Petra (May 7)

We choose the Israel/Jordan tour because Petra, one of the wonders of the ancient world, was a site we have wanted to visit for some time. Finally we arrived in Petra, the highlight of our tour. Our hotel was within walking distance of the entrance to the National Park so early in the morning, Zuhair, our guide led us past the Visitors Center and into the park.

Zuhair leads us into Petra

The name Petra derives from the Latin word Petrae, meaning rock. Petra was the principal city of the ancient Nabataea, though subsequently ruled by several other empires, including Roman, Byzantine and Persian. Petra had been forgotten for centuries until Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burehardt "rediscovered" it in 1812.

The walk from the entrance of the park to the main city takes about an hour and along the route there are several significant buildings carved into the rock.

The Obelisk Tomb and the Triclinium

However, the real adventure begins when the path suddenly narrows and enters a water cut gorge. The path through the gorge is known as"The Siq" or snake.

"The Siq" begins

As you walk further along The Siq, the walls get higher and the path gets narrower.

The colors in the rocks become more intense and the scale overwhelming.

Finally, through a narrow gap, you catch site of the building everyone has come to see - The Treasury.

Of course, the name "The Treasury" is misleading but the building is spectacular. It's actually a mausoleum and crypt built in the 1st century CE. It's name derives from a legend that bandits or pirates hid their treasure in a  stone urn high on the second level. The facade is carved into the rock and there are no interior rooms.

Yes, we did take a selfie

But we didn't ride a camel - at least not that day.

There are still marks on the left and right where the the builders rested their scaffolding. The figure in the center is almost completely obliterated by gunfire, possibly when used for target practice or possibly by Muslims who did not approve the representation of a human figure.

The Treasury is so impressive. it's hard to stop taking pictures, but there's more to see further down the path.

Most of the oldest buildings are tombs

But there are also temples - some cut into the rock

Some of more traditional construction

And there's an amphitheater with tombs above it

Some of the tombs have spectacular ceilings

Amazing when you think it's all carved out of solid rock

The ceiling of two of the buildings

Kris with more tombs behind her

The same temples from a closer position

There's even a small church, from the 5th to 7th centuries, now used for services by visiting groups

If you get tired, the locals will happily sell you a camel ride.

The site covers two square miles and after a lot of walking downhill, we now had to walk all the way back uphill. Fortunately, the day was getting cooler, so we stopped for one selfie at The Treasury and struggled back through The Siq to our hotel !