Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 76, Petra, Jordan

We simply loved the "stone monuments " of Egypt, so now lets get on our camels and ride to Petra in Jordan....

Hey Feroz, now you know why you didn't get the chance to go diving in Sharm el Sheikh, it was because we were coming here, to see one of the 7 New Wonders of the world!

Let's go down the down the narrow 1.5 kilometer-long al-Siq, the main entrance to the ancient city of Petra.

The Siq is a natural geological fault produced by tectonic forces and worn smooth by water erosion.....kind of reminds one of the walls of Hindu Canyon in the Grand Canyon National Park!
The walls that enclose the Siq stand between 91-182 meters (300-600 feet) in height...and it gets really narrow in some narrow as 3m!

As we ride along.....the place is kind of unimpressive....well, we have been around the world and seen so this is really nothing to write home about.....and then suddenly ....there it is......... the Treasury (Arabic: al-Khazneh), the most magnificent of Petra's sights!

One of the most elegant remains of the ancient world, the Treasury is carved out of solid rock and stands over 40 meters high. WOW!

The Treasury was probably constructed in the 1st century BC. As its design has no precedent in Petra, it is thought that it was carved by the Nabataeans.

The purpose of the Treasury remains something of a mystery. One thing that is fairly certain, however, is that it was not a treasury.
In reality, the Treasury is generally believed to be a temple or a royal tomb, but neither conclusion is certain.

The tomb/temple got its popular name from the Bedouin belief that pirates hid ancient pharoanic treasures in the tholos (giant stone urn) which stands in the center of the second level.

In an attempt to release the treasure, Bedouins periodically fired guns at it — look, there are the bullet holes still clearly visible on the urn!!

When the first Western visitors arrived at Petra in the 19th century, a stream ran from Siq and across the plaza. The stream has since been diverted and the plaza leveled for the sake of tourists.
Oh, wow, there is a postcard kiosk here !!!!! Yippeeee, heaven for postcrossers!!!

Oh, wow guys, just look at the siq from here...that's the passage we just rode through!

The Treasury's façade has two levels, decorated with columns, classical rooflines and badly weathered sculptures. Perched atop the façade is an eagle, a Nabataean (and Greek) male deity symbol.

The central figure on the upper level tholos may be the fertility goddess of Petra, El-Uzza (associated to the Egyptian goddess Isis). The vertical footholds on either side may have been made to aid the sculptors.

The portal on the bottom level is reached by small flight of steps, and is flanked by mounted figures believed to be Castor and Pollux, sons of Zeus.

Inside, a colossal doorway dominates the outer court and leads to an inner chamber of 12 square meters. At the back of the chamber is a sanctuary with an ablution basin (for ritual washing), suggesting that the Treasury was a temple or some other kind of holy place. The chamber can no longer be entered, but it is possible to look in from the doorway.

I am absolutely overwhelmed by this breathtaking UNESCO world heritage site........aren't you?

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