The Ancient Nabateans carved this massive amphitheater from the canyon walls, sacrificing previous burial niches that it cuts through. it can easily sit more than 300 people.
Petra is a wonder of old time, born when the world was supernatural. Rock was bone, earth was flesh, water was blood, sky was breath and history was myth. This is its lasting testament: unbelievably brilliant rose-colored rock–all the hues of a golden afternoon set in stone. Vermilion, ochre, rust and crimson as far as the eye can see and well beyond. This is Petra.
The first glimpse, I and most adults the world over, had of Petra was in the movie Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade–the cheesiest of the adventure trilogy–which lead audiences to dismiss it as but a movie set with colors too bright to be anything else but paint and edifices too fantastic to be anything but authentic. When I later learn it was for real, I belittled it as a at best a single facade, a must see but worth only few pictures. But Petra is anything but a mere tour stop; it is an entire ancient city that extends for several kilometers. Petra is worth a thousand picture; it is an experience that unfolds with every step through its canyon path.
The Al Khazneh, the first in series of wonders that stretches for kilometers, is revealed at the end of the As-SiqCanyon.
Literally meaning “The Rock”, Petra lies in Jordan, a most peaceful and stable kingdom hemmed in by Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Lead by a liberal and tolerant western-educated monarchy, it is one of the places in the Middle East where you will feel safe bringing your daughter, your mother or your wife. Many Jordanian speak English fluently. All are models of hospitality.
For honeymooners, Petra is a most romantic getaway that serves as climax after cruising the Nile in the Egypt, which borders Jordan along the Gulf of aqaba. For religious pilgrims, Petra is an oasis of calm, offering solace for souls battered at Israel and Palestine’s crowded pilgrimage sites.
Artisans painstakingly craft sand inside vials from Petra’s powdered rocks. The best designs use only natural colors.
Petra lies just beyond Mount Nebo, which is where, according to the final chapter of Deuteronomy, God first showed Moses a view of the Promised Land and where the prophet is said to be buried. A Catholic chapel now stands on the ruins of an ancient pilgrimage site. In 2000, Poe John Paul II visited the site, confirming its importance. A serpentine cross sculpture by Giovani Fantoni celebrating Moses’ power to turn his staff into snakes now stands atop Mount Nebo and marks the spot where one can see as far as the dead Sea and beyond.
To venture into Petra is said to walk in the steps of the prophet; The way to Petra is through the one-kilometer-long As-Siq canyon, lying beyond the Bedouin village of Wadi Mousa or the Valley of Moses.