Petra; Jordan: The city of the Last Crusade
January 1, 1970
by JetLag Therapy
Most people know Petra just from “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade’s” movie but there is so much more than that to discover. It is also known as “The Lost City” since it became lost for centuries to the western world after 1400’s AD; until a Swiss traveler named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt finally rediscovered it in 1812. Today, Petra has become one of the Seven Wonders of the World transforming itself in Jordan’s jewel.
Petra Guest House Hotel
I stayed at the Petra Guest House, a wonderful 4* stars hotel located at the exact entrance of the Lost City and also one block away from a lot of restaurants, mainly Italian ones. Also, besides it there is an amazing bar imitating The Treasury. It is beautiful and very well done, not very crowded. I totally recommend at least going around for a glass of wine. The hotel is very comfortable and has an amazing American breakfast that will keep you full and with lots of energy in order to endure the entire walk through Petra. It is crucial to have a tour guide since there are too many details and important information you will not get to know by any other way. There are plenty of certified guides at the gate, yet if you do not trust them at the hotels they always have someone to recommend.
Very important tip: comfortable shoes are a must! It is a long walk, full of slopes, stairs and if you are the adventurous style you may want to climb a bit as well… So the comfortable you are the better. The whole tour around the city might take around 3hs depending on the rhythm and if you wish to climb to the Monastery or not. I believe is totally worth it, although you will have to climb 800 steps in order to get there, but the monastery and the view deserves it.
Petra – The Antique City
The way into the Antique City, carved by the Nabataean’s Arabs more that 2000 years ago, consists of 1.2km walk through the Siq, a narrow canyon surrounded by cliffs that rise up to 80mts high, until it reaches the most interesting and known monument of all: The Treasury.
The treasury is mostly known by all of us due to the famous scene in which a huge stone ball persecutes Indiana Jones who runs for his life while pursuing the Holy Grail. Sadly to all of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’s fans once you finally get to The Treasury the entrance is forbidden. Yet, the view is breathtaking. The name “Treasury” was given due to the beliefs that it might contain a treasure, yet it is just a royal tomb with no treasure inside.
- Staring at The Treasury, at your back to the right there is a kind of cave by which you can make amazing photographs, specially some fun ones jumping for example.
- Specially for women – Staring at The Treasury at your left there is an amazing shop where you can find incredible rings, necklaces, ornaments and many other things that are truly gorgeous and part of the money collected is given to a ONG.
But Petra is not just The Treasury; it used to be a whole city. If you continue down the road you will start crossing into all the houses, which consisted of caves created on the rocks. Our guide told us that the Nabataean’s used to keep the dead on their own houses, sometimes they were even more dead people than living ones on the house. Yet, of course the royalty had their own tombs, by which you will run into further on the walk.
The Roman Theatre, Colonnaded Street, Qasr Al-Bint and The Monastery
If you continue down the path, as like most cities of the early Roman Palestine time, you will bump into a roman theater that may have seated around 6,000 viewers. It is pretty big and quite well conserved even though at the year 363 AD an earthquake destroyed some parts of it.
Further down the road you will run into the Colonnaded Street leading to the heart of the Nabataean city of Petra where it stands it’s main temple known as Qasr Al-Bint (Palace of Bint).
At the end of the city, if you dare, you will finally reach the 800 steps awaiting to be climb in order to reach, from my point of view the best building of all Petra: The Monastery. In the way up you will bump into a lots of tents where local people will harass you, in a good way, in order to sell you some arts and crafts. Once at the top it is totally worth to take a couple of minutes to bounce back on truck while enjoying a drink at the top bar with an amazing view to the Monastery and to the cliff. As The Treasury, sadly The Monastery has also its entrance forbidden.
- Hint: if you feel you can’t handle walking all around Petra you can ride a camel; and for climbing up to the monastery there are donkeys at your dispositions (of course all of this is charged extra).
Petra By Night
Last but not least, and from my point of view the best experience I’ve done in Petra, was “Petra by Night”. Even though you will be tired after walking all day around the Antique City, and the idea of having to go all the way back at night, walking 1.2km once again to The treasury might not sound very temping, believe me you will not regret it all.
Important: Petra By Night tour it is not done every day, it is done just 3 days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays at 20.30hs and it lasts for around 2hs (check it before traveling, since dates and time might have vary).
You will walk once again through the Siq but this time it will all by lightened by candles. Over 1000 candles will guide you until you reach The Treasury. Once you get there you will be asked to sit, and while enjoying a complementary cup of tea you will enjoy a show of traditional Jordianian music played by local Bedouins. Only candles will be lightening your view.
Tip: I went on January/February and it was very cold! Go very cos y since at night temperature tends to go down.
It was really one of the most enriching experiences of my entire life. I will never forget that amazing place lightened by candles while listening to the traditional music. I am dreaming to go back.