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A-Z Guidebook: Jordan, Petra

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J or Jumble

Half a dozen years ago, Anthony and I took a sabbatical and travelled through much of Europe with detours to the Middle East and North Africa. I have written on several occasions about the main impetus for travelling to the Middle East was the desire to visit the famous Bakdash ice cream salon in Damascus. We travelled with friends on a small tour where the operator got you from A-B and fairly much left you to your own devices. At the start of the tour, the (Australian) guide asked us what was the one thing we wanted to see. I said an ice cream shop but many others said Petra, in Jordan. I know where my priorities lie. Still, Petra was a bit of an added bonus.

A lot has been written about the ‘rose red city half as old as time’ so you can do your own research if you want to learn more but I will tell you two things. Amazingly, this ancient city dating back to antiquity was only re-discovered again by most of the world in 1812, when it was stumbled upon by Swiss explorer Johan Ludwig Burkhardt. One can only imagine the sheer wonderment when he came through the narrow pass of the Siq and beheld The Treasury for the first time.

Elevated view of carved stone monument 'The Treasury' in Petra, Jordan

The second thing I’ll tell you about Petra is that every one of the superlatives that have ever been used to describe it are fully justified. Amazing. Grand. Ancient Wonder. Towering. Nothing can prepare you for the experience of walking through the Siq, just as Burkhardt did, a little over 200 years ago. The Treasury is the first grand building encountered and is the postcard hero but there are so many carved buildings and monuments, hidden caves and ruins that you don’t know where to look or how to spend your time. We spent two days in Petra and barely touched the surface. Anthony was dedicated and visited very early in the morning before most of the tourists arrived and climbed up above the Treasury to take this great photo. Most are taken from below, which only adds to the imposing presence.

Bakdash has now migrated along with thousands of Syrian expats, to Jordan. These days, you can visit Petra via Google Street View but it’s not quite the same, is it?

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14 comments… add one
  • RobertL March 15, 2016, 6:31 am

    Which is more impressive, the Treasury or the Love Lion? Discuss.

    • Fiona Ryan March 15, 2016, 10:19 am

      You don’t know how tempted I was to use the photo of the Love Lion or the guys with the cling on koala on his robes. Good times….

  • Tandy I Lavender and Lime March 15, 2016, 2:05 pm

    Jordan hopefully will not be affected by the ruin happening in Muslim countries in that region.

    • Fiona Ryan March 19, 2016, 7:55 pm

      7 years ago I would have said the same of Syria. We visited both and though Jordan seemed more modern, I think it was a fairly thin veneer of respectability. I’m just glad we got to visit both in a time of relative peace.

  • Sherry from sherryspickings March 15, 2016, 9:07 pm

    I would love to see Petra one day. It looks so incredible. Lucky it hasn’t been blown up or dug out in the past. 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan March 19, 2016, 7:07 pm

      I’ve been to Palmyra too but that’s lost to us all. I hope you can visit one day Sherry.

  • Joy @MyTravelingJoys March 17, 2016, 5:04 pm

    Gorgeous! Would love to visit Petra someday! Every photo I’ve seen always makes the place look so majestic, especially at night!

    • Fiona Ryan March 19, 2016, 7:07 pm

      The site normally closes at dusk however they often have concerts there and I also don’t think they are adverse to a little baksheesh so if the right palms are greased…

  • Liz (Good Things) March 18, 2016, 2:15 pm

    Oh how I would love to visit Petra. Loved this post Fiona x

    • Fiona Ryan March 19, 2016, 7:05 pm

      I think Jordan is still quite safe Liz though of course, it borders Syria so I’m not sure how they are coping with refugees and what is happening with tourism. One for the bucket list!

  • Emily (Cooking for Kishore) March 22, 2016, 2:29 am

    What a gorgeous shot! I would love to visit Petra definitely on our future travels list. 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan March 22, 2016, 6:16 pm

      I have Anthony to thank for that one but truth be told, it’s hard to take a bad photo there.

  • retrostuart March 24, 2016, 9:27 am

    A beautiful photo. You’ve made Petra sound very appealing. It’s great to visit somewhere that is just like the postcards, but so much better.

    • Fiona Ryan March 24, 2016, 1:33 pm

      Plenty of characters around too that only add to the entertainment. It’s an amazing site with these incredible buildings but also a smattering of Roman mosaics and pre-civilisation caves in the mix.

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