Petra - the Rose City

There are no words for Petra.  It is simply one of the most special places on the planet.  When I was there twenty years ago, I was surrounded by people trying to impress me with their personal encounters with Harrison Ford, who had just finished filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  This time, I was able to take in the Nabatean sites with Khalid Twessy perhaps one of the best of the guides I have ever had.

I think that if there is one thing that I learned in Petra , it’s that archaeological sites are alive!  Walking into the site, we could see a red line in the stone about two meters above our heads.  This is the excavation line. It was at the level of that line that I walked on dusty path twenty years ago.  Now I was walking on the original Nabatean road.  In addition, we would see a church filled with amazing mosaics, a temple, and several tombs which had been buried in the sands the last time that I was there.

The Nabateans built Petra in the third century BCE. They took advantage of the breath-taking rock formations of the area and carved down into the stone to build their rose colored city. Passing through the canyon and then entering into the actual city is a very special moment. The treasury is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen. The facades of the buildings tell the story of the people who built them. The stairs which are carved above the doors are reminiscent of the ziggurats of Sumaria – or modern day Iraq. Obelisks are carved into the tombs – indicating that they had active trade with Egypt.  And attempts at Corinthian columns show that they, like so many people today, could not but be impressed with the architecture of the Greeks.

When we were at the site, there were a large number of Sri Lanka and Chinese tourists.  We were rather surprised, as these are not the typical tourists that we encounter when we travel. Khalid explained that they were there because it was the end of Ramadan and that they had the day off.  Apparently. Jordan purchased Chinese prisoners - predominantly women - to work in their factories. The Jordanians train the women, and the women live a life of freedom in Jordan – albeit one of exile.  

Our first day we spent eight hours at the site.  We were exhausted when we got back to the Hotel – but Mövenpick icecream saved the day.


The Indiana Jones Snack Shop lives on
The Treasury
Nabatean homes carved into the rock face
Walking into Petra
Typical door to Nabatean home
A carriage driving into the ancient city