One of the 7 New World Wonders
On 07.07.2007 there was an announcement of the New 7 World Wonders. There is no ranking of the seven, they all share an equal status, and on this list is Petra along with the taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Chichen Itza the Colosseum, Christ the Redeemer, and Machu Picchu. We learned this when we went to visit the site. What little we knew was that this was the place where you see a city appear as you round the corner of a slot canyon and an amazing structure is revealed. What we learned when we got there was that this was a burial site - a Necropolis - and the there was a lot more than that one building that is so famous.
In a full day, we saw a little bit of a lot. It is hot and open to the sun, and we did take a few breaks under tented cafes or a shaded tomb along the way. I could certainly see taking two days or a day and a half to get a full experience, and we were fortunate enough to have an excellent guide for the first few hours of the day. Vendors line the paths to the sites once you make it past the Siq, and a water bottle is usually needed, so bring a backpack or a tote bag to be sure you can carry what you need and what you want. We went though several bottles of water not including lunch and a stop for sodas in a cafe. Sun screen was very neccessary as well as a hat or head covering, and sunglasses topped off the gear. Extra batteries and film/memory disks were a must for us as you can tell below. We took a couple hundred photos.
Early the next morning we met our personal guide who would walk us through Petra, tell us about the site, and then leave us to our own devices once we hit the end of the time we had paid for. After purchasing our entrance tickets, we were offered the option to ride horses to the main entrance along what is known as the Baab as-Siq (Door to the winding and narrow canyon narrow canyon). This looked like fun, and the horses came from a program set up by the Queen to educate locals on horsemanship and good treatment of the animals. The Baab as-Siq has a horse path on one side and a pedestrian path on the other and is about a half mile long.
We walked the length of the winding canyon and saw how they had carved an irrigation system that was a channel along side of the canyon walls. There had not been rain in a while so they remained dry that day, but the extent of these canals was very extensive.
We stopped along the way to hear about the history and to dodge the horse drawn carriages that some visitors opted for to get to the other end of the canyon. They made the place feel like the olden days of travel in the area. I wanted to ride these, too, but my guide convinced me we would not be able to stop along the way and look at things if we were to do that. I agreed with this, but next time I think I will opt for the carriage. They are certainly a wonderful option for someone visiting with limited mobility, as this will bring them to the main site without having to walk the mile along the canyon.
Coming to the end of the canyon and seeing the fabled structures come to life before our eyes was something in life that is like nothing else. I was afraid to peek because the moment would be over, but on the other hand I could not wait to see what we had traveled so far to see.
Street of Facades and Tombs
After visiting the Treasury, we headed into the site along the Street of Facades and up to the Tombs, where our guide gave us interesting information about the site, the evolution of the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets from Aramaic, and we had an amazing view of the Street of Facades. We also got to see remains of pottery and took an immense amount of photos.
Jabal Al-Deir (The Monastery)
After seeing the tombs, our guide took us through the Colonnaded Street and pointed out where we could eat lunch. We continued on to the Museums to complete our tour. We were on our own and I decided, against Bill's better judgement, that we hire donkeys to take us up to Jabal al-Deir. My donkey was fine, but Bill kept sliding off sidewards and we had to stop several times along the steep ledge to fix his blankets. Even with the stops, we got to the top in a shorter amount of time than those stoically walking the path. This allowed us time to slowly explore the places at the top. We spent some time with someone who had a shop at the top, where we had tea and talked about our common hobby of photography. He pointed out Aaron's Tomb (Moses' brother) on the top of a mountain across from us, and told us about the valley below.
We bid our farewells and headed back down the path on our own two feet, as we had hired the donkeys for one way service. Along the path there are vendors selling crafts and jewelry, and we took advantage of what a girl called "the blue light special". She gave Bill a bracelet as a gift when it was time to leave so he could remember her. I thought that was cute!
This was a little more confusing since we were not part of a large group tour, but there is a buffet in a restaurant near the Colonnaded Street (where things look Roman), and we went inside to eat. We did not have reservations, which was confusing to the people there, and we were not with a group, which was again confusing, however they did allow us to pay for lunch and sodas and provided a table for us anyway. We still do not know if this is what we were supposed to do or not. We were famished and were very thankful for the good food provided before us. There was another snack area by the Theater that served sodas but not a buffet meal.
Qasr Al-Bint and the Colonnaded Street Area
We spent time wandering around Qasr Al-Bint and the other structures nearby that were Roman. There were sections where you could still see the paint on the walls and columns. We probably spent an hour just in this part alone as there was a lot to walk around and see and you can go up into the structures on the hillside.
On another website, we saw this referred to as the Royal Tombs. It took a bit of hiking up hill and crossing over some questionable bridges (shown above on right), but we finally found ourselves up to the tombs that we had not visited on our tour. Our first joy was finding a man who had his gift shop at the tomb and we were able to buy bottles of water and sit down for a while and look around. Walking along the tombs back to the area by the Theater probably took us another hour as we had to look at everything along the way. Few visitors come up this far, maybe because it was later in the day or maybe because it is strenuous.
Jebel al-Madbah (Mountain of the Altar)
For our final stop of the day we took a side trail up to Jebel al-Madbah to see the High Palace of Sacrifice. It was late in the day and we only saw a few other people up here. the hike was pretty and the view from the top was extraordinary. We visited the structures and then sat at the top to rest. We heard bombs going off over in Israel which was a little disconcerting, but the time spent up there was priceless.
Leaving the Necropolis
On the way out we negotiated two camels for about $10 to carry us back to the entrance. It was the end of the day and the camel owners were ready to go home and not return until the next day. There was hardly anyone left in the park, so that helped with the negotiations. Bill rode Zu Zu the camel, who had a nice temperament, which was a first for animals rode by Bill. My feet were at their ends and finally getting a camel ride in Jordan was accomplished.
We washed up and had a fantastic local dinner and then returned to Petra at night for the Luminary Show