The first day in Petra already showed itself from the most beautiful side. We immediately bought a 3-day pass. The whole area at Wadi Musa is huge and we doubted you could see it all in one day. To get into the former city you first have to go through the Siq. At the mouth of the Siq in the basin is probably the most famous construction of Petra, the nearly 40-meter-high and 25 -meter-wide, built in the Hellenistic style Khazne al-Firaun. The "Treasury of Pharaoh," as it was called by the Bedouins, was actually one of many rock tombs. It may have been created for the Nabatean king Aretas IV., Who died in the 1st century BC. Reigned.
From there, it went along the facade road to the Roman theater. I made a short trip to the high sacrificial place. On the way from Khazne al-Firaun to the center of Petra, on the left, is the Roman Theater, also carved directly from the pending rock. Depending on the source, it offered space for 45 seats and five to ten thousand spectators. To prevent water from collecting in the arena during rainfall, the Nabateans installed a sophisticated drainage system. A 25 meter high wall closed the theater to the outside. During its construction in the 1st century, some grave chambers were excavated, which had previously been driven into the rear rock massif. Presumably, the theater was destroyed by an earthquake in 363 AD. In 1961 it was rediscovered and excavated by American archaeologists.
Northeast of the theater rises the so-called royal wall. Halfway up, there are 13 monumental tombs, which due to their size and decoration are interpreted as royal tombs. These include the "Palace Tomb", the largest complex in Petra, the "Corinthian Tomb", the "Soldier's Tomb" and the "Urn Tomb" from the 2nd or 3rd century. The architectural styles of the tombs reveal Nabatean, Greek and Roman influences.
The next day we attacked the lower part of the city. From the colonnaded street we first visited the big palace Qasr al-Bint Fara'un and afterwards we went up to the monastery Ad-Deir.
Perpendicular to the royal wall runs in the direction of the west the "pillared street", the former main traffic axis of Petras. While the tombs hewn into the rock have survived the millennia, the homes of the Nabataeans have long since disintegrated. On the left and on the right side of the pillared street there are still remains of the market, the "Temenos Gate", a Byzantine basilica and several temples. The largest of them, Qasr al-Bint Fara'un from the 1st century BC. BC was possibly dedicated to the main Nabatean gods Dushara and Al-Uzza.
Passing the modern museum in the west of the valley basin, a mountain trail leads through Wadi Kharareeb to the ad-Deir rock temple, which is located outside the city itself. His name, in German "monastery", goes back to the fact that in the Middle Ages monks settled in it. It is 39 meters high and 47 meters wide; only the urn at the top of the round temple measures 9 meters in height. Because of its simple but monumental style and its secluded location, the ad-Deir is one of the most impressive works of Nabataean architecture.
Standing in front of the huge facade of the monastery. first becomes aware of the dimension of this monument. The Nabateans were definitely a high culture for me at the time. In horticulture I have already worked on some stones. But what the people have conjured out of the rock is unimaginable to me.
The third day we used to visit Little Petra. The Siq el-Barid, also called Little Petra, is located a few kilometers north of the Nabataean city of Petra. Although El-Barid is significantly smaller than Petra and has less magnificent facades, the original meaning was great: Petra Petra was a major caravan stop on the trade route between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea - and Petra's largest cargo handling center.
The narrow ravine at the entrance could be closed by a door and offered great security due to its inaccessibility. The actual accommodations are located in the narrow valley of Siq el-Barid. Throughout the gorge are numerous caves, niches, facades, canals and cisterns. Numerous stairs lead upwards - presumably to high-altitude victim places, where cult activities were carried out. The caves are mainly residential and (cult) dining rooms (Triklinien) - graves are few.
In conversation with the Bedouin who have lived here for centuries in the caves here, we learned that tourism has drastically declined in recent years. Before the Syrian war, there were up to 5,000 tourists per day. Today there are sometimes just under 500 visitors. This picture is presented throughout Jordan.
We used our last day to visit a bit the remote areas of Petra. Such as the unfinished tombs, the grave of the Roman soldier, the garden temple and the triclinium.
Especially the stone colors are very impressive and during the day this changes due to the sunlight again and again.
Often people asked us if my companion would be the wife or sister. Most people would not believe that this is my mother. Regularly I got offered up to 100 camels for her. A camel costs about 1'000 dollars on average. With the money I could spend a long time cycling through world history!
From Petra we drove shortly after Aqaba. However, the city does not have much to offer except beach and dive sites. So we drove pretty soon back to Amman and experienced there the highest flood for a long time.
The whole thing started harmless with a little rain first. But pretty soon everything evolved into a huge river. The whole traffic came completely to succumbing. After about an hour, the whole thing was over. Especially in Downtown, where we had our hotel, the property damage was considerable (about 5 million dinars ≈ 3 million euros). In addition, 4 people died in the floods. Rental prices have risen enormously since the war in Syria. In part, prices have quadrupled. Many can not afford their own apartment and therefore live illegally as lodgers in basements or garages. The flood surprised these people in their sleep.
From Amman we changed again to Madaba and visited first by taxi Jerash.
Already from the 6th millennium BC The first traces of human settlement in Gerasa date back to the first century BC. There are preserved Bronze Age and Iron Age traces. The name Gerasa comes from these times. The insignificant until the 1st century AD city under Roman rule and under the Roman peace experienced a rapid rise. It became part of the Decapolis and made as a trading city increasingly the older Petra competition.
Their inhabitants won ore in the nearby Adschlun mountains. From the middle of the first century onwards, this boom led to brisk construction and a rich, even today impressive wealth of monuments. Emperor Hadrian visited the city in winter 129/130. In the following centuries, the political situation in this region changed fundamentally and the city lost importance. Sometimes you can hardly see the surroundings because of all the pillars.
We dedicated our last visit to the desert castles around Azraq. The castles were built between the 7th and 8th centuries, mainly between 660 and 750 during the reign of the caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty, who had made 661 Damascus their new capital. Function and purpose is not finally clarified until today. They were probably used as defenses, for agricultural and economic purposes, as meeting places of the Bedouins (among themselves and with the governor of the Umayyad), as Badiyas (retirement homes of nobles) or as caravanserais. The facilities were partially built on the remains of older buildings, some newly built.
After that I had to say goodbye to my mother again. The 18 days went by quickly. Thank you very much for everything Mommy!
For four days I stayed in Amman to prepare myself for the onward journey. It is getting cool here in the north too. I would like to avoid the winter as much as possible and will therefore move on to the south.