Cairo to Istanbul 2010 travel blog

The Treasury at Petra

The Monastery at Petra

The Royal Tombs

View from the top of the Monastery climb

Me nearly at the top of the Monastery climb

More tombs

On arriving in Petra we dropped our bags in our hotel (rooms weren't ready yet) and set out for a 4 hour guided tour of Petra.

This is an amazing place. It was built by the Nabataeans who settled in this part of Jordan over 2,000 years ago. They were engaged in the camel caravan business so a lot of foregin influences were absorbed in their culture, as can be seen from the buildings at Petra which show Roman, Greek, Egyptian and local styles all merged into one. After many years of being a major stopping place on the trade routes Petra eventually fell into ruin and was not rediscovered until 1812.

The main entrance is through the Siq, a narrow canyon full of strange rock formations, ancient water channels cut into the rocks, and these days donkeys and horse buggies full of tourists. At the end of the Siq you come out into an open space dominated by the Treasury - a real Indiana Jones moment as anyone who has seen the movies will remember. It was carved out of the mountainside in the 1st century BC as the tomb of an important Nabataean king and is a beautiful rose colour from the rock.

Walking on through the site we passed many more tombs carved into the rock, an amphithetre which apparently held 7000 people, a beautiful collonaded street (very Roman) with the original marble paving stones, all the while dodging camels and donkeys carrying lazy tourists who didn't want to walk. At the end of the tour we arrived at a cafe for a cool drink before exploring on our own.

We decided to climb up to the Monastery via a series of 800 very steep steps. We made it to the top after a very long climb, but the view was magnificent, well worth the climb. Rugged mountains all around as far as you could see. The only way down was via the 800 steps, then back through the site to the entrance and the walk home. We were hot and tired and could only think of one thing - cold beer! So first stop on reaching town was the "Irish Pub" - only Irish thing about it was the Guinness sign in the window, but the beer was cold and we were happy. Then back to the hotel for a shower - the water in the bottom afterwards was orange from the sand at Petra - then out for dinner for some typical Jordanian food. Assorted appetizers first, such as baba ganoush, hommus, tabouli, fallafel etc, then a main course. Can't remember the name of mine but it was rice and chicken with a yougurt sauce - very delicious. This was followed by dessert - some very sweet biscuit things, they love sugar over here. After this we found a rooftop bar in a fancy hotel and relaxed there with a beer for a while.

Friday is a free day in Petra to do some more exploring, but Richard is under the weather so he is having a sleep this morning. Hopefully he will be a bit better this afternoon so we can go back when it's a bit cooler to see a few more sights.

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