Petra, one of the world’s most impressive and atmospheric archaeological sites, once thriving metropolis,then forgotten for more then 500 years, before rediscovered again, is nowadays one of the most visited or desire-to-visit city on Earth. The visit of Petra in the afternoon of 12 April, 2017 has marked the highlight of my entire 6 months at sea and the memory of which are still so live.
Docked in the only port city, Jordan has, a crew tour was organize for the all adventurous dreamers just like me, to take us on a daily trip from Aqaba to Petra and back. We were about 40 members with fantastic guide, who told us stories after stories about Petra, some historical facts, some not so much, but still interesting from its establishments until it rediscovery and being the place, where some of the Hollywood classics were filmed at.
The distance between Aqaba to Petra was covered for an hour and half. We had a lunch arrange for us at the Petra Palace Hotel, from where there was a short walk to the Visitor Center of Petra. The day, we were visiting the city of Petra, there were not really a lot of tourists or way less than I expected, so it was fast to get the tickets ( actually, once you are with a guide, he or she would take care about it) followed by literally run, all, let’s run time. We had less then 4 hours all together and a lot to see.
From the ticket center to the entrance of the Siq, that leads you to the Treasure, there is a distance of 1,5 km, which by your wish and physical condition could be covered either by feet or you could take a horse ride, which is included in the price of the ticket. That ride is only to the entrance of the Siq. As our group was entirely fit and mentioned above, we literally took that distance almost jogging and taking pictures while moving. Once in the Siq, it was amazing feeling – it was slightly cooler then in the outside, you could hear the echos of the people talking, locals girls singing, the noise from the horses and the horse carriages.
Little advice here, when walking in the Siq, even if you tend to walk in the middle of the path, don’t do it, stay in the most left or right sides, as a horse might run over…. Also, do have enough water with you, wear comfortable closed shoes if possible, a hat to cover and protect you from the sun while at the outside and something to cover yourself in case you visit some of the tombs as the temperature in there is lightly lower then when outside.
After about 15 minutes walking in the Siq and admiring some of the signs of its walls, wondering about the water channels surrounding both sides, there it was in the front, the biggest and most famous of Petra’s temples – The Treasury. Located magnificently in the end of the Siq, it was believed that The Treasury of the Pharaoh was a magical creation of a great wizard who had deposited treasure in its urns. Just follow the path to the right and you will shortly find yourself at one of the next scenes of the movie of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” namely the Royal Tombs, the Theater and the steps leading to the Monastery. If you wonder, if we managed to visit all that within the 4 hours, the answer is yes. There was even time to buy souvenirs, have another Arab coffee and my favourite lime-mint homemade lemonade.
Walking the Siq, it was also to be seen that it was paved. Word has it, there were the the Nabataeans, which were among the first inhabitants, who paved the Siq around the 1st century AD. The Nabataeans were considered as adventurous architects, inspired by other cultures. Just a look at the Theater ( inspired by the Romans) or the roofs of the tombs ( similar to Greek constructions) was enough to proof the above. As merchants and entrepreneurs, they were the once, that made Petra center of rich and powerful kingdom, setting fear even among the Romans. After losing a war against, Petra become a Roman province, but a strong earthquake in the 1st century AD destroyed some of the sites and led to the city to being forgotten. Only in the year of 1812, the Swiss explorer Johann L. Buckhardt rediscovered the ancient city of Petra, the story of which was also very interesting.
Added in the UNESCO list for World Heritage, Petra is worth of visiting with an overnight or more, and the Treasure visiting in the evening to enjoy the night show of music and lights…