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Jordan 1. Petra and More

Our most recent adventure was to the Kingdom of Jordan. Sadly for Jordan, tourism in the country is down about 80%. There is no reason for that other than media fueled paranoia. It is a wonderful country brim full of unique and exciting things to see and do. And, it is very safe.

We chose Jordan Select Tours as our agency and they assigned us a very knowledgeable and personable guide named Haytham Hnouty. When you visit Jordan, as I very much encourage you to do, follow in our footsteps and enjoy the visit.

I mentioned unique things didn’t I? How about this.

Philadelphia is in the Middle East???

Well, don’t tell people in Pennsylvania this, but yes this is where the first Philadelphia was. It was the original “City of Brotherly Love” .

philly crop-crop

This original site of Philadelphia is located in what is known as The Citadel, which is one of the seven hills in Amman. From this site you can see all the other hills, half of which are in the “old section” and the other half in the newer area. From here you also have an excellent view of the Roman Theater. This site also contains the temple of Hercules, but all that is left of the Herc is a very large hand.


Where Moses died!

Those of you who are faithful readers will remember I made a post about walking where Gandhi died. On this trip I got to walk where Moses died.


The site is called Mt. Nebo. It is a pretty decent climb. (Which is probably what killed him, carrying  those tablets up steep hills and all…) From up here you can see a nice portion of the Holy land, including the site in the Jordan river where Jesus was baptized.


It is now owned and maintained by the Franciscan Society of the Holy Land.

This is/is not a cross. This site is holy to three religions

This is/is not a cross. This site is holy to three religions so it is intended to be generic.

And now for something truly unique.


Just to establish my credentials… I have been to Machu Pichu, more than once. I have been to Easter Island. I have been to Angkor Wat. I have been to see the Terracotta Warriors. I have seen the Taj Mahal. I have been to the Pyramids.

Now you can believe me when I say that Petra is as astonishing, or maybe more so, than any of those.

Petra Sig

This is the “sig” at Petra. It is a kilometer long gorge that you walk through from the entrance to Petra park in the city of Petra. It was naturally formed by an earthquake. It has a gravel floor, but parts of it have the paving stones that the Romans installed. When the Romans  took over Petra they found a Bedouin community that had existed for centuries. The economy of the community was trade. They were a stop on the trail for people moving spices, Mir and Frankincense. Both sides of the sig had channels to move water into town from a a dam which captured excessive rainfall, and water from a spring. These were established by the Nebetau, the original builders of Petra.Petra. Along the walls of the siq are many small niches containing block gods of various kinds. The walls also have forms that just by nature resemble things like whales. Our guide pointed out a a couple just to set us up. Then he pulled us aside and pointed backwards and said “what do you see now?” We stared and said “nothing”. Then he turned us around and said “Now?”

treasury at Petra

When we turned around we captured by our first view of “The Treasury”

We were there early enough in the morning to have this fantastic experience almost to ourselves

Petra trasury

Take a few more steps and your neck is twisted upward to catch the whole experience of this iconic structure.

Carved out of Sandstone and a couple of thousand years old, it is 80 meters high and 40 wide. I am not Indiana Jones, so I was not allowed inside. Nobody is now.

It is misnamed. It never was the treasury of the Nebetau or the Bedouins, although many early visitors tore it apart inside looking for the gold they were sure was there. The Romans came to Petra and ruled it for a while. They abandoned it after an earthquake.

But later, a traveler did what all us travelers wish we could do. A Swiss man name Johann Ludwig Burckhardt “discovered”Petra in 1812. ( I am always amused that the first time a white man sees somewhere, he has “discovered” it, but I am digressing)  He was an intrepid traveler who kept hearing rumors of a lost city. He was fluent in Arabic and managed to convince the Bedouins that he was indeed a muslim who had come to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of the brother of Moses, Aaron, who is buried on top of the mountain above Petra. They showed him the way into the city and his drawings and writings attracted many more visitors.



mule in Petra

This traveler decided that he would rent a mule to get around.

I am glad I did. Petra is much more than just the Treasury building.

tombs in Petra

You pass many many of these tombs.

The tombs of the Nebetau became  the homes of the Bedouins. There are about 3000 of them. Our mule guide actually grew up in one of them. The government built a village outside of Petra and moved all the families out twenty years ago. Most of them still rely on Petra tourism to make a living.

The next place you really need to go is called The Monestary. Because we started early in the day, and because we rented mules, we got there before anyone else and we were able to enjoy it in peace. Guidebooks will tell you that there are 800 or 900 steep steps carved out of slippery sandstone to climb up to the site. I think it is at least 1000, but we let the mules do the hard part.

Monastery in Petra

This really was a Monastery. Figure how big it is by the size of my wife in front of it.

Along the way, there are many places to stop for tea or whatever. For those of you who cannot live off-line, there is this.



The hotels charge for WiFi, but not the Bedouins! I was amused at WiFi in a place like this!

OK kind readers, this post has gotten too long. But our trip to Jordan is far from over. Stay tuned, because in the next post I will take you to…




Thanks for reading, share with a friend, and make a comment!



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2 Responses so far.

  1. Peter Page says:

    Every time I think Forrest has been everywhere, he goes some place new. Intrepid, I have to give him that.

  2. Leeann says:

    Great pictures and always a well written history lesson! Thanks :)
    Love you lots…

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