Petra is amazing! Imagine a smaller Grand Canyon with incredible buildings, tombs and caves that were carved into the cliffs 2300 years ago.
Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans who had a “mercantile empire” for hundreds of years in the Levant. Their culture was lost after the Romans took over around 300 AD. Today, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and on the Smithsonian’s short list of places to see before you die (a list that I am currently reviewing…).
Unfortunately, the photos here that are not stock were shot with my iphone, which doesn’t show colors well. I lost my camera yesterday. And nope it wasn’t stolen. Jordanians don’t steal stuff.
With said iphone, the hiking boots I have been hauling around but not wearing for two months, and a bottle of water, I left my hotel early to beat the heat and the crowds. The big hike is to the Monastery which is about 6 miles with 800 steps of stone carved into the hillside for the last mile or so. I figured I was ready for it since I survived the hike to the Citadel!
Some people ride donkeys up the canyon to the Monastery but not me. Seems kind of gringo. Well, and I might fall off the cliff.
Bedouins who run souvenir and snack stands along the last mile cheered me on (while making me promise to return to buy something), which helped a lot actually. And it wasn’t that hard because Petra feels so spiritual and so exhilarating. I just wanted to keep going.
It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.
English poet John Burgon, 1845