with only a small hall inside probably used as an “admissions office” or a royal tomb.

IMG_0630Beginning of the Street of Facades which is lined with tall impressive tombs with large facades on their fronts.

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IMG_0632The Street of Facades is a row of Nabataean tombs.

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IMG_0638The Theatre is caved into the side of the mountain below the High Place of Sacrifice.

IMG_0640Petra is also referred to as the Rose City because of the rose-red colored sandstone.

IMG_0643The Royal Tombs from left to right: The Palace Tomb, The Corinthian Tomb, The Silk Tomb, and The Urn Tomb.

IMG_0681The Corinthian Tomb is similar in architectural style to the Treasury.

IMG_0682The Palace Tomb is similar in design to the Roman Golden House of Nero.  Archaeologists speculate that the Palace Tomb may be designed as a backdrop for State funerals.

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IMG_0647Colonnaded Street that used to run through the city center of Petra.

IMG_0648Qasr al-Bint or the Palace of Pharaoh’s Daughter

IMG_0664The Monastery is one of the largest monuments here in Petra and it is also the farthest from the main gate.  You can hike 800 steps up or ride a donkey most of the way and climb up on foot the last bit.

IMG_0651The door to the Monastery is 8 meters high.

IMG_0656The Monastery was most probably a temple dedicated to the Nabatean king Obodas I who was posthumously diefied.

IMG_0693Leaving Petra through the Siq

 

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