Petra, Jordan

Posted: June 18, 2012 in Places to Go
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Petra, the Siq

The entrance to the old city of Petra is through a 1 Km long gorge, the Siq, surrounded by 80 meters high cliffs.

In order to enter the old city you need to pay for an entrance fee. There are one-, two- and three-day tickets. If you have the time, stay in Petra two or three days. The archeological site is huge. You will enjoy the site much more if you visit it in several days.

You can get to Petra from Amman by car, by public bus, by taxi or on an organized tour. The ride from the capital of Jordan takes about three hours. If you plan to travel around Jordan, I recommend renting a car.

From Wadi Rum by road it takes about one and a half hours. There are daily public buses from the two destinations.

Petra, the Siq

From Aqaba, you can take a public bus or a taxi. It takes about three hours.  It is also possible to get to Petra from Eliat, Israel, and Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.

If walking in the Siq is already a thrilling experience, wait till you get to its end, from where you have the first glimpse of the Treasury. Remember Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? The real thing is even more impressing.

Petra, the Siq and the Treasury

In the picture you can see part of the facade of the Treasury through the cliffs of the Siq.

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The Treasury, Known in Arabic as Al-Khazneh, is the top tourist attraction in Petra.

It was constructed as the tomb of a Nabatean King in the 1st century. Nabateans were a nomad tribe that settled down in this region around the second century BC, and made of Petra the capital of their empire. Their rule lasted till the Romans conquered this land at the beginning of the 2nd century AC.

Petra, The Treasury

The Treasury, as most of the tombs in Petra, is carved out of the rock. Its facade is more than 40 meters high and 30 meters wide, and is decorated with Nabetaen mythological deities.

Petra, The Treasury

Its Arabic name, Al-Khaznhe (the Pharaoh’s Treasury), makes reference to the myth that a treasure was hidden in the urn at the top of the building.

Petra is a huge site. If you have only one day, I recommend you get there as soon as the park opens its doors (6h00 or 6h30 AM), in order to have time to see everything.

Petra, sun rising

If you want to enjoy the Treasury and some other landmarks in Petra without the tourists hordes, it is also a good idea to get there as soon as possible.

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Following the path from the Treasury you will get to the Street of Facades, a cliff with many tombs.

Petra, Street of Facades

Some of the tombs have only the facade, and a few others have the facade and a small room.

After the Siq, and before you reach the Visitors Center, on your right hand side, you will find the Obelisk Tomb.

47.- Petra, Obelisk Tomb

It was built at the second half of the first century in order to bury the corpse of Abdomanchos, son of Achaios, and his family.

These smaller tombs belong to the less rich Nabateans citizens.

Petra, Street of Facades

After the arrival of the Romans, Petra continued its expansion. It became the trading and commercial capital of the region. An earthquake at the end of the 7th century AD destroyed the city’s water system, and Petra soon came into decline. Petra was abandoned in the 12th century AD, with the conquest by Saladin of the Middle East.

One of them is the Aneisho Tomb, from the first century AD, probably built to bury the corpse of a minister of Queen Shaqilath II (AD 70-76).

Petra, the Silk Tomb

Next to it, the Urn Tomb. It is thought to be the tomb of the king Malchus II. It dates from the first half of the first century AD.

The Silk Tomb, in the picture, is a smaller tomb. It has a beautiful facade where visitors can see the different colors of the layers of the mountain’s rock.

36.-Petra, the Corinthian Tomb

The Corinthian Tombs, although badly damaged, is one of the most beautiful facades in this area. Experts think it was built during the times of Malichus II (AD 40-70).

Petra, another tomb

In this picture you can see another of the tombs, as the others carved out of the rock.

Most of the tombs’ halls are rather austere, but some of them have some decoration. In this tomb you can see the pillars of the room carved out of the rock.

41.- Petra, inside a Royal Tomb

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After the Street of the Facades you will get to the Theater, entirely carved out of the rock. Originally built by the Nabateans, it was further expanded by the Romans.

Petra, The Theater

In front of the theater are the Royal Tombs, but we will follow the main street and continue onto the City Center.

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The City Center is an area full of ruins from the Nabateans and the Roman times.

Petra, the City Center

Some of the buildings are: the Nymphaeum, not much remains of this public fountain; the Colonnaded Street, a Roman paved road flanked by columns; the Temple of the Winged Lions, dedicated to the main Nabatean Goddess Al-Uzza; the Arched Gate, built by the Romans; and the biggest building in town, the Qasr Al-Bint temple, dedicated to Dushuara, god of the Nabateans.

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The Monastery is the biggest construction in Petra’s archeological site. Its facade is more than 40 meters wide, and its main gate 8 meters high.

Petra, the Monastery

In front of the Monastery is a big esplanade, where historians say big crowds met in order to follow the religious ceremonies.

Petra, the Monastery

A big chamber was carved out of the rock, but it is rather sober compared to the richly decorated facade.

This is a detailed view of the facade of the Monastery. As everything else here, it as carved out of the mountain rock.

Petra, the Monastery, detail

Around the Monastery there are many view points from where you can see the surrounding mountains and gorges.

Petra, the Monastery, Wadi Araba

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On the way to the Monastery from the City Center, or on the way back, you will find the Lion Triclinium, a small temple dedicated to the Nabataean goddess of Al-Uzza.

Petra, the Monastery, Lion Triclinium

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From downtown Petra you have a nice view of the Royal Tombs. They were built during the Nabatean period to bury their leaders.

Petra, the Royal Tombs

One of the tombs one can see on the way is the Renaissance Tomb, in the picture, carved around 129 AD.

Petra, the Renaissance Tomb

Another of the tombs one can find on this area of Petra is the Roman Soldier’s Tomb. It is still not known when this tomb was created. Either during the Nabateans times, or after the 106 AD annexation of Petra by the Romans.

Petra, The Roman Soldier's Tomb

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It is still not clear what the function of the Garden Temple Complex was. Whatever it was, it had to do with the Nabataean water system that favored the developed of Petra.

Petra, the Garden Temple Complex

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The High Place of Sacrifice sits on the summit of Jabal Madhbah. Here is where the sacrifice of animals took place in honor of the main Nabatean gods, Dushara and al-‘Uzza.

33.- Petra, the High Place of Sacrifice

Source:  http://www.virtourist.com/asia/jordan/petra/index.html

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