There’s no denying the fact that, after a five mile hike – mainly in sunlight – and dodging electric golf buggies, donkeys, horse-drawn carts and camels – l am exhausted.
Finally today – in the company of hundreds of others from around the globe – l have gazed on the wonders contained within one of the world’s most famous and awe-inspiring archaeological sites – the UNESCO World Heritage listed ancient city of Petra.
One must also say – judging by the large number of others of a similar age – that we weren’t just taking photos of Jordan’s most famous attraction but placing a tick inside a bucket symbol.
A brief history. The city was built – partly in honour of the dead – by members of a nomadic tribe from western Arabia called the Nabataeans who arrived in the region around the 6th century BC.
They were organised traders and used their wealth over five hundred years to build Petra.
At its height around 30,000 people lived and died there. You approach the city through a narrow and beautiful gorge called The Siq – itself a natural wonder.
At the end you catch sight of a well-known image now – The Treasury. Actually this carved facade fronts the tomb of a king.
In this city – carved out of sandstone – holes with decoration are graves and those without homes. Though many would have continued to live in their tents.
The invading Romans took the city’s trading position away but further enhanced its beauty with temples, a church and even a theatre carved out of the natural rock.
Much of the city still lies buried under rubble as earthquakes eventually took their toll and what was left of the old city slumbered until being rediscovered by the wider world through the exploits of 19th century Swiss Explorer Jean Louis Burchhardt.
You have got to see it. To brave the heat and the crowds and the traders insisting you buy trinkets or ride a donkey an experience that comes with ‘free air conditioning.’
We don’t know very much about Petra’s founders and maybe donors can come forward to allow archaeologists to uncover more answers.
However, the place is a blooming marvel.
Tomorrow we are off into the desert for a night spent under the stars. More on that to come.
PS. After a rest and the chance to dry some delicious local ice cream, we went back across the busy street from our Movenpick Petra Hotel to take a look around the comparatively new Petra Museum.
Designed, partly financed and built by the Japanese, it is a modern take on history but one that brings the layers of the Petra site to life.
We have seen the long deserted ruins but, artefacts excavated from the World Heritage city, bring the centuries to life.
In this excellent and informative museum the curators physically show – in five halls and with 280 exhibits – how the Nabataean people lived and who they worshipped.
As a central point on well established trading routes artefacts from Petra also show the many architectural and religious and domestic influences too.
The museum opened in 2019 but then came the Pandemic. It’s fully up and running now and well worth a visit. It’s right alongside the entrance to the Petra site and free to enter.
PPS. My husband also managed to get himself interviewed by Jordanian Television and don’t worry, he told them we live in a World Heritage city too!