Petra – 2 Days in The Lost City of Jordan

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Petra is part of the imagination of the vast majority of people. Who doesn’t remember seeing Indiana Jones traverse the mythical Siq Canyon and end up in the magnificent Treasury Square?

But our imagination doesn’t stop with Indiana Jones movies. When we think of Petra, we are immediately taken to a universe of adventure, in which exploring a city lost in time is, in itself, spectacular.

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To explore Petra is to dive into a fantastic work of urban planning, engineering and architecture, carried out by the Nabateans. It is indeed absolutely incredible how Petra was built, sculpted and planned.

The Nabateans saw in the crossroads of trade routes, between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, an opportunity to grow a commercial hub. This commercial hub was much more than the Siq that flowed into the Treasury, it was a complex city, with temples, gardens, public baths, hot springs, all of this, imagine, in the middle of the arid desert.

If we think that Petra was built more than 2,000 years ago, we have to recognize that whoever built it was absolutely genius. Carving monumental buildings in the mountains, creating water supply systems in the middle of the desert, and generating life in the middle of nowhere is, literally, awesome!

One cannot imagine what it must have been like for the Swiss explorer, Johan Ludwig Burckhardt, in 1812, to find the city lost in time and put it back on the map, giving us back part of a lost heritage.

Many have tried to take Petra, from the Romans to the Byzantines, leaving records of their passage, and it is this civilizational diversity that makes Petra even more special.

1 – It is necessary to walk a lot and it is imperative to wear appropriate footwear;
2 – The trails are not adapted for people with reduced or conditioned mobility;
3 – There are several trails with different levels of difficulty, most of it requiring some physical effort.

On the first day we had planned to walk the Siq to the Treasury, stopping occasionally for detailed explanations on the way, and then we would follow the trail to the Monastery. On the way back, there was a chance we would stay to see the night show.

Since the Jordan Pass does not include Petra By Night, it was up to each traveler to decide if they wanted to purchase the extra ticket, or not. But I will talk about that in more detail later.

From the visitor center to the Siq entrance you walk about 1km, on a gravel road, with moderate inclination. Then you enter the Canyon, for another 1km of walking, and this is where the real adventure in the archaeological complex begins.

The Siq alone is a superb work of nature, where the colors and textures of the rocks, molded by time and environmental agents, provide an extraordinary setting. As we descend the rock structure, the Siq becomes narrower, until finally, through a crack we see the façade of the famous Treasury.

No matter how many images I have seen of that place, the emotion I felt as I took the last steps towards Petra’s ex-libris was enormous. For a moment I held my breath and thought, “Pinch me awake, because I’m dreaming.”

Leaving the Siq and seeing the Treasury is indescribable, but logically, not everything is “pretty pink”.

As in any extremely touristy place, the magic of the moment includes sharing the space with many people and also with many vendors, of anything and everything, including going to the best spot to take pictures.

All around the venue you can find children selling souvenirs and animals in undignified conditions. None of these scenarios is pleasant, but as long as there are tourists who “feed” the situation, there is not much we can do. But this is a subject for another post.

After marveling at the Treasury, we move on to the Facades Avenue, where you will also find, among other things, the world’s only theater carved out of rock.

There, the mixture of civilizations is more noticeable, between the facades of the tombs of the Nabatean kings, the Roman columns, and the ruins of a Byzantine church, there is a bit of everything to make the hearts of history lovers palpitate.

It was at the end of the Avenue that we started on the trail that led to the Monastery. For me, a trial of considerable physical effort, since the 900 or so steps carved in stone are uneven and, in some circumstances, quite demanding.

Along the entire ascent there are dozens of stalls selling mostly souvenirs. There the salesmen are not so insistent, inviting only to see the products. Or if they are, I didn’t hear them, such was the fatigue!

I asked myself several times on the way, as a way of letting off steam, while climbing the stairs: “What was the need to build a monastery so far away?

But when you get to the Monastery you forget all the pain. The monumental work leaves us speechless. It is there that we stop in pure contemplation and realize that the dimension of our pains is tiny, compared to the dimension of what is in front of us.

The next day we went back to Petra for more trails. In my case, for one more trail, because the body aching from the previous day’s staircase did not allow for more. Of the 2 suggested trails to walk, for me the choice was obvious. Between the Treasure seen from above and the Sacrifice, I chose the first.

The Al-Khubtha trail passes in front of the royal tombs and goes around the mountain, allowing us to have a perspective of Petra that we hadn’t had until then. This time there were “only” 800 steps of stone staircase, in much better conditions than those leading to the Monastery.

Still, after the stairs, there is a dirt track to be walked, which leads to the viewpoint. Once at the viewpoint, we find a Bedouin-style “commercial establishment”. That is, if you want to enjoy the view and take pictures, you pay for it in the form of consumables.

So, there we had our refreshments and filled our camera cards with the most amazing view of Petra’s picture postcard.

