2017-10-07 Petra Guest House Hotel, Petra, Jordan

Our personal guide for our visit to Petra today is a local gentleman called Abdul. History of Petra is as follows……….Petra originally known as Raqmu, is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies on the slope of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah valley that run from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra is believed to have been settled as early as 9,000 BC, and it was possibly established in the 4th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra’s proximity to the trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub
Visiting the ancient site of Petra involves quite a lot of walking, some of it uphill during reasonably hot times of the day. For those people who prefer a more leisurely and more comfortable visit to the site, horse drawn carriages, donkeys, horses and camels are other means of transport both to and at the ancient site
To make the most of the coolest part of the day we depart on foot at 7 am
Quite a few other tour groups have also decided on an early start this morning
As we follow the road that leads us to the entrance of the ancient site of Petra, we pass numerous large carved square rocks called Djinn Blocks

The Obelisk Tomb situated on the left as we continue our walk towards Petra was believed to be built with an Egyptian influence. There is an inscription near the tomb written that the tomb belonged to a nobleman and his offspring
A dam was built close to the Al-Siq by the Nabataeans, who were a nomadic tribe that eventually settled in southern Jordan. They also built a tunnel 88 m in length here which was carved into the rock to bypass floodwater. The Nabataeans were known to be very talented masters in hydological engineering around 2000 years ago
We arrive at the entrance to the Al-Siq, which is the well known  natural quite narrow passage which meanders through massive rock walls that eventually leads one to the ancient city of Petra with it’s many amazing structures and long history
Our walk through Al-Siq first heads downwards which will eventually lead  us to the temples and other sites of Petra
Millions of years of water erosion has created this amazing passageway through the tall rock cliffs
Walking through the Al-Siq one feels dwarfed by the sheer enormity of the surrounding cliffs
Abdul our guide was keen to show us his photography skills……..not a bad photos of us!!!
The remains of a camel and its handler can clearly be seen carved into rock in the Al-Siq
In ancient times, channels were cleverly carved into the stone walls on either side of the rock walls in order to channel the water to where it can be stored

We follow the 1.2 km long passageway which resulted from a natural splitting of the mountain
A relaxed and less strenuous way of seeing the comprehensive sites of Petra
Our first glimpse of the famous structure called the ‘Treasury’ looking ahead through the narrow gap in the rock
The morning sun slowly starts filtering through and falling on to Petra’s most magnificent facade, the Treasury, or also known as Al Khazna
Camels wait patiently for their customers by the open area by the Treasury
The Treasury is almost 40 m high and is intricately decorated with Corinthian capitals, friezes, figures and more….
The Treasury is crowned by a funerary urn which according to the local legend conceals a pharaoh’s treasure
We are led to believe the Treasury was constructed in the 1st Century AD

Donkeys are another alternative means of transport around the ancient site
There is no shortage of shops conveniently positioned along the sidewalk in Petra
The Street of Facades in the distant
We continue on our sightseeing tour passing the amazing rock carved Theatre which was excavated into the side of a mountain at the foot of the High Place of Sacrifice. The Theatre which holds 4000 spectators consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways. It also is the only theatre in the world carved into rock

A young entrepreneur selling colourful rocks !!!
Spices, Frankincense and Myrrh are also available nearby by the young man’s Father
Next we visit one of the many cave houses of the area. These houses have been carved into the side of the mountain and have an opening for an entrance, windows and even a porch area out in front
It is believed a New Zealand nurse named Marguerite van Geldermalsen who met and married a handsome Bedouin man, may have lived in this cave for many years (she actually has written a book about her life called ‘Married to a Bedouin’)
The colours of the rock ceilings are quite spectacular in most of the cave houses
The Great Temple Complex represents one of the major archaeological and architectural monuments of central Petra which is estimated to cover an area of 7000 sq m……..in the foreground is a water channel constructed to carry the flood waters to tanks to be stored for later use
Our next excursion is by donkey going 1.5 kms uphill to the Ad-Deir, or the Monastery
It is a steep climb in the heat of the day, however if it hadn’t been for an unfortunate bout of food disagreement on my part, we would have liked the exercise by going by foot

The challenge by donkey is not for the faint hearted
Ric is relieved to have his feet firmly on the ground again!!
Finally we arrive at Ad Deir, the Monastery, which is one of the largest monuments in Petra measuring 47 m wide and 48.3 m high. The interior is occupied by two side benches and an alter against the rear wall. The space was originally used for meetings of religious associations and then later as a Christian chapel which is how the structure got it’s name
Opposite the stunning site is a cafe with plenty of shade where we sat back and relaxed with some cool drinks admiring the incredible view of the early 2nd Century AD Monastery
Once it was time to go back down, Ric chose to walk and take photos rather than go by donkey

It was certainly much more stressful going down than going uphill

After this photo was taken the donkey decided it was a race to the bottom of the hill……fortunately my donkey has done the trip many times before and luckily I managed to hold on!!!
Once safely back on level land, it was decided the donkey experience would not to be repeated too soon!!!!
Maybe camels next time……
On foot we head back along Colonnaded Street passing the Nymphaeum which was a semi-circular public fountain decorated with columns and in ancient times received water from a tank located on the opposite side of the valley. It is now shaded by a wild pistachio tree that is 450 years old and is another popular souvenir outlet
Looking up the hill to the magnificent facades of the Royal Tombs, from the right is the well preserved Urn Tomb which has a deep courtyard with colonnades on two sides and three niches that open into small burial chambers and to the left are the other three tombs. The Silk Tomb, with it’s remarkable different coloured rock swirls, then the Corinthian Tomb, although severely eroded looks similar to the Treasury and lastly on the left, the Palace Tomb which has a grandiose five story facade

Looking up to the tall Urn Tomb in the centre
Souvenirs, books other paraphernalia are available for sale beside all the sites at Petra
Standing by of the Royal Facades makes one realise how enormous the task was constructing these incredible structures here at Petra
Again we pass the cave houses
……and the Street of Facades which are a row of monumental Nabataean tombs carved into the cliff face
We arrive back at the Treasury with it’s magnificent facade and glowing red colour in the afternoon light
We make our way back through the narrow gorge of the Al-Siq
The afternoon light certainly highlights the rich red colours of the gorge

After a very long day of sightseeing and quite hot conditions, we decided to have a leisurely horse ride for the last section of road back to the hotel

Once back at our hotel we head for a cool drink in the Cave Bar
A gin and tonic was perfect…….
From the patio in front of our room, we look out over the town and down towards the entrance of the hotel
This evening we decide to dine in the hotel restaurant which only has a smorgasbord on offer in the evenings
We start with a few local nibbles with our wine
Followed by a nice light salad………perfect after a couple of days without much food due to my stomach upset in Amman (probably was the sushi!!!!)

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