Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Rose-Red City

What can you say about Petra? Carved into the sandstone hills by the Nabateans - the masters of desert, water, and trade -- the rose-red city lives up to all the hype. And then some. We have always known about the Treasury (made famous by Indiana Jones), but we hadn't appreciated the extent of the city. After eight hours of exploring the sandstone tombs, temples, and churches, we were fulfilled, but exhausted.

The first photo to the right is our take on the classic view of the Treasury, the first great tomb carved into the sandstone. You approach through a narrow canyon -- the siq -- and eventually get glimpses of the building. Of course, it isn't actually a Treasury. Instead, it's a tomb.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a picture of the Treasury without any pesky tourists in front of it? (Hint: Crowds thin near the end of the day.)

The long climb to the Monastery is worth it. If you can survive the climb, the animal waste, and the occasional run-away donkey, you are rewarded with another stunning tomb carved into the sandstone -- plus some outstanding views.

The sandstone is beautiful, with blues and yellows joining the predominant reds.

One highlight in the siq is the larger-than-life carving of a camel caravan. In this photo, you can see the outline of one camel, its feet, and the lower body of a man leading it. You can also see Petra's one great weakness. Sandstone erodes over time, so it's almost impossible to get a sense of how the tombs and temples originally looked.

Finally, we should mention that Petra also has a lovely mosaic. We are particularly fond of the giraffes shaped as camels (or are they camels colored like giraffes?).

No comments:

Post a Comment