Travels with V

Israel and Petra

In the city that was lost

Petra, Jordan

After a couple of days in Eilat we start to feel restless and go searching for a travel agency that organizes day trips to Petra in Jordan. We manage to get tickets for next day and early next morning we find ourselves by the border control just outside Eilat city. It’s a relatively easy procedure to pass through first the Israeli and then the Jordan border. And then we jump on another bus that takes us north, passing the Wadi Rum desert with its strangely sculptured landscape and to the entrance to Petra.

CAVES, OR RATHER TOMBS CLOSE TO THE ENTRANCE. PETRA IS FURTHER ON.

Most people when they hear of Petra will probably think of the Indiana Jones movie where the final scenes take place inside a large building cut into the rock. And the building in question is actually the first one that you encounter entering Petra. It’s called the Treasure Chamber, a misleading name since it’s actually a tomb.

But before you get that far there is quite some way to walk. The road winds down through a narrow and steadily deepening ravine called “Siq”. It’s easy to understand how secret and difficult to invade the city must have been.

Petra was built, or rather excavated by a people called the Nabateans that by hacking out craftily constructed water canals on the side of the Siq could offer housing, food and market for caravans transporting goods on routes between Persia, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The city prospered and according to estimates the city had ca 30 000 inhabitants at its peak.

But in the year 106 AD a Roman army conquered Petra. The Romans added buildings to the city, but soon things were changing. The caravans took alternative routes and the city went into decline.

About a thousand years ago Petra “was lost” and forgotten. When a German explorer managed to come here in 1812 bedouins were living in Petra’s caves, and they preferred that the city kept on being forgotten.

But of course that didn’t happen. The rediscovery of Petra was a sensation and it became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985. The Bedouins hade to be evacuated and tourists poured in. Unfortunately our day trip didn’t give us time to see all of it, you should have at least 4-5 hours to spend there.

Next we return to Eilat to see the cools sea animals that help traumatized people to find their balance in life again.

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