Petra, Jordan: History on the Rocks

Petra, Jordan, Nabatean, archeology, ruins, history, necropolis, ancient site, exploring, Middle East, travel, photos, Canon EOS Rebel, donkey, ilivetotravel, canyon, stone

I first went to Petra, Jordan back in 1998 on a day trip from Sharm-el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.  If you know the lay of the land, that may sound impossible.  Well, not if you take a flight from Sharm-el-Sheikh to Aqaba, Jordan and then hop on a bus.  That’s exactly what I did.  I did not have the luxury of time so it was an either do it on a day trip or not do it.  Since I could not predict the future, I had to go for it to be sure I got to see Petra in case I didn’t get to come back.

Petra, Jordan, Nabatean, archeology, ruins, history, necropolis, ancient site, exploring, Middle East, travel, photos, Canon EOS Rebel

Headed to Petra

Petra, Jordan, roads, travel

Great vistas along the way

Return to Petra

Fast forward 15 years and I return to this necropolis-turned-town-turned-movie-setting-turned-massive-tourist-site.  I was thrilled at the opportunity to return and explore it on more depth.  You see, in my first visit, I decided to walk my way in which is great in many ways but it eats away precious time for someone on a day trip there from Sharm-el-Sheikh.  The second time, while I did walk in, I walked faster knowing time was precious and I rented a donkey to take me up to save time.  That was a great idea except that the donkey preferred the edge of the path on the way up rather than risk hitting itself against the rocks at the other side of the path, making this rider a little bit worried about the way down!

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Donkey in the shade – smart!

Petra, Jordan, Nabatean, archeology, ruins, history, necropolis, ancient site, exploring, Middle East, travel, photos, Canon EOS Rebel, donkey, ilivetotravel

Giddy up!

Petra, Jordan, Nabatean, archeology, ruins, history, necropolis, ancient site, exploring, Middle East, travel, photos, Canon EOS Rebel, donkey, ilivetotravel

Look Ma, no hands!

Thanks, Nabateans

Petra is amazing due to how it has evolved over time but it was the Nabateans who deserve the credit (after God, of course) for this place.  Certainly, the landscape and topography are thanks to the Maker but what happened after that really starts with the Nabateans who carved a necropolis out of these beautiful rocks.  Others, like the Romans, continued to develop the site to what we know now.

Petra, Jordan, Nabatean, archeology, ruins, history, necropolis, ancient site, exploring, Middle East, travel, photos, Canon EOS Rebel, donkey, ilivetotravel, canyon, stone

Some of the tombs around Petra that later peoples used for other purposes – like commerce

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The Romans put Petra to good use

More than the Treasury

You can see evidence of amazing early engineering when you see the channels that were carved into the rock to capture the rare rainfall that rolled down canyon walls and take it into a natural “holding tank.”

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Channel that collected rainwater from the canyon walls and directed to a well

Also impressive are the facades of the tombs built into the rocks such as the Royal Tombs and other areas like the Monastery and the very famous Treasury, which many think to be what the Indiana Jones movie showed.  In reality the Treasury is more of a facade.  Be sure to get a guide who explains to you what you are looking at as the Treasury, for example, shows evidence of how it was carved out of the stone.  And be sure to go all over!

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The Royal Tombs from a distance

Petra, Jordan, Nabatean, archeology, ruins, history, necropolis, ancient site, exploring, Middle East, travel, photos, Canon EOS Rebel, Royal Tombs

Some of the Royal Tombs

My advice if you are visiting Petra and don’t have but a day or two is to use a donkey for some of the climbs (unless you want or need the exercise) and then walk and explore – this way, you will maximize what you will see from this one-of-a-kind place and there is PLENTY to see and admire about this unique site.

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My family “came along” with me to Petra!

 

During my second visit to Petra, I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board.  That notwithstanding, the stories I share were my real experiences and nothing else.  As they always are!

Photo of the Week – Mayan Ruins of Altun Ha, Belize

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This is the view down from the high pyramid at Altun Ha in Belize.  This is easy to visit whether you are visiting the country lounging on its great beaches or are in the country for a day stop in a cruise!

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“Moses Wuz Here” – Mt. Nebo, Jordan

Mt. Nebo, Jordan, tourism, photo, child, Canon EOS Rebel

Show me the way to the Promised Land, said Moses

Mt. Nebo is located on what seems to be an area north of the Dead Sea that sits high on a ridge and, according to the Bible, is the place where Moses was allowed to see the Promised Land he would never enter (after guiding his people out of Egypt for 40 years!).

Moses, Mt. Nebo, Jordan, tourism, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Moses, I suppose

Mt. Nebo, Jordan, Moses, Promised Land, Holy Land, religion, archeology, history, sign, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Today, without Moses around, this sign does the job of pointing to the Promised Land

Mt. Nebo overlooks the valley of the River Jordan and one can glimpse Jericho and Jerusalem to the west on a good day.  The site was visited by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI at some point giving the site an added level of credibility if you will, as a site of religious importance.

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Welcome to Mt. Nebo!

