I’ve always wanted to explore Petra, aka the Rose Red City. I love everything mysterious, obviously.
Nabataean Empire & Roman Empire
Petra was a Nabataean city back in the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city, thus, the existence of some very recognisable Roman architecture in Petra.
Roman Trade Port & Quality Hydrolic System
An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until an earthquake destroyed the buildings and water management systems around AD 663. Petra is known to have an extraordinary water systems, especially since it is located in the desert.
The Lost City
After Saladin’s conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned. For a long while nobody knew it existed until Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812.
Pia and Matt rented a car and Matt drove us all the way from Amman to Petra. It was a good 4hrs. About the same time to drive from Singapore to KL.
Alternatively, there is a Jett bus from Amman to Petra and vice versa. I took the bus back to Amman as Matt and Pia were staying the night in Petra. I already had plans for the next day so I couldn’t stay.
It was so HOT! Temperature was 13 to 30 degree Celsius. TBH, it didn’t feel like 30 degrees, it was way too hot! Maybe it’s the desert sun, I dunno.
I felt drained and very uncomfortable. It got so bad when we entered the desert area (video below) and it was around noon. Imagine the heat!
When we reached Petra, I felt so disoriented, a little giddy and totally not in the mood.
So many tourists and school kids.
There’s this group of Arab schoolgirls who kept screeching in the Siq. Hated it!
Didn’t interact with anyone, really didn’t feel like it because I was so uncomfortable.
Didn’t eat here, went back to Amman for dinner.
Rose Red City
Road to the Siq
There’s a Visitor Centre for buying tickets and souvenirs. After passing the ticket gantry, there’s an open space with some monuments on each side.
Raw footage of walking on sharp rocks, difficult to get a steady video. I didn’t wanna stop because it was too hot and I was desperately looking for cover.
The Bedouins believed that evil spirits were housed within, but the blocks were probably built to bury people. It is presumed that the buildings date back from the first century B.C. These may be the oldest tombs of Petra.
Obelisk Tombs (Top Part)
It is believed that this tomb was built under an Egyptian influence. An inscription near the tomb writes that the tomb belongs to Abdmank and his children.
Bab As-Siq Triclinium (Bottom Part)
This is a chamber with three benches and served as a location for sacred feasts honoring the dead.
Towards Siq Entrance
There were some seats along this route so I decided to rest for a little while. There was an old couple sitting too and I had to ask if I was still a long way down. The old man said, “Yes, wayyy down!”
I felt so miserable! I wish I was better prepared for the desert sun.
It is the ancient main entrance leading to the city of Petra, starts at the Dam and ends at the opposite side of the vault.
- Length: 1200m
- Width: 3 to 12m
- Height: 80m
Shade! Finally some relief from the sun! The rocks were really pretty. People were taking pictures all along the way. Some were standing on rocks and posing for the cameras.
And walking surface was smooth!
This life-sized relief celebrates the caravan trade that formed the basis of Nabataean wealth and influence. The relief is now badly eroded, but one can make out a few details on its lower portion, such as the lower body of a camel driver.
The elaborate system of dams and channels was no longer maintained during Petra’s decline. Floods poured through the Siq, completely scouring away most of the relief. Today, the ancient flood control system was restored.
Al Khazneh or The Treasury
My first thought? “WOW!”
- Height: 39.1 metres
- Width: 25.3 metres
There has been a lot of questions to just this one monument alone.
Its function is still unknown, it’s architecture still a mystery. Some said this was a place to store documents, some said its a temple, others said its a place for royals but recent excavations unearthed a graveyard beneath.
Street of Facades
A large canyon lined with the facades of various tombs, just towards the right after Al Khazneh.
On both sides, there are a number of Nabataean burial interfaces decorated with grindstones and other decorations. Some of these interfaces, believed to represent some of the senior officials in the city or princes. However, they were destroyed by natural factors.
I tried to go up to one of the tombs but there was a donkey (with its owner) coming down, carrying heavy things. The steps were only good for one of us so I had to walk back all the way down and gave way to the donkey. I was surprised the donkey immediately stopped when he saw me blocking his way. Too cute.