The return to the hotel was made with a full heart, with the feeling of a dream come true. Petra is, without a doubt, one of Jordan’s and Humanity’s jewels.


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Petra faz parte do imaginário da grande maioria das pessoas. Quem não se lembra de ver o Indiana Jones percorrer o mítico Canyon (Siq) e desembocar na praça do magnífico Tesouro?

Mas o nosso imaginário não se fica apenas pelos filmes do Indiana Jones. Quando se pensa em Petra, somos imediatamente remetidos para um universo de aventura, no qual explorar uma cidade perdida no tempo é, só por si, espetacular.

Explorar Petra é mergulhar numa obra fantástica, de planeamento urbano, engenharia e arquitetura, levada a cabo pelos Nabateus. É, de facto, absolutamente incrível a forma como Petra foi construída, esculpida e planeada.

Os Nabateus viram na encruzilhada das rotas comerciais, entre o Mar Vermelho e o Mar Morto, uma oportunidade de fazer crescer um polo comercial. Esse polo comercial era muito mais do que o Siq que desembocava no Tesouro, era uma cidade complexa, com templos, jardins, banhos públicos, termas, tudo isto, imagine-se, no meio da aridez do deserto.

Se pensarmos que Petra foi construída há mais de 2 mil anos, temos que reconhecer que quem a construiu era absolutamente genial. Esculpir edifícios monumentais nas montanhas, criar sistemas de abastecimento de água no meio do deserto e gerar vida no meio do nada é, literalmente, obra!

Não dá para imaginar o que terá sido para o explorador suíço, Johan Ludwig Burckhardt, em 1812, encontrar a cidade perdida no tempo e voltar a pô-la no mapa, restituindo-nos parte de um património perdido.

Foram muitos os que tentaram tomar Petra, dos romanos aos bizantinos, deixando registos da sua passagem, e é essa diversidade civilizacional que torna Petra ainda mais especial.

1 – É necessário caminhar bastante e é imperativo usar calçado adequado;

2 – Os percursos não estão adaptados para pessoas com mobilidade reduzida ou condicionada;

3 – Há vários trilhos com diferentes níveis de dificuldade, sendo que a maioria requer algum esforço físico.

No primeiro dia estava previsto percorrermos o Siq até ao Tesouro, parando pontualmente para explicações detalhadas no percurso e depois faríamos o trilho até ao Mosteiro.

No regresso, havia a hipótese de ficarmos para ver o espetáculo noturno. Como o Jordan Pass não inclui o Petra By Night, ficou ao critério de cada viajante decidir se queria adquirir o bilhete extra, ou não. Mas sobre isso falarei mais detalhadamente adiante.

Do centro de receção aos visitantes até à entrada do Siq percorre-se cerca de 1km, em estrada de gravilha, com inclinação moderada. Depois entra-se no Canyon, para mais 1 km de caminhada, e é aqui que começa a verdadeira aventura no complexo arqueológico.

O Siq, só por si, é uma obra soberba da natureza, onde as cores e texturas das rochas moldadas pelo tempo e pelos agentes ambientais, proporcionam um cenário extraordinário. À medida que vamos descendo a estrutura rochosa, o Siq vai ficando mais estreito, até que, finalmente, por uma fresta vemos a fachada do famoso Tesouro.

Por muitas imagens que tenha visto daquele lugar, a emoção que senti ao dar os últimos passos em direção ao ex-libris de Petra, foi enorme. Por momentos sustive a respiração e pensei: “Belisquem-me para acordar, porque estou a sonhar”.

Sair do Siq e ver o Tesouro é indiscritível, mas logicamente, nem tudo são rosas. Como em qualquer lugar extremamente turístico, a magia do momento inclui a partilha do espaço com muita gente e também com muitos vendedores, de tudo e mais alguma coisa, incluindo de idas ao melhor spot para tirar fotografias.

Por todo o recinto é possível encontrar crianças a venderem souvenirs e animais em condições pouco dignas. Nenhum destes cenários é agradável, mas enquanto houver turistas que compactuam com a situação e a “alimentam”, não há muito a fazer. Mas isto é assunto que ficará para outro post.

Depois de nos deslumbrarmos com o Tesouro, seguimos para a Avenida das Fachadas Reais, onde se encontra também, entre outros, o único teatro no mundo esculpido na rocha.

Ali a mescla de civilizações é mais notória, entre as fachadas dos túmulos dos reis Nabateus, as colunas romanas e as ruínas de uma igreja bizantina, há de tudo um pouco para fazer palpitar os corações dos amantes de história.

Foi no fim da Avenida que demos início ao trilho que levava ao Mosteiro. Para mim, uma prova de esforço físico considerável, já que os cerca de 900 degraus esculpidos na pedra são irregulares e, em algumas circunstâncias, bastante exigentes.

