It may be my limited travel experience, but I found Petra one of the most beautiful places on earth. The natural beauty, in addition to what the Nabateans, and later the Romans, hewed from the red rock, is nothing short of spectacular. All superlatives here are intended. I pray I have captured some of this wonder with my camera, so that you too to can experience my feelings being there. The photographs appear here in the order in which I caaptured them, allowing you to best share my experience.
Today, you enter the ancient city following a path in bright sunshine, strolling down from the Visitors' Centre. After a ten minute stroll, you enter a dim, narrow canyon, sometimes no wider than three meters. This abyss is in known in Arabic as al-Siq, the shaft. It winds its way slightly downwards for some one and half kilometres. Eventually you arrive at the remains of the Nabataean city, sitting at the crossroads the ancient Silk Road and Spice Routes. The Siq itself is a natural geological fault, produced by tectonic forces, then subsequently worn smooth by water erosion. The Siq's walls rise to a height varying between 90 and 180 meters, shadowing the now paved pathway in between. As you descend towards Petra you are given view of a plethora and panoply of colours and dancing light on the surrounding rocks, strata of red, orange, yellow and blue sandstone, infused with igneous metallic stripes.
The Siq walls were once adorned with baetyli, sacred stones endowed with life. Most have been all but worn away today, but remnants of a few remain. But God's own artwork far exceeds that of the Nabataean artistry. A mere thousand human words cannot not do justice to the shapes and colours, occurring "naturally" in the rock face.
Today you share the pathway through the Siq with the throngs of visitors, up to 7,000 a day in the high season. The background hum of voices is often interrupted by a deafening din. Hooves of horses thundering through the Siq, drawing the lazy ones and the elderly along the route, crowds clinging to the walls of the gorge to avoid being swept up in the storm.
A surprise awaits at the end of the Siq. You do a double take. At first a feeling that something is changing in the view variations of your last mile as you wound downwards along the Siq's snaking path. And then, suddenly rounding the last twist of this deep chasm, it is in full view before you, in all of its grandeur.
Click here to enter the wonder that is Petra, the Red Rock, haSela haAdom. These views were taken in October, 2011
Click here to view my take in April, 2013.
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