Jordan is a landlocked country bordered by Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Of note, there is no hostility between Muslims and Christians and the country is one of the most modern and liberalized in the region.
Petra, a city in the southern part of the country is known as the fabled “rose red city, half as old as time.” It was the capital of the Nabataean kingdom around the 6th century BC. As one of the most important centers of trade and commerce, Petra flourished until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed most of the buildings and crippled the city’s water system around 663 AD. When the Egyptian and Syrian sultan Saladin captured the city in 1189, it was abandoned and its memory lost to the west.
It wasn’t until Johann Ludwig Burckhardt infiltrated the city disguised as an Arab scholar that it was rediscovered by the west in 1812. His accounts of the ancient city inspired other Europeans to attempt to visit the city over the next century, the most famous of which – David Roberts, a Scottish artist, drew detailed illustrations of the city to serve as maps for other travelers.
Since then, the city has become Jordan’s most popular tourist attraction, spurred by the exposure from Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series which prominently featured the city in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Further, the site was chosen in July 2007 as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
Due to the city’s age, the only acceptable modes of transportation are walking or riding (camel, donkey or horse). Discerning travelers should note that the city is now an archaeological park and thus prices are quite high.
Just an hour south of Petra lies Wadi Rum, a spectacularly scenic desert valley. There are no real towns and the infrastructure here is non-existent, leaving the area nearly untouched except for the couple of thousand Bedouin nomads who traverse the region. There are very few structures apart from Bedouin goat hair tents and a few concrete shops that dot the landscape.
All in all, the region is amazing, a luxurious adventure waiting to happen. A TripAdvisor.com member convincingly describes her once in a lifetime visit to Petra and Wadi Rum saying:
Petra is an amazing, once in a lifetime must-see site.
The entry price is not too bad, but as you really need three days to even scratch the surface it does tot up. We were lucky, having worked for a month on an archaeological project we were granted free entry. I remember thinking I would definitely be happy to pay it so…
If you get the chance…
– Visit over at least two-three days
– see the sun set from the Monastery (one of the highest spots)
– Walk up to the High Place of Sacrifice – the views are phenomenal
– Get lost in the arid expanse of open landscape exploring tombs and temples without seeing another soul.
– Visit the ‘Petra by Night’ display and experience the magnificent sikhs and Treasury lit up by entirely by candle-light(I have seen other equivalents such as at Luxor and Giza in Egypt and they do not compare)
– Stay at the Cleopetra hotel (Rough Guide)
– Treat yourself to an ice-cream at the Movenpick hotel near the entrance.
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