Ao longo de toda a subida encontram-se dezenas de barraquinhas a vender maioritariamente souvenirs. Ali os vendedores não são tão insistentes, convidavam apenas a ver os produtos. Ou se são eu não os ouvi, tal era o cansaço!

Perguntei-me várias vezes pelo caminho, em jeito de desabafo, enquanto subia a escadaria: “Qual foi a necessidade de construir um Mosteiro tão longe?!”.

Mas quando se chega ao Mosteiro esquecem-se as dores todas. A obra monumental deixa-nos sem palavras. É ali que paramos em pura contemplação e percebemos que a dimensão das nossas dores é ínfima, comparativamente com a dimensão do que está à nossa frente.

Petra merecia muito mais e quem paga também. Na minha opinião, que vale o que vale, o que se paga é uma exorbitância, mediante a experiência que é proporcionada.

No dia seguinte voltámos a Petra para mais trilhos. No meu caso para mais um trilho, porque o corpo dorido da escadaria do dia anterior, não permitiu mais.

Dos 2 trilhos sugeridos para percorrer, para mim a escolha foi óbvia. Entre o Tesouro visto de cima e o Sacrifício, escolhi o primeiro.

O trilho Al-Khubtha passa na frente das tumbas reais e circunda a montanha, permitindo ter uma perspetiva de Petra que não tínhamos tido até então. Desta vez foram “só” 800 degraus de escadaria de pedra, em condições bastante melhores do que as que levam ao Mosteiro.

Ainda assim, depois das escadas, há um trilho de terra batida a percorrer, que leva ao miradouro. Chegados ao miradouro, deparámo-nos com um “estabelecimento comercial” ao jeito beduíno. Ou seja, quem quiser usufruir da vista e tirar fotografias, paga para isso em forma de consumíveis.

Assim sendo, lá tomámos o refresco e enchemos os cartões das máquinas fotográficas com a vista mais estrondosa daquele que é o postal ilustrado de Petra.

O regresso ao hotel foi feito de coração cheio, com a sensação de sonho cumprido. Petra é, sem dúvida, uma das joias da Jordânia e da Humanidade.

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15 thoughts on “Petra – 2 Days in The Lost City of Jordan”

  1. Pingback: Jordan – 12 Days Road Tripping The Kingdom of Smiles »

  2. I would love to see Petra one day but I’m wary that Jordan might not be the best place for me as a solo female traveller. Your pictures are stunning and I can understand that mass tourism ruins many moments. It’s sad to hear that locals dwell all day in the heat and try to sell souvenirs to make a living, especially the kids. Did you stay in accommodation near by or is there a chance to stay over at Petra? I’m working out the logistics of the place. Do you have to go in and out every day or how does it work?

    Carolin | Solo Travel Story

    1. I stayed in a hotel right near the entrance to the archaeological complex, since there is no accommodation inside, nor is it allowed to stay overnight. We have to go out and re-enter Petra daily, so staying in an accommodation near the entrance is more comfortable, since inside we walk around a lot. As for traveling alone, as long as you take the proper precautions there is no problem.

  3. Petra, and for that matter Jordan, has been high on my list for a long time. I’m the kid who absolutely loved learning about ancient history and sat in awe of Indiana Jones’ adventures. I know I would love it there, but it’s still really good to hear more about your experience, which sounds phenomenal. Good to hear about the Petra by night event too, that unfortunately doesn’t sound anywhere near as impactful as your day visits

    1. Petra deserves more than just those 10 minutes of show. It’s the perfect place for something more elaborated, that would dignify it. Anyways it was truly emotional to me stepping out the Siq and seeing the Treasury! It’s totally worth the money and the effort ☺️

  4. Petra exceeded all that I was expecting. It is one of those truly WOW places that take your breathe away, for me anyway! Walking down the Siq then seeing the opening at the end with the Treasury building ahead was glorious. I walked to the Monastery in a day (not enough time to see everything),and caught the 5pm bus back to Amman. I was thinking of doing the night event but had read it was expensive for what you get and your report confirms that too. I couldn’t quite work out what was going to be so different at night to buildings I had already seen during the day – coloured lights and candles didn’t seem enough to convince to pay the extra. I had the Jordan Pass which included entry to Petra so that was enough for me. Great reading and it brought beck happy memories.

  5. I’m always so impressed by the intricate detail of the carvings so long ago! I like the idea of staying close to the site because then you’ll get to get there earlier than most visitors and hopefully get some incredible pics like you did! So jealous!

    1. Petra was a dream come true. I’m still amazed by how it was built and planned. I totally recommend staying near the archeological site. It saves you time and it allows you to enjoy the place properly. I hope you have the chance to visit it one day 😊 thank you for reading and commenting

  6. Petra is such a stunner. I would love to see it in my lifetime, although I worry about not being in the best shape for it. I can only imagine how hot it gets too! But it’s still on my bucketlist.

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