It is also claimed Moses is buried there but there is no conclusive evidence (as conclusive as one may expect a few thousand years later…).  Whether any of this interests you or not, the views of the valley below are certainly worth it.

IMG_0723

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Some of the view

The visit

There was a small temporary-looking exhibit at the site showing some of the beautiful mosaics of the remains of a church found in the first half of the 20th century on Mt. Nebo.  It really makes you ponder the history of the place and the area and all the events it has witnessed over time.

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Part of the mosaics

Mount Nebo, Jordan, mosaic, Moses, history, religion, archeology, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Color manages to survive close to two millenia

Mount Nebo, Jordan, mosaic, Moses, history, religion, archeology, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Up close and personal

The place is crowded with tourists of all ages and that takes away for sure from the importance of the place.  Perhaps some construction during the time of my visit contributed to the small chaos, though there were moments when I was glad there was chaos and a crowd…

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Young Mt. Nebo visitors

Mt. Nebo, Jordan, tourism, photo, child, Canon EOS Rebel

Another schoolkid visiting the site

I was patient, though, and I was rewarded when the key spot where Moses stood cleared up for a good 5 minute and I was able to soak it all in better during that pause in the visitors.

Let ME show you the Promised Land

So, in case you have not been there, allow me show you the Promised Land!

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“Over yonder!” says this modern-day Moses-wanna-be

 

During this trip, I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board.  That notwithstanding, the stories I share were my real experiences and nothing else.  As they always are!

Ancient Roman Ruins That Are Alive Today in Jerash, Jordan

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Yes, Jordan is more than Petra and if you have read some of my other posts on what I saw in Jordan, you are aware of that. But when it comes to historical sites of significance, it is worth noting that Jerash, in northwestern Jordan is quite important a historical place on its own right even if overshadowed by the more famous Petra.  However, Jerash struck me not only for its historical significance but also because it was ALIVE!!!

Jerash – the ancient Greco-Roman city

Before I tell you how it is alive, let’s explore the historical and architectural gem Jerash is.  Jerash (known as Gerasa in older times) was a city built originally in Greco-Roman times (estimated to have been established in the 4th century BC) and which, after a large earthquake in the 8th century and further destruction brought about by other earthquakes and wars, became a footnote of history until it was begun to be excavated in the early 19th century.  Even Emperor Hadrian himself visited Jerash in his days and there is a triumphal arch commemorating that visit.

Arch Hadrian Roman ruin Jordan Jerash history Canon EOS Rebel

Arch of Hadrian built to honor his visit
Arch Hadrian Roman ruins history Jerash Gerasa Jordan Canon EOS Rebel
Detail of the Arch of Hadrian

Among the many sites in Jerash to explore are the Forum, temples to Zeus and Artemis, the Cardo Maximus (column-lined road), the North and South theaters and many other ruins.
FOrum Roman rins Jerash Jordan history
View of the Forum at Jerash
Forum Roman ruins colonnade columns Jerash Jordan History Canon EOS Rebel
Detail of the colonnade of the Forum
Mosaic Roman ruins Byzantine church Jerash Jordan art design Canon EOS Rebel

Mosaic floor of one of the 3 contiguous Byzantine churches on the site

Cardo Maximus Roman Ruins Colonnade Columns history Jerash Jordan Canon EOS Rebel
Visitors walking down the Cardo Maximus, the north-south colonnaded street

Fallen column Roman ruin history Jerash Jordan Canon EOS Rebel

Jerash’s ruins did not survive powerful earthquakes and other ravages as this reminds us

Columns temple artemis jerash jordan history roman ruins

Beautiful columns in the Temple of Artemis

The place is alive

Oh, you think I am talking figuratively, aren’t you??  There is a column in the Temple of Artemis that is actually moving.  You can place your hand at its base and you will feel it moving.  Yes, indeed!  But that is not quite what I mean when I say Jerash is alive…

Moving column temple artemis Jerash Jordan Roan ruins

I hesitated for a second putting my hand in there. I let someone else go first…

There were also vegetation around (this being the greener part of Jordan) like the following which also contributes to making Jerash a site that is “alive”.  But that’s still not what I mean…

Fig tree in Jerash, Jordan Roman ruins Canon EOS Rebel

Fig tree along the path

But what I really meant about Jerash being alive was neither of the prior two photos.  The day we visited there were several groups of schoolchildren visiting and they enjoyed chanting in the large Roman theater – almost like competing to see who had the best chants – and running up the stands.

Jerash Jordan children Roman theater Canon EOS Rebel

Children enjoying and LIVING the ruins!

Jerash Jordan children Roman theater Canon EOS Rebel

Children enjoying and LIVING the ruins!

Jerash Jordan children Roman theater Canon EOS Rebel

Children climbing the stands of the theater

Jerash Jordan children Roman theater Canon EOS Rebel

Jerash Jordan children Roman theater Canon EOS Rebel

The smile so typical of every kid we ran into! A happy memory for us all

Though these ancient ruins were some of the most impressive I have seem, it was great to see a historic place so alive that day – it helped me connect more to the essence of Jordan via its children!

 

During this trip, I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board.  That notwithstanding, the stories I share were my real experiences and nothing else.  As they always are!

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