The rift narrowed little by little. The path was rocky and at times zigzagged. All around us, the stones took on shades of red, brown, gray, orange, and yellow. But, after a kilometer, the panorama changed. It was darkening and, in the background, through a thin entrance, an imposing pink light illuminated the route.
Our guide told us. “Close your eyes until I warn you.” We were impatient. We already knew that we were meters away from observing “The Treasury”. We advance a few meters and finally open them.
We had seen it in photos on social networks, novels and even in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Now it was our turn.
We were in Petra, the pink city in the middle of the Jordanian desert. The capital of the Nabatean kingdom for at least 8 centuries (B.C.) and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, since 2007.
Literally speechless, we were looking at the Al-khazna, known as “The Treasury of Petra”. A building literally sculpted out of sandstone rock, as is the entire ancient city. Its magnificent 40-meter-high facade, almost intact, would make anyone believes that it was built only a few centuries ago. But, according to the guides, there are legends that it was the tomb of a pharaoh in the 1st century AD.
It was a trip to the past or to the movies. Camels, donkeys, Bedouin merchants selling handicrafts and carriages with horses transporting tourists. It all made the site charming. Suddenly, a “Wifi” sign brought us back to reality. It was the right time to use Snapchat, Instagram or record live for Facebook.
Petra was on the bucket list of my tour. My group arrived from Australia, the United States (Boston, San Francisco, New York, Chicago), Argentina, Paraguay, Spain and Mexico and landed in Israel. We left Eilat (south Israel) at 7am, crossed the border into Jordan and after 2 hours by bus, and 2 hours of walking, we made it to the site.
The entrance to the city is made through the Siq, a narrow canyon, one kilometer long, surrounded by cliffs that rise to 80 meters high
The journey inside Petra begins from Al Khazna. It’s fascinating to observe a whole city sculpted on the rock and see a mosaic of colors reveal themselves as the sun goes down. Due to erosion, some buildings have lost their shape, but the influence of the cultures that lived in the city is noticeable.
Starting off the Greek pillars of the “Treasury”, through the Roman Theater, the tombs with pyramid designs and the Urn Tomb that was a Byzantine church. You can argue that modernity has left its mark too, since the bathrooms are equipped with hand dryers.
Camels accompanied us on the long journey. One option was to pay to get on one, ride a carriage or just walk it out. The group decided to make it on foot
After 4 hours of walking, 3 bottles of water, a Gatorade and 800 stairs carved out of the rock, we arrived at the last stop: The Ad-Deir Monastery. More than the temple, the view towards the desert leaves you speechless. And, standing on the rock and extending your arms made you feel like the king of the world.
On the way back, we had to speed it up. On 1-day tours you cannot visit all of Petra. Time is limited and you had to cross back into Israel before 8pm. I returned to the bus with the satisfaction of crossing the fantastic Pink City off my bucket list.
- Petra is located 240 km south of Jordan’s capital Amman and 120 km north of the Red Sea.
- Visiting Jordan requires a visa, which is obtained in advance at the country’s embassy, or easily at the Amman’s airport or on the border with Israel. The cost is 60 USD.
- The Jordanian currency is the Jordan Dinar (JD). At the moment of my trip, it was equivalent to 1.41 US dollar (USD).
- The ticket has a value of 50JD (71USD) if it is for one day and 55JD (78 USD) for two. It is advisable to stay two days to be able to visit the extensive area
- In my case, I chose a tour that started from Eilat, Israel. The cost was 216 USD. They pick you up from the hotel and process the visa to cross the border. www.tourisisrael.com
- You can enter visitpetra.jo for information on hotels on the outskirts of Petra.