Petra, the Rose Red City
Whilst visiting Eilat, in Israel, we border hopped into the amazing country of Jordan, to visit the ancient city of Petra. It was a very early start and the coach trip up the King's Highway took a few hours. It was a trip that would prove to be worth it though. Jordan is a great country, an expanse of dusty red/brown desert that rises and falls stretching on for endless miles, hiding some incredible history. Mountains line the roadside, only punctuated by the occasional sight of a Bedouin tent and its occupants.
Arriving in Wadi Musa, the small town where Petra’s located, we joined our guide and followed him. We walked through the gates into Petra National Park and the excitement began. Nothing can truly prepare you for what you see. Neither can you truly describe to others how incredible Petra is? At first, it doesn’t seem like much as you walk a dusty, open pathway, with little on either side, save for rocky inclines. After ten minutes or so, however, you happen upon the Triclinium tomb and some Djinn blocks – ancient structures built by the Nabataeans 2000 years previously – the first sign of what’s to come. They’re impressive, but you wonder if it was worth the visit? The trip doesn’t end there though.
The path continues steadily on, and suddenly it plunges down through a huge crack in the rocks, between two large edifices of pink stone, once sliced open by an earthquake. Along the path, you begin to catch remnants of ancient reliefs, carvings, cobbled flooring, and an ancient water irrigation system, as you marvel at the incredible gorge that nature created.
Suddenly, without warning, the path ends and that’s when your visit to Petra really begins. At the end of this gorge stands the impressive El Khasneh (The Treasury). An ancient temple built by the Nabataeans, and now a famous historical site. Turning to your right you suddenly discover El Khasneh’s just the first of many ancient sights to explore, as your vision fills with the remnants of ancient tombs, temples, and rock-cut houses.
Experiencing Petra was something I’ll never forget. It became a huge inspiration for my first novel Nabataea (due to be republished soon as Under a Scorching Sun) and my short story I left my heart in Petra.
Petra is a huge ancient city, albeit in a semi-ruinous state. It belonged to the caravan people, called the Nabataeans, who had worked the old spice road, 2000 years previously. Many of its buildings were carved directly into the rock face meaning they haven’t been destroyed by earthquakes, and are still visible. Some are a little sand and windblown though.
Sadly, not all the city survived though and the central part is fairly ruinous, but what’s left still gives you a great idea of the size of the buildings. It’s an incredible place to explore, and just when you think you’ve finished seeing everything, you find another sight to marvel at. There are the Royal Tombs, Colonnaded Streets, a Roman Amphitheatre, The Monastery…the list is endless! There’s so much to see. The rich colourful rock, giving Petra its nickname of the Rose Red City, is so vibrant in places and marbled in texture. Sometimes even mixed through with hues of white and grey. It’s a fascinating insight into the people who built Petra and lived there. No vehicles are allowed into the ancient city, and so most visitors make the trip down on foot, but there are horses, camels, and horse drawn carriages for those who need transport.
I absolutely love Petra, it’s in my top three of my favourite places visited and I hope to be able to go again one day. Today the site is well looked after and protected and sits on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It’s a place that many don’t know exists. A hidden historical gem in the Jordanian desert, but one that’s definitely worth visiting.
I left my heart in Petra is a short story originally written for the Sunlounger Competition.
Chrissie Parker is an English author of 8 published works, including novels, shorts stories and poetry.
To learn more, explore her website and learn more about her love of writing, the inspiration for her books and the country's she's visited on her travels! https://www.chrissieparker.com
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