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We arrived Petra by car from Wadi-Rum. It was less than 2 hrs journey . We checked – in to our hotel and our first stop was “Petra – By – night”. Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week entire Siq to the Treasury was lit with over 1,500 candles. It is a magical way to see part of the rock city by candlelight and explore the old city.
This was our Day 2 in Petra. We planned to spend the entire day walking in Petra. This is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It is not known precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean empire from the 1st century BC, which grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh, and spices. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city in the 4th century AD. The earthquake combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city which was ultimately abandoned. By the middle of the 7th century Petra appears to have been largely deserted and it was then lost to all except local Bedouin from the area.
From visitor’s center we walked towards treasury. The 1.2 km siq starts at an bridge beside a modern dam. Technically the Siq with is 200m high wall is not a canyon, but a single block that has been rent apart by tectonic forces.
The Treasury (Al- Khazneh) is the face of Petra. This was used in the movie “Indiana Jones and Last Crusade” as the entrance of the temple housing The Holy Grail. There 6 columns at ground level. The carved figures are thought to be “Sons of Zeus”.
From the Treasury passage broaden to what is known as outer Siq. There are few tombs and then Theater and High Place of Sacrifice. Theater was meant to hold to about 8500 people about 30% of Petra population.
From theater we went towards royal tombs . These are the most impressive burial places in Petra. The most impressive is the Urn tomb. There are some other neighboring tombs like Silk tomb and Corinthian tomb. There is also a three-storey imitation of a Roman palace known as Palace tomb. This is thought to be more of ornamental than any religious significance.
Excavation of great temple has started in 1993. The temple was once 18m high enclosure was 40 X 28M . The interior was covered with striking red and white stone work. We visited few other places like Qasr Al- Bint, Temple of the winged Lions and Nabataen Museum.
I went for 1 hr hike to the monastery . This was a exasperating 1 hour hike with more than 850 steep stone steps . Anwesha took a donkey up instead. Along the way a lot of women are selling jewelry, offering you some tea and encouraging you. I read a review from a woman who told one of the seller ‘later’ and then the women remembered when she went back on the way down and insisted that she take a look at her stand as she said she would.
There are 3 different view points that you can climb around here. Walking towards them gives interesting views of the Monastery and you can really realized how it is carved in the mountain.
Monastery is similar in design to the Treasury but far bigger (50m wide and 45m high), it was built in the 3rd century BC as a Nabataean tomb. It derives its name from the crosses carved on the inside walls, suggestive of its use as a church in Byzantine times.
After coming down from Monastery we spend some time near museum had my sandwich and then I set-off for 2 hour hike to “High Place of Sacrifice”. I started the hike to Petra city center. I started from Qasr al-Bint. I went up along the ridge to Phraun Column. There are few ruined Natabean and Roman houses.The trail goes above Wadi. A women selling jewelry up there. When I declined to buy anything she asked me if I can give her anything to eat . I gave her the packet of biscuit I was carrying. Further down the trail is the elegant Roman Soldiers Tomb. On the way to High Place of Sacrifice , I saw Garden Tomb and Lion Monument. Finally I went up to Wadi Farasa and then up to the High Place of Sacrifice. From there I took steps down to Theater. It was grand afternoon exit to Petra city again.
We came out of Petra late in the afternoon. It was long and tiring day, but also was immensely satisfying .