Petra, the rose-red city …

It is week two of the new year and week twelve for me since I arrived in Istanbul – and on Tuesday, I left Istanbul for the first time since October 2010! What a feeling. Somehow strange and very exciting at the same time. A friend encouraged me to jump on a plane, do the two-hour flight and come to Jordan to see Petra, considered to be the eighth wonder of the Ancient World. And it did not disappoint!

Petra is known for its rock-cut/carved architecture. The Nabataeans, who settled in the area, were ancient Arab tribes who originally came from the Arabian Peninsula, more than 2200 years ago. They came under the influence of major foreign cultures, due to the fact that they were engaged in the caravaneering business and became the undisputed masters of the region’s trade routes.

Profits from the caravanning business enabled them to establish and organise a powerful kingdom that stretched to Damascus and included parts of the Sinai and Negev deserts. The all too powerful Roman Empire, though, was not willing to accept a strong local kingdom and in 106 AD the Nabataen kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire.

The Nabataeans were very clever and practical people, they never believed in national exclusiveness, were open to outside cultural influences, absorbed them and added to them their own native touch so that the final outcome of this interaction was a wonderful cultural melting pot. A walk through the old Petra attests to this. One can discern classical (Graeco-Roman), Egyptian, Mesopotamian and local styles, all fused into one unified artwork. The city was throbbing with life, crisscrossing by paved roads, agricultural terraces, water harvesting systems, artworks and temples, not to mention theatres. After reaching its historical peak, Petra was gradually abandoned and after the 14th century it was completely lost to the West, until a Swiss traveller named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered it in 1812.

It was an absolutely extraordinary experience to discover Petra. All in all we spent 12 hours there climbing to the top of the city which is crowned by the most breathtaking Ad-Deir (Monastery). The monumentality and stunning beauty of the carved buildings is simply overwhelming and has to be experienced first hand. No photograph can do justice to the real thing. An unforgettable trip …

4 Responses to “Petra, the rose-red city …”
  1. MFV says:

    I really, really like the photos. Congratulations. I am glad you enjoyed the trip. M

  2. Queen Melania says:

    Happy New Year, Patrick. With these photos you have truly excelled yourself. Such lines. Such colours. Such camels. We sit in London where it pours with rain. I have a ceiling leak and am getting quite used to getting ready in the morning with the neat “ding ding ding” of a drip in a large saucepan next to me. Such glamour! More soon, please – the light in the pictures is enough to remind me that there is a purpose to life beyond hibernation. It’s a start. Love, M (Regina).

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