I'm Portuguese, live in Lisbon and I'm a travel addict!
I've been traveling since I was a teenager and I've been around the World a few times already.
This is my attempt to share with you my experiences and the knowledge I've collected after more than 20 years of non-stop traveling. Hope you like it!
You can read more about me here.
I think the first time I saw an image of Petra was in the “Last Crusade”, a film from the Indiana Jones trilogy – the scenery just blew me away! And ever since then I wanted to go there.
It still took a few years and a Brazilian telenovela called “Viver a Vida” (to live life) with inspiring scenes filmed in Petra to make me decide. I just couldn’t wait anymore. I had to visit that incredible place!
When you think of Petra I bet the image that comes immediately to your mind is that of a building carved in the stone, right?
That building is called the Treasury. Petra however is much more than that – Petra is one of the New Wonders of the World and the number one tourist destination in Jordan.
When you arrive there you understand why.
Petra is a place that transports you to another era and time. Words like surreal, a dream and spectacular, come very easy to mind when you are trying to describe it to your friends.
The Siq, a narrow and impressive gorge that leads to the entrance of the Lost City, is like a time machine. As you cross it on foot or on a cart pulled by horses or donkeys you will feel like you are turning back in time and then… when little by little you see the Treasury slowly reveling itself, you feel like you’re a small child discovering a big secret.
It’s a sight that will take your breath away – this of course if you are a sucker for history and archeology like me (I’m kind of nerd, I guess).
I’m sharing a few photos with you in the hope of inspiring you to visit this amazing place but, belive me – in no way images do any justice to this grand archeological treasure.
Short history lesson (so you don’t have to check Wikipedia): Petra was the capital of the Nabataean empire and had it’s prime around 9 B.C. to A.D. 40.
The Nabateans were a modern and resourceful civilization. Their engineers developed irrigation methods and other technologies associated with water that allowed their people to survive and prosper in an arid environment.
Petra played a vital role as a centre of trade and commerce for the silk, spice and other caravan trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome in ancient times.
When Petra was absorbed by the Roman Empire it started to decline but only when two earthquakes devastated the buildings and infrastructures, was the city finally abandoned.
Nomad bedouin tribes like the Bedul (who are still there today) occupied the area but Petra faded from memory and was lost to the West for hundreds of years until a Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812 and re-discovered the “Lost City”.
When I visited Petra I was staying at a Hotel in the Dead Sea area so I had to hire a private driver to take me there. Once I arrived I decided to explore the area on my own.
I wanted to do things in my own time and not be rushed by a tour guide. But licensed tour guides can be booked from the Visitor Center to take you around the site.
The guides speak several languages and can give you much information about the place.
Because I read a lot before I went there I prefered to explore by myself and pretend that I was an archeologist discovering the ruins for the first time!
The carved buildings were amazing of course but the one other thing that made Petra memorable to me was the tonality and diferent colors of the rocks. It was as if a painter had created patterns with a pallet ranging from red to pink, orange to yellow – so beautiful!
The not so good thing about the Lost City was the smell inside some of the caves. Some of the more distant ruins had a very unpleasant urine smell 😖.
Another thing that bothered me was the way some of the bedouins treated their animals. I’ve noticed that some of the horses pulling the carts at the entrance to the site were mistreated and had wounds.
- From Amman, the capital of Jordan, you can catch a taxi, a bus or go on a organized tour to the town of Petra. It takes about 3h 30. Petra’s archeological site is reachable by an easy 20 minute walk from the town center of Wadi Musa.
- If you feel uncomfortable in hot weather it’s better to visit Petra in the Spring (March to May) or Autumn (September to November).
- Wear comfortable shoes and light clothing – you’ll be walking around all day if you want to visit most of this archeological site. Bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock. Also bring an extra layer or a jacket to keep warm if you intend to stay after dark. The temperatures drop quickly when the sun sets.
- Take plenty of water to drink during the day so you don’t dehydrate.
- Camel and donkey rides are available on the site after the Treasury, at extra cost if you don’t want to visit all the sites on foot.