Over the past few weeks I’ve shared some stories on my recent visit to Jordan, first writing about the history and culture of the place and then following that up with some destinations for adventure. Today I also wrote a piece for Gadling.com on Petra, Jordan’s most well known and iconic landmark. The piece is entitled Petra: Beyond The Treasury, because I found that there was far more to see and do there than I had ever imagined.
The ancient city of Petra was originally founded in the 6th Century BC, when it was founded as part of an effort by a tribe of Bedouins known as the Nabataeans. Over the centuries they built up a trade empire and used the city as their capital. Later it was conquered by the Romans and eventually abandoned altogether. As the centuries passed it was all but forgotten, until it was rediscovered by explorer Johann Ludwig in 1812.
Images of the place have always intrigued travelers, who are fascinated by the stone buildings carved directly into the sandstone walls. The best known of those structures is called the Treasury, although in truth it was actually a tomb. As I point out in my story for Gadling, for many people the Treasury is Petra and what they don’t realize is that it stands at the entrance of a massive complex of stone structures that can take several days to explore completely.
When I visited the site back in April I was surprised to find so many other ruins there, including a Roman amphitheater, a temple, and dozens of other structures. There was even one ruin known as the Monastery that was every bit as well preserved and impressive as the Treasury, but it is lesser known in part because it sits atop a high plateau that requires a hike up 900 stairs to reach. A similar site, known as the High Place of Sacrifice, is also worth the climb (in this case a mere 700 steps!) as it provides excellent views of the city.
Before I went I already knew that Petra was a wonder, but until I saw it first hand I didn’t realize just how impressive it is. Walking through the place is like walking through history and I feel that it is worth visiting Jordan for Petra alone. Obviously there are many more things to do and see in the country, but Petra is, without a doubt, the one destination you shouldn’t miss.
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