Sunday, October 15, 2023

Israel/Egypt/Jordan 2023 - Day #19 - Petra


A Breathtaking Rose-Red Ancient City

Tour the awe-inspiring city of Petra, carved into towering cliffs more than two millennia ago.

Nomadic Nabataeans sought refuge in this secluded enclave and created this fortress city, ideally situated on the trade route from Yemen to Syria. Soon, Petra grew into such an important stopover on the route that it controlled the flow of goods, particularly frankincense, valued more highly than gold as it was burned on altars all across the known world. With their wealth, the Nabataeans sculpted their glorious rose-colored city of imposing buildings and monuments, today among the best preserved from that time. Meet your guide and drive into the desert to reach the rugged hills that protected the ancient city during its heyday. Then walk through the famed Siq, the enormous fissure in the rock wall that leads to a stunning view of the Treasury and the incredible repository of rock-carved wonders beyond.

Traditional Home-Hosted Dinner

Sample a Selection of Jordanian Delicacies at a Local Residence

Meet a local family and enjoy a warm welcome as you share a traditional evening meal.

As well as its array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and desert landscapes, Jordan is known for its friendly Arabic hospitality. At the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa, Jordan’s culture has always been influenced by its neighbors yet still maintains a strong identity with its long-standing traditions. Set out and join a Jordanian family for an evening of discovery as you sample a delicious range of home-cooked fare and learn about regional customs. Your taste buds will be tantalized as you savor freshly prepared dishes using local ingredients, delicately seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and flavors. And no Jordanian meal is complete without a helping of tasty homemade flatbread. Your appetite sated, you will then bid farewell to your hosts and return to your hotel.
Like the day in Giza with the Grand Pyramids, this was one of the days that I was most looking forward to on the trip.

Petra was founded by the Nabateans, an Arab people who flourished in the region from the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD. The Nabateans were skilled traders. Petra became a major crossroads on the trade routes between Arabia, Egypt, and Syria. Petra was abandoned in the 6th century AD. It was not rediscovered by Europeans until the early 19th century.

The guide planned an early start. Up at 5 am with breakfast at 6 am, the group left the hotel at 7 am. The Movenpick Petra is located across the street from the visitor's center and the entry to Petra!

The morning walk through Al Siq was amazing. The Siq is a narrow canyon that leads to the city of Petra. It is about 3/4's of mile long and up to 250 feet high. The canyon was deeper than I expected. The walls are made of red sandstone. They are carved with Nabataean inscriptions and carvings.

Leaving the canyon, we stumbled on to the Treasury. It is the most famous landmark in Petra. The Treasury is thought to have been built as a mausoleum and crypt for the Nabataean king Aretas IV Philopatris in the 1st century AD.

After the Treasury, we came to a large open area called the Street of Facades. This is a long, narrow street lined with the facades of rock-cut tombs. The tombs are decorated with a variety of architectural styles, including Egyptian, Greek, and Roman.

Staying on the main road, we passed the Theatre. Carved into the hillside in the 1st century AD, it could hold up to 8,500 spectators.
Passing the Royal Tombs on the hillside on the right, we walked down the Colonnaded Street. It is a long, wide street lined with columns and porticoes. The street was built by the Nabateans in the 1st century BC and was further embellished during the Roman period. It was the main commercial street in Petra and was lined with shops, markets, and other businesses. The southern end of the Colonnaded Street is marked by Hadrian's Gate, also known as the Temenos Gate.
The guided Viking excursion ended at a cafe just beyond the Colonnaded Street. After a short break, the Gainsleys, Leclaires, Larkin and I decided to continue to the Monastery. It was about a mile climb to the Monastery. It is the largest monument in Petra. The Monastery is thought to have been built as a church in the 4th century AD.
On the way down from the Monastery, Larkin and I split from the group and went looking for Sharon and Cindy. We caught up with them just as they were coming down from the Royal Tombs. The four of us hiked out of Petra and back through the Siq.

I really enjoyed Petra. Although I am posting these pictures, I feel like the photos don’t do justice to the scale of Petra. In total, we covered more than 10 miles.

The whole group had a late lunch at the Cave Bar. I had an unusual take on a club sandwich (beef and egg!).
Back at the hotel, Sharon and I slept for a little bit. After getting cleaned up and meeting for a drink in the bar, the Gainsleys and Heringers went on Viking Traditional Home-Hosted Dinner excursion. The four of us plus the guide went to a local residence for dinner. This needs a whole separate blog entry; I will add one in the next several weeks. We had the opportunity to sample a selection of Jordanian delicacies and meet the family.
With an early start planned for the next day, Sharon and I crashed about 9:15 pm...

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