Magical Petra: Backpacking the Middle East (A Photographic Guide)

Updated on March 6, 2019
jreuter profile image

Jason is currently working on an M.A. and finding new ways to annoy cats.

 Al-Khazneh, also known as "The Treasury." You may recognize this from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."  It was the Temple of the Holy Grail.
Al-Khazneh, also known as "The Treasury." You may recognize this from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." It was the Temple of the Holy Grail.

Two Perfect Days in Petra

"Would you like some tea?" she asked, as her doe-eyed children sold postcards and scampered among the promontories near Al-Deir. To the west lay the eastern border of Israel, dotted with crumbling, weathered mountain tops. Behind us, spread among every high place, low place, and in between, lay the ancient city of Petra, stoically waiting here for millennia, giving testament to the ingenious, flawless hands of its creators.

The Bedouin people spend their days here, among rose-red temples and towering, craggy peaks, selling anything and everything that may carry some minute worth among tourists . . . even rocks. One Bedouin child, a boy who must have been about eight, approached me with a box of these (albeit pretty ones) pleadingly delivering his most repeated English phrase—"One dinar!" (about $1.20). I immediately picked up the nearest rock I could find and vainly tried to sell it to him. First a look of confusion, then a sly smile spread across his face as if to imply, "Yes. I know. I'm trying to sell rocks at Petra."

One may have better luck trying to sell a glass of salt water on a Tahitian Island. There are rocks everywhere, as this is an extremely barren and harsh landscape. Think of the Badlands and the Grand Canyon mixed into one, packed with ancient ruins. This is Petra.

Al-Khazneh
Al-Khazneh

Exhaustively Amazing

After two full days of hiking, I barely grasped the scope of this city. There are remnants of the Nabataeans everywhere, on cliff-tops, in valleys, even in five-foot-wide slot canyons. All throughout this once grand trading epicenter, there exist temple facades, arches, tunnels hewn through the sides of mountains and stairways reaching impossible heights. And impossible is a word that occurs often in the minds of those who visit here.

The temple facades at Petra were carved into the sides of cliff walls out of sandstone, and are flawless—absolutely smooth, symmetrical and stunningly perfect. Once a temple was begun, there was little room for error, and to my eye, no errors were made.

"The Monastery"
"The Monastery"
More Foggy Views of the Monastery
More Foggy Views of the Monastery

Hiking Galore

My love for hiking was fully satisfied here, from Al-Kazneh to the High Place of Sacrifice, from the Street of Facades to the Royal tombs. The high places offer fabulous, sweeping views of the landscape below. Amber-colored temples surrounded by canyon walls of copper, rose, and burnt sienna give way to a blazing-blue expanse of sky. Truly magnificent. This place may rival the pyramids.

A Photo Tour of My Time in Petra

Questions & Answers

    © 2008 Jason Reuter

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      • profile image

        Ngozi 

        4 years ago

        Hi Petra,Great blog! I was looking for sietmhong to do last night and found your blog and your tutorial for slippers. I love to crochet but not very good at it. I am not good at following instructions I usually make things up . But I (mostly) followed yours and finished a pair of slippers last night. Now I have to make them for my 2 year old daughter too I will put them up on my blog with your link. ( I am still in baby shoes for blogging, but growing slowly)I also love all your photos! I was just thinking, I will need a new camera; or just take my husband's for my blog.I may even attempt some of your recipes too.I sew you were in Hungary for holiday. Hope you had a nice time. I am Hungarian and live in Budapest with my Irish husband and our toddler.You've got a new follower in Budapest now Cheers!Krisztina

      • jreuter profile imageAUTHOR

        Jason Reuter 

        10 years ago from Portland, Oregon

        I'm confused, what does this hub have to do with smoking weed?

      • profile image

        Greem 

        10 years ago

        Smoke much, bud? ;P All I can say is I'm THERE, man. Ancient ruins and good herb make me happy.

      • profile image

        ahmad bedool 

        10 years ago

        im bedouin of petra thank you for thes . i live in the cave in petra any 1 want to stay you are welcome . mobail. 00962796190243

      • SweetiePie profile image

        SweetiePie 

        11 years ago from Southern California, USA

        What an amazing trip and the pictures are just beautiful!

      • Woody Marx profile image

        Woody Marx 

        11 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        Great! Petra was in one of the Indiana Jones movies and is a real gem of Middle Eastern places to visit!

      • solarshingles profile image

        solarshingles 

        11 years ago from london

        Jreuter, this is so wonderful place! I really want to travel there to se it and to touch those monuments. Thank you for sharing.

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