Petra, Jordan – The highlight of the trip so far!

Without a doubt, Petra in Jordon is the highlight of the trip.

From Oman and its capital, Muscat we travelled south and then around into the Red Sea.  Once in the Red Sea we headed north to the Gulf of Aqaba and the only port in Jordan, Aqaba.  This is a fascinating city.  From our ship we can see the border with Israel, the border with Egypt and the border with Saudi Arabia.  It is one of the few places in the world where four borders come together.  Visitors from Israel, for example, come across from the adjoining city of Elat in Israel.  At the border they walk across and are picked up after clearance by buses in Aqaba, Jordan.  Surprisingly we have not seen any type of military presence with the exception of armed guards at the entrance to the Jordanian palace on the west side of the city.  Aqaba is the only port city in Jordan making it strategically very important for imports.  Jordan, as we were told many times, does not have any resources, not even fresh water and therefore has been able to stay independent and free from takeover attempts by the surrounding three nations.

A two hour bus ride north on the King’s Highway takes you to the mountain town of Petra and an experience that you will never forget.  Petra is more than two thousand years old and was built by the Nabataeans in the heart of the Shara Mountains.  It prospered until the first centuries BC and AD and was a vital part of the major trading route connecting ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.  Deserted in the middle of the 7th century, only the local Bedouins in the area knew of its existence.  Rediscovered in 1812, the site of this fascinating and beautiful ancient city is now a UNESCO heritage location and has been designated as one of the new Seven Wonders of the world. The walk into the site takes more than an hour and is very rough terrain but well worth it.  As you approach the site you are walking through a very narrow path with walls of sandstone towering hundreds of feet on both sides of you.  All of a sudden you come around a curve and in the crack in front of you unfolds this forgotten city–all carved out of the rock.

All of a sudden you see through a slit in the rock, the formations of The Treasury.

More details of the Treasury emerge as you get closer along the path.

The Treasury rises hundreds of feet into the air. Excavations below the site continue to this day and are finding more and more structures of the ancient city.