Posted by: vlibrizzi | August 10, 2010

Exploring Petra

We spent our third day in Jordan visiting the ancient ruins of Petra!
We arrived in Petra on our second night, and checked into our fabulous hotel (the Movenpick Petra) which is right across the street from the Petra Visitor’s Center and main entrance.

We had a barbeque dinner on the roofdeck under the stars, and could have stayed out there all night. It was the perfect temperature in the mountains…only about 75 degrees and minimal humidity. What a welcome change from the oppressive Abu Dhabi heat!

We woke up very early the next morning to be some of the first people to visit Petra…and to avoid the hoards of tour groups who descend on the ruins at around 8 a.m.

To access the ancient ruins and tombs of Petra, the lost city of the Nabataeans, visitors have to walk about 20 minutes downhill through the Siq, or passageway through the enormous rocks.

The passageway is not manmade; instead it was naturally formed when two tectonic plates separated thousands and thousands of years ago.

The Nabataeans sure knew how to create a dramatic entrance to their burial grounds…even in the 6th century BC, when they carved the tombs out of the rocks!

After walking through the Siq’s maze for 20 minutes, the rocks separate, and you are standing right in front of a massive, carved structure: the Treasury building.

Treasury, here, is a misnomer, because, in fact, it was not  a treasury at all, but a tomb created probably for a Nabataean king.

No matter what the building was carved for, it surely is an impressive way to enter the ruins!

Then, once we get over the grandeur of the Treasury, we walked downhill to the explore the other tombs carved in the rocks thousands of years ago.

The best part about getting to Petra so early was that we had a pretty much unobstructed view of all of the ruins. It felt a bit eerie walking past the tombs with few other people in sight, but at the same time, it was pretty cool to have the place almost all to ourselves.

Here are some more tombs we saw that did not withstand the weather as well as the others, and are now vanishing back into the rocks.

One can only imagine what this place must have looked like thousands of years ago. Pretty impressive!

After seeing most of the tombs along the road, we became adventurous and decided to climb the more than 800 steps and long trails (yikes!) to the second most impressive tomb (next to the Treasury): the Monastery.

The Monastary was carved on the top of a hill, and was probably used as a pilgrimage site.

So we went on a bit of a pilgrimage ourselves, uphill, in the heat. 

We weren’t alone on our journey, though. By that time, there were many other tourists climbing the steps with us, and there were also lots of locals who set up stands along the way (like the one in the photo above) to sell drinks and snacks to weary hikers.

The hike was totally worth it once we got to the top and (boom!) there was the Monastery right in front of us!

Here’s a closer view of the intricate carvings on the exterior of the Monastery.

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped to take some photos of the valley below.

Then, once we reached the bottom,  we re-charged by having lunch at a great restaurant at the base of the mountain, and were off to explore some more.

The photo above is of us standing in front of the Royal Tombs.

Then, Chris (who never gets tired, and loves exploring) climbed to the top of another hill to walk through the Royal Tombs. I was exhausted by then, and very hot, so I rested in the shade while he explored and took photos of the Royal Tombs close up, like the one above.

Then, as we exited Petra through the Siq, we took one last look at the Treasury before heading back to Amman for our flight to Abu Dhabi.

What a great weekend! I wish we had more time in Jordan!


  1. Love your hotel and Petra. Not sure which I like the best. Seriously the ruins are fabulous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: