The wonderful world of Petra
Are you a keen traveller? Or do you enjoy short weekend breaks up the coast? The Chronicle’s weekly travel feature is open for local writers to share their experiences of the places they visit.
Situated among the rugged desert canyons and mountains in Southern Jordan is the world famous, UNESCO world heritage site of Petra.
Dating back to potentially as early as 400 BC, it was once the capital and trading centre of the Nabatean empire.
Literally carved into the rock, both along narrow canyons and up high on mountain faces, this rock cut architecture which rises a few hundred feet above the ground, created a city centre so different from most others and is mind-boggling as to how this was even conceivable back in the ages.
These astonishing intricately detailed shaped public structures, along with its impressive overall planning and engineering to work as a city is what has deservedly given Petra its status as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is what draws the thousands of visitors from across the globe each year.
With 264 square kilometers of this mesmerising archaeological site, there is a need to stay for a minimum of a couple of days in order to be able to visit and enjoy the main sites without having to rush around.
As backpackers who have recently become very keen in photography and do just enjoy soaking up our surroundings when visiting such spectacular destinations, two days for us was a little stretched as we did at times spend significant amounts of times at some magnificent spots.
Although it is undoubtedly the most famous and popular site within Petra, the first siting of the Al-Khazneh (Treasury) really is a moment when you are taken back and are simply lost for words. Having seen hundreds of pictures over the years, watched documentaries and read up about it so much, getting to see it in the flesh was personally a moment I will never forget.
With so many visitors milling around the site, it is difficult to just sit there and enjoy it without being disturbed, however, if you are patient and hang around long enough you might find a gap between the large tour groups when it all becomes very peaceful.
For some that may be enough, but for us, we always look to adventure out to look for something a little different which most don’t look for.
High up and quite a tiring trek around the Tombs, we found ourselves up at a spectacular view point where we were now able to look down at the treasury and take in this wonder.
Although we would probably have to say the treasury was the most impressive, there were still many other beautiful sites which included:
- Five of the tombs which were each positioned alongside one another sitting on the edge of one of the mountains (Urn, Silk, Corinthian, Palace and Sextus Florentinus Tombs).
- Al-Deir (The Monastery) – It is a very tiring 40 - 45 minutes walk to get there but well worth it for both the site and the spectacular views.
- The Theatre.
Throughout our travels, one of our major enjoyments is being able to experience the life of the locals and live life like they do.
Fortunately, whilst in Petra we got a feel for life as a Bedouin as we were invited to stay with one of the local families in their cave within Petra. Set away from the busy touristic sights, we spent the night in a cave up on the side of one of the mountains which had views of some of the monumental sites in the distance.
Basic, extremely basic with no electricity, no kitchen, no bathroom, no facilities at all except a few mattresses and plenty of thick blankets to sleep, but undoubtedly one of our most enjoyable experiences to date.
They made a beautiful traditional meal over the fire as we sat around and listened to many of their stories about their family and how they loved their simple way of life which was pretty special.
Although we were only meant to stay the one night with the family, they then invited us to stay with them for another night but this time on their bit of land out in Little Petra. Here we stayed in a small concrete one room house which again was equally as basic but fantastic experience.
We found that despite their lives lacking so much in terms of materialistic things, their lives were so full of experiences, care and love whereby they were extremely happy with what they had and did not want much else. Our time with the family certainly made us take a leaf out of their book!
To read more about Louise-Anne and Max’s travels check out their blog: www.lifeoutofourbackpack.com
And their Instagram account: @lifeoutofourbackpack