Ever heard of Indian Jones and the last crusade? I kind of remember the film but not entirely, but one thing I do remember was that canyon scene where they are riding horses through the tiny crevissed opening and then popping up in front of these amazing looking building carved out of stone. Well, that is Petra “the red rose city”, at least one small part of it.
Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. After Saladin’s conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.
The ruins remained hidden to most of the world until the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812. Burckhardt’s accounts of his travels inspired other Western explorers and historians to discover the ancient city further. The most famous of these was David Roberts, a Scottish artist who created a number of accurate and detailed illustrations of the city in 1839.
The first real excavations of the site were in 1929 after the forming of Trans-Jordan. Since that time, Petra has become by far Jordan’s largest tourist attraction, partially due to the exposure by the Steven Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in 1989. Due to the fantastic engineering accomplishments and well-preserved dimension of Petra, the archaeological site was chosen in July 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
You have just been cut and pasted. Oh well.
Petra was a quick three hour bus ride from Aqaba. On the bus was a Japanese backpacker named (I don’t remember. He actually told me but it was a Japanese name and I have a hard time with more normal to me English names. In my defense he couldn’t remember Steve so he called me Nakano for a while and then when he found out my middle name Kazuo, he had it no problem. So if it had been fair and his middle name was Bob or Chuck, I would have probably remembered it.) Anyways, we ended up hanging out for the three days we were there and taking in the sites of Petra. I do have to say that it was a bit trying, a bit fun, a bit hilarious, and a bit disconcerting. The guy was a smile and laugh kind of guy who didn’t have the greatest grasp of English, but he did try hard. It was good that he was not afraid to just walk up to people and talk to them, but he also had this weird thing about taking pictures of other people that got us some weird looks. He hadn’t quite gotten the jist that people would rip you off, so he was kind of an easy target. I quickly took away all negotiations from him as that would have killed me. It was good fun when people asked us where we were from. He tried to explain it to some Japanese tourists that we met, but they just didn’t get it. I just don’t fit in anywhere.
Back to Petra. Petra is a huge complex of tombs, monuments, and Temples. It encompasses about a six kilometer square and takes a few days to explore. We did most of it in one with the exception of a few walks that exited out of the site. We were blasted when we were finished. I guess a few pictures would do more justice so I will leave it at that.
I would have to put Petra down as one of the must-see things. It could have been better if there were more internal things to see like all the stuff they pulled out of the Egyptian tombs and pyramids. Most of Petra is strictly a look at the outsides which are still impressive.
Tags: Jordan, Petra, Travel