Jordan Discovery Day 5 – More Petra

Where and when: Petra, Jordan – 4th Feb 2023

0800: Today is a free day for us to spend at Petra, so the minibus drops us off at the entrance to Petra. Our Intrepid tour leader has given us some suggestions for the day to help us cover many of the trails at Petra. I am hoping to be able to visit the Monastery, Royal Tombs, Treasury viewpoint and if there is time, the High Place of Sacrifice.

0845: Arrive at Treasury – the walk from the entrance to Petra to the Treasury takes a good 45 minutes. Stop here for a few minutes for  photos. Most of the elements of the emergency exercise yesterday (including the participants) have been removed.

The Treasury

Perhaps the most famous monument on Petra, the Treasury is a believed to be a museoleum for a Nabatean King. It was named “Al-Khazneh”, or “The Treasury”, in the early 19th century by the area’s Bedouin tribes as they believed it contained treasures. Although they have faded with time, the carvings in the Treasury facade are incredibly detailed. Among other things, they represent Greek/Roman gods.

0915: Walk past the Amphitheatre and the Colonnade to arrive at the start of the hike to the The Monastery. The trail to the monastery takes about 45 minutes. It is mostly uphill, but there are flat sections intermittently. These are  lined with shops selling sourvernirs. Views along the way are magnificent.

Start of the Treasury Trail

1000: Arrive at the Monastery. This is the most well preserved and largest monument in Petra.

The Monastery

Like many of the other monuments in Petra it’s original purpose is not known. It is believed it may have been a place for ceremonies or a tomb for a Nabatean King. The structure has several incised crosses carved into the wall, which could indicate that the structure was used as a church during the Byzantine period. Due to these crosses the monument started to be referred to as “Ad Dier” (meaning “The Monastery”) by the Bedouins.

The Monastery

There is also a small cafe and rest-stop here.
From the Monastery, there are many signposts to the “best view in the world”. But each sign points to the next sign and there is no indication of actually how far away you have to go to get to the best view in the world. After following this trail for about 10 minutes, I decided to head back, wanting to preserve my energy for exploring the rest of Petra.

Signposts to the “best view in the world”

1030: After a brief rest, we head back down, stopping at a couple of sourvernir shops.

On the way back from the Monastery

1115: Arrive back at the Qasr Al Bint Fairuh (meaning “House of Daughter of the Pharaoh) . This is another ruin next Great Temple – the it is thought to have been dedicated to a Nabatean or Greek diety.

Qasr Al Bint – Palace of Daugh

We decide to have an early lunch here before exploring the rest of Petra. Thankfully the prices at the Nabatean restaurant here are half that of the prices at the entrace yesterday, and there is a good WiFi connection.

1145: Having a look at the Byzantine era Churches.  The there are two Churches here, both thought to date from5th and 6th century. In the karger church, the floor mosaic is still well preserved. Behind this is the Blue Church – so called because of the blue granite pillars. Bit further on is the Ridge Church, thought to be the oldest church building in Petra, built on the ridge overlooking the city in the 3rd or 4th century CE.

Byzantine Church
Mosaics inside the Church
The Blue Church

1230: Walk from the churches towards the Royal Tombs. From here, there are also good views of the Great Temple. The Temple is believed to have been built in the first century AD. However its exact function, and whether it was a religious or administrative building is not known.

The Great Temple

Next we are infront if the Royal Tombs – a series of large museoleums with magnificient facades carved out of the Jabal al-Khubtha rock massif. The monumental size and richly decorated facades suggest that they were built for wealth or important people, possibly Petran kings or queens.

Royal Tombs
Royal Tombs

1230: Start of the trail to the Treasury view point. This trail takes you over and across the mountain to a view point overlooking the Treasury. This hike turns out to be surprisingly hard, as there are many continuous sets of stairs.

Start of the Treasury viewpoint trail

The views across Petra are pretty spectacular though. You can see the temple, Bedouin village and amphitheatre from here.

View of the great temple and churches from the trail
View of the Amphitheatre and street of facades

The last 15 minutes of the trail is not well marked, and in the low season as there are not many other tourists it is sometimes hard to work out which way is the official route.

Last part of the treasury view point trail – path is not very well marked

1315: Finally, we arrive at the view point. There is a Bedouin tent over the best vantage point and the owner is selling tea/coffee and fresh juices. We decided to treat ourselves to a Bedouin whiskey (i.e. Black tea with mint) and enjoy the view of the Treasury from above. Without a doubt this is my favourite part of the visit to Petra. From here you can see the detailed carving of the treasury from the top, as well as being able to take in the surroundings.

The price at the end – the Treasury from above

For the 2JD we not only get the tea, the gentleman who runs the cafe takes photos for us (he knows the best angles to photograph the Treasury), tells us about the 8 cats that live there in the tent with him.

A few of the tent residents

1345: We start to head back down. Climb down is comparatively easy, if a bit cold.

1435: Back at the Amphitheatre. My legs are tired, but still seems to have enough energy and as it is still mid afternoon, two of us from the group decide to attempt to hike upto the High Place of Sacrifice.  This turns out to be another steep hike, with many flights of stairs and not many flat walks.

1515: Arrive at high place of sacrifice. This is one of the highest locations in Petra at the top of the Jebel Madbah mountain. There is a rectangular platform here and a round sacrificial table. It is though that animal sacrifices were made to Nabatean gods here.

The High Place of Sacrifice
Stone table at the High Place of Sacrifice

There are also great views across Petra from here. I was keen to see this upclose as it is mentioned in the Agatha Christie novel “Appointment With Death” , where the murder takes place in Petra.

Obelisks near High Place of Sacrifice
More view of Petra

1520: Head back down. In hindsight, the High place of sacrifice was not worth the energy it took to get there. It would have been better to use the time and energy to either take a closer look at the Temple and the Royal Tombs ruins or visit the museum. 

1545: Arrive back at the Amphitheatre and start heading back to the entrance. I have used up all my reserves of energy and the walk back is extra hard compared to yesterday (I finally understand the meaning of the phrase “feet like lead”). I also understand why many tourists are happy to pay 15 JD for a ride on the electric buggy back to the entrance.

1630: At the Petra Museum. Entrance to the museum is free. Museum is home to a number of artefacts found in Petra and there are many videos that tell you about the history. I also pop into the museum shop for the obligatory sourvernir mug.

Petra Museum

1700: Leave Petra. My phone tells me I have clocked up 35,000 steps today, which is a personal best for me.

On the whole it was a great day, and I was able to explore one of my bucket list destinations to my heart’s content. Are there things I would do differently or would do again? Definitely. Find out on an upcoming blog about tips for visiting Petra.

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