Out of all the things we have done and seen on this trip, spending the day at Petra, the over 2,000 year old Nabatean city in the southern region of Jordan, has been one of my highlights. From the moment you start the two kilometer hike through the Siq, a canyon surrounded by soaring red sandstone walls, your breath is taken away not only by the architectural wonders of the city, but the natural setting.
The first major site we saw once we reached the end of the Siq is the Treasury of Petra or Al-Khazneh as it was called. It is immense – towering over you at an astonishing 43 meters high and 30 meters wide. It was originally built as a tomb for an important Nabatean king who wanted to be buried around all the treasures of his empire.
After the Treasury we proceeded through another canyon to the base of a very long set of stairs. Thinking it was just a place to goof around and get a better view, we started climbing up not realizing the trail consisted of 800 steps leading up to the High Place of Sacrifice. By the time we realized it we were already halfway up so we decided to continue our journey to the top. When we got to the top we had an incredible view of the desert, Petra, and the surrounding mountains. The High Place of Sacrifice was very important in Nabatean times as it was used to sacrifice animals to the gods and it was here important people had their funerals.
Once we got back down from the mountain we walked along the main road, which still contains bricks from Roman times and headed down the promenade marveling at the incredible architecture of the Nabateans. We got to see the ancient Nymphaeum and another tomb of a famous Nabatean king which is the only free standing structure in Petra.
The coolest thing about Petra was how the Nabateans incorporated aspects of the different civilizations around them into how they built their city. Aspects of Roman, Greek, Egyptian and other ancient peoples are clearly visible as you stroll through the city. If I ever go back to Jordan I am definitely adding Petra to my itinerary.