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.

John Burgon  (See the whole poem below)

On April 19, I accomplished something magical (and visited a new country). Seeing a place that had been on my to-see list since before I realized I had one or that it would be possible to ever see any of them. We were on our way to Petra, home of the ancient ruins built in 300 BC by the Nabataeans.

SIGHTS FROM THE DRIVE

Excitement increased as we grew closer, chipping away at the two-hour drive little by little. The amazing desert views along the way sped up our commute from the port of Aqaba, but only a little.

DESERT CAMP CAMEL SHEPHERD HERDING GOATS DONKEY ABOVE BLANKETS DRYING WALKING ALONG ROUTE JORDAN DESERT PANOVILLAGE OUTSIDE OF PETRA PETRA SIGN

As crew members in port for one day only, we were warned that in order to properly view Petra in its entirety, visitors require a stay of at least three days. Rob made sure to remind me of this fact in an attempt to console my disappointment in missing some of the most beautiful spots. As you can see on the map below, the site is quite large. The Siq (the white line between the Obelisk Tomb and Khazneh Al Firaun) itself is about a mile in length, and the entrance is a bit of a trek from the visitors center.

PETRA MAP
VIA Petra Wikipedia Page

TO THE ENTRANCE

Once we arrived and made our way to the entrance of the Siq, everyone dispersed, each eager to find what specifically awaited them on this day, whether it be the mystifying history of the site, photo opportunities, donkey and camel rides, souvenir shopping, or a hastened attempt at all of the above.

RIDING BACK FOR MOREOBELISK TOMB HORSE WAITING RELAXING AT SIQ ENTRANCE

THE SIQ

Words cannot describe the curves and colors of the Siq (the narrow gorge naturally created by a shift in tectonic forces) as it winds itself to the Treasury.  At some points, the sides reach up to 600 feet high.  The ground, dusty and uneven, full of historical footprints throughout thousands of years of its existence.  The sounds echo around every bend – camera shutters, horse hooves, carriage wheels, rocks crunching underfoot.  It’s warm, but thankfully downhill.  At every curve, I felt myself craning to see if this was the bend that would reveal the Treasury.

WATER WAYS THROUGH SIQ COMING THROUGH ON HORSE CARTSIGHT OF THE SIQ LOUNGING AT THE SIQSTATUE IN THE SIQ PETRA SIQ PANO

THE TREASURY

After 20 minutes or so of taking in the amazing surroundings, we approached a clump of tip-toed visitors, cameras and tablets held high.  This was it – we made it! 

That moment the treasury first comes into view takes your breath away.  Emerging from the dim shadows of the Siq, the Khazneh Al Firaun, as the Treasury is also known, towers above, brightly illuminated by the sun’s blinding rays.  It’s an amazing contrast, as if it was purposely planned to strike awe in every visitor.  Indiana Jones’ Last Crusade has nothing on stepping into the reality of its presence, although its theme song played on loop in my head throughout our entire visit.

FIRST SIGHT OF TREASURY HORSE CARRIAGE THROUGH THE SIQ LOCALS AT THE TREASURY

MORE PETRA

I didn’t realize how much there was to see at Petra beyond the Treasury.  We only got to a small portion, but what we did see was truly incredible.

WAITING DONKEYS
Yes, this donkey is smiling.

DOG AND DONKEYPETRA VIEW PANO SQUARED OFF BUILDINGS CAMEL CROSSING TOMB PETRA AMPHITHEATERDONKEY LOVE LOOKING OUT THE CARVED WINDOWS BUILDINGS CUT INTO ROCK RIDING BEYOND THE SOUVENIRSMYRRH FOR SALE

LEAVING PETRA

On our way out, we took a few parting shots, pet the camel, and tried to take as much of it into memory as possible.  Leaving this place behind was no easy task, but I can definitely see the possibility of us returning to experience a more in depth exploration of the site.  Hiking back through the Siq is much more difficult, uphill the whole way.  But it’s worth it!

HEAD-ON CAMEL PETRA TREASURY CAMELLEAVING PETRA

PETRA’S PEOPLE

I have always been quite shy (or as my friend said, ‘respectful’) about asking to take strangers’ portraits.  That said, I finally worked up the courage to start asking people.  No one refused this time so hopefully my confidence can remain for next time.  I think most turned out very well!

CAMEL RIDINGSELLING POSTCARDSCREATING SAND ARTHOLDING CATSPICE SALESMAN AT PETRA LOOKING DOWN FROM CAMELSELLING POSTCARDS POSED IN THE SIQ FINDING THE EXIT FRIENDLY PETRA VENDOR

THE POEM, PETRA

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.

-John William Burgon

AQABA SAILAWAY

To end our beautiful day, we were treated to some gorgeous views at sailaway and a lovely sunset to remember Jordan by.

AQABA PORT MOSQUE AT AQABA SUNSET LEAVING AQABA

 

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