Countries,  Jordan

A little bit about Petra: the whole temple in one day

Hello dear! How is life going? Today we will make an independent excursion around Petra temple complex. We will discover all the main attractions and visit the best photo points.

The rocky city of Petra is located in Jordan in the middle of the Wadi Musa Valley. ‘Wadi' in Arabic means dry riverbeds and river valleys. Musa is Moses. The entrance to the temple is surrounded by a village. It comprises mainly hotels for tourists who have come here for a few days.

Petra itself is hidden in the depths among the rocks and it required time to be reached. The road to the main entrance goes through Bab al-Sik (Gateway to Sik). There are already the first temples and ancient tombs. Soon there will be Sik — the entrance to the gorge. According to biblical tradition it was here that Moses when leading the Israeli people out of Egypt hit the rock with a staff and a spring formed. But Moses’s staff was quite crooked therefore the gorge turned out to be not so straight as well. Moses brother Aaron was buried right there on the mountain.

In it’s narrowest part the width of Sika is only 2 m. This is a kingdom of rocks. Their tops melt under the scorching sun and flow down onto the heads of lazy tourists. But in the depth of 100-meter tunnel it’s cool enough for the sandy sides to freeze before they touch the bottom of the fault. Only at noon the sun manages to lick a white perfectly flat surface.

It is a territory of coolness and shadows running along the rocks. They swallow the steps and voices tossing them to the very top of the canyon. And when the next wagon rides along its corridors thousands of horses descend from the upper cliffs onto the heads of visitors.

A narrow road hides ancient graves and small temples dugged in a sandy body. It smoothly leads us to the main shrine of Petra — the Treasury (Al-Khazneh). The Bedouins call it “Al-Jerra” (“Urn”) because there is a 4-meter urn above its portico. According to the legend there are miracle hidden treasures of the pharaohs in this urn that managed to survive till our days. According to another version El Khazne was the tomb of the Nabataean king Aref IV Filopatra.

The 42-meter-high facade of the Treasury resembles the bones of an ancient creature which archaeologists only started to dug out from the ground with their small panicles. Most part of the temple seemed to be grounded in the solid body of terracotta rocks for ever. The design of the building is too diverse so it is unlikely that only local artisans worked on it. The columns and capitals are Corinthian, huge obelisks are Egyptian, and the statue of Tichet (Isis) has an Alexandrian features. There are winged sphinxes, lions, panthers, snakes and dancing Amazons carved on the facade of the building.

To the left of the temple there is a path to the observation deck at the very top of the cliff over the Treasury. At the very beginning you will be most likely intercepted by a Bedouin with a proposal to lead you there for a small fee. Do not resist. Without such an escort people really are not allowed to go there because the track can be quite hard for some. At the top there is already a cool tent with local drinks. But the most important thing is the view from the cliff.

From here the temple appears to be an even more alien subject among rusty rocks.

200 meters from the Treasury there is a pointer to the High Altar. If you spend 35 minutes and climb the stone steps the altar for sacrifices and a gorgeous view of the territory will be your reward.

Another observation deck is Mount Aaron (JabalHarun). At the top there is a small church and the tomb of Aaron the brother of Moses. The path to the top and back will take 4-8 hours, depending on the chosen road.

Further down the main temple road there is the Theater. Masons had to work hard to carve 40 rows of seats in the rock. At first the theater could accommodate 3,000 spectators. The Romans later expanded it to 7,000 visitors. But most of it was destroyed by the earthquake of 663 AD.

Opposite the Roman Theater there are the Royal Tombs. They are much larger than the rest of the graves in the territory but for whom they were originally built it is not clear.

Having passed through the Bedouin shops with local and Chinese souvenirs it remains only to climb to the Tomb with the Urn. Such a name because of the urn on the central pediment. This is one of the Royal Tombs where kings and dignitaries were buried.

In general tombs are scattered throughout the complex. Some served for their intended purpose. In some people were living. Until some time the poorest Bedouins still lived in these caves in the rocks.

If you are lucky you will meet an interesting woman who will differ in appearance from local residents. Her name is Marguerite van Geldermalsen. She was born in New Zealand. In 1978, she came to Jordan on an excursion to Petra and fell in love with the local Bedouin Mohammad Abdullah. Marguerite settled in his cave, learned how to deliver water on a donkey and bake bread, and managed a local clinic. Then their tribe moved to the village of Umm Saykhun on a hillside opposite Petra. There they were selling T-shirts and silver items. Widowed, she lived for several years in Sydney. But then she returned to Jordan. She wrote about all her adventures in the book «Married to a Bedouin» in 2006. In her shop you can buy both a book and her handmade jewelry.

So we are officially finished with Jordan) How was the country to you? Did you like it? Next we will be going to Canary Island Tenerife. It's going to be hot, sunny and so spanish). Are you with me?) MarrySav

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