- Petra is one of the global archaeological wonders marked on every traveler’s bucket list.
I scrambled to finalize the itinerary last minute for our Jordan trip, unsure of what would await us as we land in the Kingdom of Jordan. The main focus of the trip was to attend my best friend’s wedding reception and have a jolly time.
Not to Miss
However, how could I set my foot in the sands of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and not visit the ancient city of Petra?
My fellow travelers and I were quite keen to experience Petra on the whole, rather than make it one of the quick stopovers in our itinerary. Fortunately, our guide for the trip understood our interests and provided us with an experienced guide and plenty of time to leisurely absorb the sights of Petra.
Even though we visited Petra in April, a season blessed with cooler temperatures, we were worried about our lengthy walk in Petra under the direct sun. The best option to avoid the barren heat would be visiting post two p.m. and staying till the closing at 7 p.m, as we did.
The Grand Entrance
Similar to any other tourist attraction – concrete structures, a ticket booth and tourist-targeted shops were situated at the entrance of this place.
On the contrary, take sixty steps from the entrance and you find yourself in a drastically different environment.
On either side of our rocky pathway were cave like openings on rocky mountain sides. We were informed that those caves were used to bury tombs during the Nabatean Empire in the first century BC and the even bigger tombs housed enough space for the deceased’s family members to conduct ceremonies.
Intrigued by it all, we trod further into the old city of Petra, surrounded by sounds of horse hoofs and swiveling dust in the air.
As we entered the main city of Petra, we were greeted by towering red rock formations channeling a narrow pathway of travel. The falling shadows of the natural formations provided us with an escape from the scorching desert heat.
Walking further into a pebbled and rocky pathway, we gaped up to take in the centuries-old carvings on the rocks depicting the traditional trade routes and marriage altars designed under what is believed to be historical god statues.
One can almost feel taken back in time as you imagine camels and tradesmen walking through those very same routes. Cool winds sweep past your skin to awaken you to reality as your mind wanders standing there. Strain your neck to look towards the sky and you notice the beautiful geological details, carved by nature. I was in awe at the different shades of color and texture of the various rocks from natural erosion over the past hundred of centuries. Fast forward to few centuries in the future and one might predict to only find a handful of traces left of the Nabatean Empire at Petra, you never know.
Saving the best for the last, one cannot help but gasp at a sneak peek of the great view of the Treasury through the mountains. En numerous of photos on the web, and you still cannot wait to glance at the construction and detailing of this massive structure at Petra.
A trek up the mountains for a helicopter view of Petra is another choice for the more adventurous. Other monuments such as the Monastery and world’s only stone amphitheater are open for exploration, further inland from the treasury. Depending on your group’s energy and time availability, you could plan on covering additional hikes and monuments. Take into consideration all photo pit stops as well in your timeline.
Disclaimer: To be honest, even though Petra has the deep history and even geological elements, the artwork and sculptures that are in various South Asian monuments cannot be expected here. Petra is unique in what it has to offer and a visitor should have an open mind and imagination to truly feel the ancient stories speaking through the rocks.
Overall, I would recommend a once in a lifetime visit to Petra to experience its rich culture and history.