Jordan’s main drawcard is Petra, a World Heritage-listed site that was voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 also known as the Lost City of Petra.
Lost City of Petra
I ride a horse down to the entrance of the 1.2km gorge, known as The Siq, then dismount and walk through the Siq to the much-photographed Al-Khazneh (Treasury).
Even though I’ve seen photos of the Treasury in brochures, magazines and in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, the sight of the temple carved in rock fills me with awe.
It’s much taller than I had imagined. Carved out of the dusky pink rock-face, the soaring façade dwarfs the people and camels milling around in front of it.
What’s most amazing is that the intricate carvings in Petra Jordan were done more than two thousand years ago by the Nabataeans.
Beyond the Treasury
Most people associate Petra in Jordan with the Treasury but the famous sight is only one of hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs in the Petra Archaeological Park.
There are obelisks, temples and sacrificial altars. There’s a Roman-style theatre large enough for 3,000 people and two museums.
Overlooking the valley, the Ad-Deir Monastery can be reached by climbing 800 rock-cut steps. In its heyday about 30,000 people lived in Petra Jordan, thriving on trading incense and spice, and carving these magnificent tombs and temples.
Spending one day at Petra Jordan is enough to offer a taste of its charms but you need a few days to explore the area thoroughly.
After hours of walking, I succumb to a persistent nagging of a young Bedouin boy who allows me to ride on the back of his donkey for five dinar (about $7).
The sure-footed donkey climbs the steep steps to Al Madbah (High Place of Sacrifice) where Nabataean priests made offerings to their gods and where the views over the ancient city are inspirational.
The chief Nabataean deities were Dushara, symbolized by an obelisk, the goddess Al-Uzza, symbolized by a lion, and the goddess Allat, associated with natural springs.
An old Bedouin woman sits on a rock admiring the view. As I take a seat next to her, she picks up a stone from the ground and hands it to me.
The gesture is one that sticks in my mind and the stone sits on my desk as a momento of my visit to Jordan.
Christina Pfeiffer was a guest of Cruise Traveller and Emirates Airline