Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Day in Petra

Ann likes to say, “I’ve never met a ruin I didn’t love.”  That’s why we often plan our trips around seeing world-renowned archeological sites, like Pompeii, the Parthenon, and the Pyramids.  (What the… do all the great ruins start with ‘P’?)  Well, add another one to the list: Petra, Jordan.  Petra is the city carved from the mountains in an area of southern Jordan called Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses).  It’s most recognizable structure is the Treasury, made famous in the scene near the end of Indiana Jones and the LastCrusade.  You may have seen it and assumed it was a Hollywood back lot.  No, it’s the real deal… and then some.  Petra isn’t just The Treasury.  It’s a vast complex of caves, tombs, stairs, and temples, all carved into the pink sandstone in the 3rd century BC by the people known as Nabataeans.
 Ann first visited Petra some 40 years ago on a trip with her family, so it was way past time for a return visit for her and my first.  Our trek to Petra was part of a G Adventures tour of Jordan and we spent a full day hiking more than 17 miles up and down the treacherous stairways, through the narrow passages, and in and out of the ancient tombs.  What follows are some of the visual highlights of our breathtaking (literally and figuratively) experience.

The narrow canyon that leads to The Treasury
and the rest of Petra.
Ann & John in front of the iconic Treasury.
A 2-hour hike up 650 steps and across some
treacherous plateaus got us this rare view of
The Treasury from above.
This is an amphitheater - like the rest of Petra - that
was carved out of the existing rock.
These are known as the Royal Tombs.
A closer look at one of the Royal Tombs, this one
called the Silk Tomb.  It takes its name from the
colorful ribbons of ancient stone that are said
to look like silk fabric.
Perhaps the most impressive structure at Petra, The Monastery.  For scale, note the people standing in front.
You can also see by the outcropping of stone on the right side of the picture how deeply this building was
carved into the mountain.