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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Friday, 20 Sep 2019

Location: Petra, Jordan

MapWhat is there to say about today other than fabulous and remarkable!

The ancient archaeological site is just ten minute tea drive from the hotel and we set off at seven to avoid the 31 degrees of heat and the crowds. A good ploy although we did spend nine hours exploring.

The morning was taken up with a guided tour and it was just fascinating. Once through the dozens of hawkers, many of them children, and the dozens of camel, donkey and horse and cart drivers offering rides at extortionate prices, we were reasonably left alone to enjoy the monuments.

It is not known when the city was built but it began to prosper in the first century BC as the capital of the Nabatean Empire which grew rich through its trade in frankincense, myrrh and spices. It was later annexed to the Roman Empire and a lot of the original Roman Road remains in incredibly good condition.

Petra certainly could not ever disappoint anyone! It is a marvel worthy of its inclusion in one of the ne Seven Wonders of the World. It is a World Heritage Site and is such a memorable place. From the entrance, there is a half mile walk to the Bab Al Siq which is the gateway to the city. Brilliant for defence, this is a natural split in the mountain, about ten feet wide and 300 feet high.
Also known as the Rose red city because of the colour of the rock, there is plenty of colour in this gorge. Running along each side are cleverly designed water channels which divert the water down to a constructed basin in the city.
Here and there are monument, tombs and niches leading down to the main start of the necropolis area of the city where the Nabataens built tombs with intricate carvings to bury their dead. The main tomb is the remarkable
the Treasury which comes surprisingly into view with such a wow moment, appearing as a sort of mirage when the ravine can't get any narrower.
A spectacular place. The facade is forty metres high. The carvers were extremely skilful taking six years to complete. Work sensibly began cutting into the mountainside from the top. Archaeologists discovered a third layer thirty metres below the ground and some of this has been revealed. This proves that the floor of the ravine was originally so much lower (about thirty metres) but has been built up by debris deposited over time by flash floods.

We continued to walk down the ravine past numerous tombs towards the main area of the city where the people lived in the caves in the mountainside. There are even temples, churches, a colonnaded street, a Roman style amphitheatre.

The earthquake in 363 AD and changes in trading eventually lead to the abandonment of the city until it was rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer. And subsequently, the excavations and restoration began.

Thank fully. And we learned that we had completed an almost seven mile walk!!

And so we returned to our hotel very tired but very happy bunnies having survived and dodged the escaping, charging mules and donkeys along the way.

Our last night in this lovely hotel, which we have learned was originally the old village. The site was settled in the 1800s by the local tribe called Al Nawafleh who used abundant stones to construct homes and establish a village which today forms the hotel complex. Over a period of time the surrounding land was terraced and planted with olive and fruit trees and farmed by local tribes members ....the site was redeveloped and is currently run by the leader of the tribe after the villagers left in 1975 to resettle in the new city of Petra. The staff are all members of the same tribe and the income generated by the surrounding land and the hotel is used within the community for social help and support.

It is a lovely place and one we can thoroughly recommend.