Welcome to another around the world with with me, Dave. This is the place where I tell you all about the places around the world I hope to one day visit.
Our stop this week takes us to Jordan and a place made that played a key role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
It is of course Petra.
Most people when they think of Petra think of its most elaborate ruin at the end of the Siq path, Al Khazneh or the Treasury (which I’ll be calling it from now on because it’s so much easier!) which let’s be honest looks bloody brilliant, but is in fact only one small part of Petra, for you see Petra is a city.
I think a lot of this confusion probably has something to do with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade because you see them enter the Treasury in the film. Although the Treasury is a mausoleum/crypt so if you are going to store something as valuable as the Holy Grail I suppose that is as good a place as any? You know if you don’t want to buy a safe that is.
The Siq, the entrance pathway, opens out to the Treasury, which gives the iconic image used in the Last Crusade, but beyond it is an entire city carved out of/into the rocks and stone of the surrounding area making it a great example of rock-cut architecture which is literally what you think it is, cutting rock to make things. There is an amphitheatre cut into a hillside with tombs overlooking and facing it because hey even the dead need something to do. I was going to say kill time but it felt wrong.
Petra is also called the Rose City because of the colour of the stone and rock that it is carved from/into. I suppose Rose City sounds a lot nicer and friendlier than the Red City, that sounds rather ominous. Although saying that I think there is a link between rose and red linguistically.
Petra is pretty old too, it was constructed, or should that be carved, possibly as early as 312 B.C.E, so while it is not as old as Stonehenge it’s still pretty old.
What makes Petra even more incredible is that it has a water conduit system that was used to control the water. The area is prone to flash floods and the water conduit system with its dams and cisterns allowed that water to be stored for prolonged droughts meaning that the city was not overly dependent on the floods for water. Genius really.
Sadly water damage and erosion is now one of the biggest threats to Petra along with, rather ironically, unsustainable tourism. You’d think the money tourism brings in would actually help to protect the site but apparently not which is a bit of a shame.
If, or hopefully rather when, I visit Petra I will play the Indiana Jones theme music to myself at least once. The rest of the time I will just hum it.
I think Petra just looks magical. The skill, the time, and the effort it must have taken to carve out all that stone and rock is unbelievable but to turn carve it into such magnificent pieces is mind-blowing.
Remember to check back next week to see where we’ll be stopping next time.
Missed previous stops? Check them out below