This is Petra

Petra, Jordan.

The magnificent facade pictured above was featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

I traveled to Petra in April of 1998 with the US Batt CSM and Chaplain.  We traveled down through the Sinai via Eilat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan.  On the way there we stopped off at a Crusader Fortress Island on the Red Sea.  We didn’t get to go into the Fortress as we had no means of crossing the Red Sea.  We snapped a couple of photos and drove on.

Petra is high in the mountains.  I was surprised to see snow drifts that were 3 feet high on the road there.  One thinks of Jordan as arid desert.  I never imagined snow.  Certainly not that amount.

Petra is a city built into the side of cliffs by a civilization called the Nabateaens.  They pre-date the Greeks and Romans by a few centuries.  It is believed that they were a Semitic people related to the Arabs.  The city was occupied by the Greeks and Romans in later times.  Therefore, the architecture reflects the various styles of those civilizations.

Accessing the ruins of Petra is a bit of an adventure.  One must walk down a steep valley and into what amounts to a crack in the mountains of the area.  At points the path is no more than 2 or 3 meters wide.  As you walk down the path, you see brilliant colors swirling all about you in the sandstone walls.  Reds.  Pinks.  Blue.  Purples and Browns.  The path narrows and widens.  Always sloping downwards.  The end of the trail is fairly abrupt and leaves most of us stilled in awe.  Mouth agape.  Staring at what is truly one of the wonders of the ancient world.  The Treasury.  You’ll catch glimpses of it as the trail ends.  Even so, nothing prepares you for the wonder of coming upon the Treasury.  There are no words that can truly describe this place.  I stared at it for 15 minutes before I finally remembered to snap a photo.  It is as memorable and as beautiful as the Taj Mahal or the Pyramids.

After passing the treasury, you must climb several paths to access the incredible ruins dating from the Nabateaens, Greeks and Romans.  There is the Roman Amphitheatre.  Several tombs and catacombs.  A prison.  Roman and Greek buildings and temples.  The masterpiece, though, is the Cathedral.  A massive structure built high up on the mountain.  It’s a challenging trek to reach the Cathedral but it’s well worth the effort.