Petra, Jordan Masterpiece

Travels & Adventures
By Rasha Dewedar
Freelance writer

Petra was constructed around the 6th century BC by the Nabataeans.

When Bernard Weber initiated the New Seven Wonders of the World project in 2007, only few people knew where Petra is and why it is included in the competition.

Being selected as one of the new wonders, this made people even more curious to know what is all about 'some rocks'?

The Nabataean Rose City of Petra which is half built and half carved into the rocks is one of the most outstanding historical spots in Jordan, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Petra was constructed around the 6th century BC by the Nabataeans (Arab traders) where it became an important junction for spices, silk and other trade routes that linked Asia and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Italy.

Petra was considered as one of the lost cities until it was discovered by the Swiss traveler Jean-Louis Burckhardt in 1812 after he correctly identified its site.

It is really hard to describe a place like Petra, or even to explain what its main constituents are.

To the Siq

Souvenirs' shops are available in different parts of Petra.

However, if you go through the classic path set by the authorities, it starts by walking along the Siq (the narrow, steep-sided gorge between two huge mountains) until you reach the Treasury.

Walking through the Siq, which is about 1km, you'll see why people come from all over the world to see those splendid unique rocks.

Interesting assortment of colors and shapes of rocks exist side by side, in a complete and perfect scene that will certainly works for memorable photos.

I highly recommend reading through different explanatory texts that are present on the rocks of the Siq, which tell more about the history of the city, and the main historical events happened there long ago.

I don't know is it a good or a bad luck that going through the Siq in motorized vehicles is not allowed, you either walk or take a horse drawn cart.

For me, I recommend walking through the Siq, because going on a cart will deprive you the opportunity to explore the rocks and taking photos.

Also, it is not a long distance to walk especially if you know that the mountains on both sides shade most of the passage. However, you can take the cart when you finish and return back to the starting point.

In either ways, you should hold cold water with you and wear a hat, light clothes and comfortable shoes.

The best time to visit Petra is either spring or autumn where it is neither very hot nor very cold.

You should also visit Petra in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid high temperature and exposure to the sun.

The Treasury is a fascinating carved in rocks tomb for a prominent Nabataean king. It is about 50m high and 30m wide; it is the most famous piece of architecture in Petra.

The Treasury is not the end of the journey, the adventure is still ongoing.

You can have some rest, a soft drink or an ice cream which are available there, then resume the journey.

When you pass the Treasury, you'll find the Roman Theatre, more tombs, and stairs that leads to more architects and a marvelous view of Petra from a higher point.

I don't know is it a good or a bad luck that going through the Siq in motorized vehicles is not allowed, you either walk or take a horse cart.

Tombs with different shapes and designs past the Treasury survived natural disasters and remain a strong evidence of an ancient yet strong and remarkable civilization.

Souvenirs' shops are available in different parts of Petra, where you can find Bedouin souvenirs, magnets, post cards, scarves, and more.

You'll find camels, horses, and donkeys dressed in colorful cheering outfits, with some of the donkeys putting roses behind their ears.

The Petra Archaeological Park (PAP) covers 264,000 square meters area within Wadi Musa in Ma`an governorate.

Normally, tourists stay in Petra for 2-3 days to be able to explore different parts of it, hotels and services are available for tourists' convenience.

However, in some cases, tourists may take a bus from Amman to visit Petra for the whole day and come back at night. The distance is about three to four hours by car or bus.

Petra, as most people believe is the most prominent Jordan attraction; however, Jordan still has less famous, but no less interesting places.

Although Wadi Rum shares some natural characteristics with Petra, however, it is a completely different experience.

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is a good example of what Jordan still holds for tourists, it is a totally different experience, an exciting one as well.

Wadi Rum is basically a large landscape with number of huge mountains, where different places are built to accommodate comfortable seats where you can have some time in a shaded place taking view of the mountains.

You can also drink hot or soft drinks or have a meal at the same place.

However, adventure moment is when you start climbing one of the mountains that have some rocks modified into stairs in the beginning, and then you have to climb natural rocks afterwards until you reach the top.

It is not very difficult, and it doesn't need special fitness to reach the top of the mountain, you just need to watch your steps while climbing.

It is advisable to go on the top at sunset where you'd see the sun in front of you going slowly down and leaving those red and orange shades encompassing the high mountains.

Although Wadi Rum shares some natural characteristics with Petra, however, it is a completely different experience.

Wadi Rum is a combination of different experiences at one place, in a way you have the adventure side of climbing the mountain, and in the meantime it is considered an excellent place to relax in a comfortable place watching the awesome view while sitting down.

Unfortunately, there is no airport near Petra or Wadi Rum; you either land in Amman or `Akabah first.

Tourists and also Jordanians who go to Petra for only one day usually go to Wadi Rum before going back to Amman, where it takes about one hour and a half from Petra to Wadi Rum.

Related Links:
Jordan's Dana: A Village Reawakened
Jordanian Cuisine, a Tale of Passion
Recycled Water Turns Jordan's Deserts Green
Rasha Dewedar is a freelance writer based in cairo. She is a mother of 3 chidren and she is interested in women and gender issues.

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