Pa-Wow Petra!

Petra 062 Imagine going on a hike in one of the most beautiful geological spots in the world.  Imagine seeing some of the most exquisite archeological remains of a rather astounding village, with stunning temples carved right into the face of mountains.  And imagine one of the world’s most pleasant climates.  Well, take them all together and you have one of the world’s great wonders — Petra!

Petra 204 Petra is often referred to as one of the wonders of the world, and with good reason.  We were just blown away by what we saw here.  The beauty of the temples and monasteries, all carved out of sandstone cliffs and mountains is impossible to describe in words, so I’m hoping my pictures carry the load.  There is structure after structure that just takes your breath away.  Petra’s prime was from the second Century B.C. through about 600 A.D.  It was discovered again by the Western world in 1812 by a Swiss explorer.  The history of this amazing site is worth checking out.

Petra 078 Our guide told us that just 2% of the structures of archeological merit have been excavated at Petra.  I wouldn’t bet the ranch on that estimate, but it did have the sense of a vast town, and had been covered with sand some 20+ feet over the years.  We saw many partially excavated buildings where the top of the door frame was well below today’s level of the earth. 

Petra 007 Many of the houses in Petra seemed like the Flintstone’s Bedrock, a place right out of history.  We made that comment among ourselves, and later saw a vendor selling all sorts of things, with their little area featuring a Fred Flintstone banner.  So we’re not all that creative in our observations . . .

Petra 044 Much of the excitement of Petra lies in the approach.  You enter the site and have a decent walk through the canyon before you get to the most astounding structures.  The walk is through a gorgeous canyon, with a fairly narrow valley walled off by vertical cliffs of a height I’d estimate to vary between 100-300 feet high.  What’s so interesting geologically is that, from time to time, the rock had sheared off, leaving an exposed face that was essentially a plane.  The Horites, a tribe of cave-dwellers living in the region, used these exposed planes as the start point for the buildings they literally carved into the face of it.

Petra 138 After about an hour of hiking, we got our first glimpse through the canyon of just how spectacular Petra can be.  As you come into a small clearing, the first major temple opens up in front of you, and it’s really quite magnificent.  After spending a half hour or so taking it in, we then continued hiking further, eventually reaching an impressive monastery at the top of a long and winding hike.  The kids and Elizabeth took the easy way up (donkeys) and I walked it.

We’ve been to many amazing places on our trip, but Petra is as spectacular as any place we’ve seen.  Our great stay in Jordan just got that much more engaging.  Feel free to check out our Petra photos.

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