Petra.3 // An Introduction

I spent fully 15 hours inside the Petra archaeological site last weekend – on Friday from 14:00 to 19:00, and on Saturday from 06:30 to 18:30 or a bit later. Most of it walking and climbing, up and down then back up or down again 😊. It’s a workout!

I posted some “teaser” photos last weekend already, since it was my first chance to let y’all know I’d landed in Jordan and had some free time to explore.

Petra.1 showed you two selfies, one from within the Siq and another from up above at High Place of Worship, looking down toward the Royal Tombs façade far below; and one panorama taken from High Place of Worship, panning from left (by Qasr Al Bint) to right (beyond royal tombs, toward The Treasury and the entrance from The Siq).

Petra.2 showed you a camel down by the Qasr Al Bint area. (Bear with me through this post, and if you’re curious enough you’ll get more info on these place – names.)

Today I’ll begin unfolding some of the vast majesty and mystery of this amazing place, piece by small piece.

Petra is enormous.

Further down, I’m posting a photo I took this morning of the official map you get upon entry. The main red path indicated on the map, which is basically at ground level from Entry Gate to Qasr Al Bint, is said to be 4km long.

It follows a steep and narrow canyon carved by Wadi Musa – which is called at first the Siq, a lovely mysterious passage which opens up directly onto the Treasury building, the single most famous site and image within Petra…but itself just a very small sample of this place. (Wadi Musa is both the name of the modern gateway town to Petra, and of the seasonal river that I assume carved these canyons before humans arrived or existed.)

Many site names are misleading. Most of these buildings were tombs. The Treasury was so named because folks hoped / imagined that it held a fortune – not so 😊. The Monastery is so named because later Byzantine occupants carved crosses into the surface – but like most things in Petra, it was built as a tomb for important deceased Nabataeans.

With today’s post, and all the many to follow in time — feel free to just enjoy the photos and move on. BUT if you’re truly curious and would like to know what you’re seeing, I highly recommend that you do the following:

  • View these on a larger screen, full function, where you can easily pan over the images to see their names. This is difficult on smart phones, so if you’re older than 30 and on a smart phone, accept that you’ll be simply absorbing images for their beauty.
  • I’ve spent the past three hours sorting out & naming the first 70 out of 270 total photos, and that’s all just from Petra.
  • You’ll also be seeing more of Amman and Jerash – and I still have to sort and name those before I forget where I was when I took each shot  … so I have my evening & weekend work cut out for me for some weeks to come. 😊 So if you’re on a small screen and curious – trust that the best info I have will be in the photo’s title and on that map.
  • If you’re really truly curious, find an online map, or open & save the map image further down in a separate window, and follow along in the days and months ahead as I slowly show you the vast, endless and striking natural and human achievement that is Petra.
  • Example, to help with orientation: at the bottom of this post is pano photo showing the wall of Royal Tombs. In the map photo above it, that entire wall face is just about the middle of the map #8 Royal Tombs, with 8.1 etc. for individual tomb names. And the selfie of me earlier in this post, up above the Treasury? It was taken at the end of the green trail you see on the map, above F in “Street of Facades,” from the perspective of the map. 🙂

Other things to note & appreciate, today and later:

  • Nearly all these remarkable images were carved out of the canyon walls – not built as free-standing buildings.
  • At times it’s difficult to know if something is natural erosion or human intervention. The rock itself is at times stunningly colorful and impressively shaped by wind, water, and time.
  • Enjoy!

One response

  1. Amazing, Paul. I so want to see Petra myself someday!

    September 26, 2021 at 13:51

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