I was walking and minding my own business when I heard something running towards me from behind. I turned and it was a donkey! No owner or guide with him. I was afraid it’d get violent and knock me down. Thankfully it kept running and slowed down quite a distance away from me. He looked so happy!
While I was passing this Bedouin man, there’s a Bedouin kid nearby. He looked no more than 3 yrs old.
- Tourist: Can we take a photo please? Just one photo.
- Bedouin toddler: ONE DINAR! ONE DINAR!
- Tourist Wife: (laughing) We’ll give you 1 Dinar but you take photos with us ok?
Seriously, the kid was too cute. Good sales skill too.
Carved into the side of the mountain at the foot of the High Place of Sacrifice, the theatre consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways. Seven stairways ascend the auditorium and it can accommodate 4000 spectators.
The East Ridge or The Royal Tombs
As one of the most dramatic overlooks in Petra, the East Ridge was prime real-estate for royal or high-status tombs.
Many people believe that the East Ridge monuments are “Royal Tombs,” because (aside from the Khazneh) these are the most important facades in the most important location in the city of Petra.
The East Ridge tombs were built in order, around the cliff from south to north. Sextus Florentinus’ tomb (north of the Palace Tomb) dates to 129 AD, the year of his death. The earlier tombs are inferred to have been built during the preceding half-century, which would date the Urn Tomb to around 70 AD.
The site was built out in two phases. The upper terrace was constructed first, during the first century BC. The second phase of construction occurred during the first century AD.
In spite of its name, it is not at all certain that the Great Temple was actually a temple due to its conflicting architecture.
Qasr al-Bint Temple
Built in the 1st century BC, by Obodas III, there are three chambers in the cella, and therefore three gods who were worshiped here. As this is assumed to be the chief temple of Petra, one would expect a dedication to Dushara (Nabataean’s main deity, aka “Lord of the Mountain”).
- Height: 23 m
- Width: 60 m
- Length: 60 m
However, on the basis of two inscriptions of the Roman period, the temple seems to be dedicated to al’Uzza (Allat – in Roman times, Allat was identified with Venus or Minerva; both were daughters of Jupiter), Ba’al-Shamin (Jupiter) and a third unidentified god or goddess.
By analogy with the Capitoline Trinity (Jupiter-Juno-Minerva), the third chamber of this Nabatean temple should have been dedicated to the Nabatean equivalent of Juno.
Road to Ad Deir Monastery
Ad Deir Monastery
This is the largest carved monument in Petra and dates back to the 1st century AD. There are more than 800 steps up to the monastery and the climb can take over an hour.
Thought to have been carved in the mid-first century AD, Ad Deir is not a monastery nor a tomb.
A nearby inscription seems to connect it to the cult of Obodas I (96-86 BC), even though that king lived 150 years before the building was constructed.
Its facade is comparable to Al Khazneh; however, it lacks the fine detailing that is found on the face of Al Khazneh.
I hated the heat and the dryness.
With my inappropriate pump shoes, walking was difficult because sharp stones were everywhere. Walking was a great workout to me here. I usually like walking long distances but Petra was difficult.
Actually, I’d hope to go again one day, In Sya Allah!
- Stay overnight here because you can spend more time at the site and explore the city. I didn’t get to explore much because of lack of time and I was physically unfit. I had to go back to Amman because I already made plans for the next day and this was my biggest mistake. If I were to visit Jordan again, I would definitely revisit Petra (regardless the super expensive entry fee) and stay for 2 to 3 days. Plus, Petra at night is beautiful.
- SUNBLOCK + WATER! And sunglasses – the sun was unforgiving! And your eyes would definitely hurt without shades.
- Wear good running shoes – protect your feet from the sharp stones.
- Take lots of pictures! It’s just so pretty here. Model wannabes, another photoshoot location for you here.
- Ride the camels, it can get tiring. It’s also expensive – apart from the ride, you’d be coerced to pay tips to the one guiding the camel for you. The entrance ticket includes a free camel ride but you’d still have to pay ‘tips’.
- Take the tourist pass! It includes Jordan tourist Visa and Petra entrance fee. I obviously wasted a lot of money!
- Entrance fee: $102
- Bus; Petra to Amman: $21
*All prices are in SGD (estimate).