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The perfect blend
My trip to the great ancient city of Petra was a part of a recent solo trip to two magnificent countries, Egypt and Jordan. While I fell in love with...
My trip to the great ancient city of Petra was a part of a recent solo trip to two magnificent countries, Egypt and Jordan. While I fell in love with Egypt's opulent culture and rich history, bustling Cairo, the breathtaking beauty of Nile, mysterious tombs and temples, and the 'ever so' enchanting Pyramids, I found that Jordan has something that makes a trip to this country one of the finest of Middle East experiences.
After an unforgettable six days in Egypt, I arrived in Amman, the capital of Jordan. This amazing city perfectly blends its modern spirit with the mysterious ancient ruins scattered over the city's twenty hills. Once you get to know the city, you'll fall head over heels with its culture, art, and history.
But the highlight of my trip to Jordan was visiting Petra: A stunning city carved from blushing pink sandstone in the high desert of Jordan some 2,000 years ago. It is a beautiful city of hand-hewn caves, temples, and tombs, that tells the tale of a lost civilization.
I spent my first day in Amman exploring the gems of the city like the famous Rainbow Street, a shopping hub of the city. The street belongs to the historic area of Jabal Amman and it is conveniently located close to the center of Amman downtown. You can spend an entire day hopping from cafes to shops, restaurants to rooftop bars surrounding the Rainbow Street.
After finding perfect travel gifts for the loved ones back home, I roamed around this charming district's shops in search of original pieces of clothes and jewellery to treat myself. While in the city do not forget to try the amazing coffee, creamy hummus and fattoush salad that the city has to offer.
I also explored the city's highlights and remarkable architecture such as the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic-era ruins of the Amman Citadel, the city's mosques and churches, downtown souks, ancient historical quarters of Jabal Al-Webdeih, and Rainbow Street (Jabal Amman).
The highlight of the day was the Roman Amphitheatre, which dates back from the 2nd century BC, when the city was known as Philadelphia. A 6,000-seater, with about 100 steps to the top, where hoi polloi once took in the show, the Amphitheatre is carved into a hillside and it is one of Amman's top landmarks.
While in Amman, one needs to visit the ruins of Jerash, Jordan's largest Roman site and one of the main tourist attractions. Also known as the 'Pompeii of the East', Jerash will welcome you with its colossal ceremonial gates and preserved temples, public squares, fountains, theatres, and colonnaded avenues.
And then I headed to Petra, the Ancient City that rests half-hidden in the wasteland of southern Jordan. The Ancient City of Petra is one of the world's most cherished UNESCO Heritage Sites and one of the New Seven Wonders of The World. It was a dream to witness the remarkable architecture of Petra with my own eyes!
Although discovered in 1812, the enigmatic sandstone city of Petra was built in the 3rd century BC by the nomadic Bedouin tribe of Nabateans who carved palaces, temples, and other buildings from the stone cliffs. It was the most prominent city of the Nabateans, linking camel caravans between the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas, from Egypt to Syria and beyond to Greece.
As most of the travellers will narrate, no matter how much you have heard about the beauty of the place, no matter how much you have read about it, nothing really prepares you for the moment when you touch down the city through 1.2-kilometer long narrow canyon bordered by 80 meter-high spectacular cliffs on both sides. That experience when you get that first glimpse of 'The Treasury' from a narrow opening of the canyon is indescribable!
This city will fascinate you with its beauty and uniqueness. I have been to many spectacular cities in the world, but I have never seen anything similar before. The historic site of Petra is huge, so be prepared for lots of walking. Also, make sure to wear a pair of comfortable shoes, protect your skin with sunscreen and carry a lot of water.
The glorious complexes in the city include Roman-style theatres, rock-cut tombs, colonnaded avenues, sacrificial altars, and the Treasury. Undoubtedly the main site in Petra is the Treasury, or Al Khazneh, which has the most magnificent façade in Petra.
No picture can do justice to the beauty of this ancient temple. It is almost 40 meters high and beautifully decorated in Corinthian style. Other notable sites in Petra include its mile long, narrow Siq valley, the Theatre, the Royal Tombs, the Monastery, and the High Place of Sacrifice. If you hike to this place, you'll have an opportunity to enjoy the view of Petra's amazing sandstone landscape turning into all shades of orange, yellow, and red as dusk sets over the desert.
Do not leave Jordan without visiting the protected desert reserve of Wadi Rum, located within a two-hour drive from Petra. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, the desert is famous for its stunning natural arches and fairylike red-pink sands.
Believe me, there is no better place to enjoy the magical dance of various stunning colors in the sunset than Wadi Rum Desert. And from the highest peak of Jabal Umm ad Dami (6,000 feet), you can see the Red Sea. And when you are in Wadi rum, do not miss spending the night in a camp just in middle of the dessert for the awe-inspiring sunset. It is like staying in some other universe, trust me.
And if time permits you try to visit the only coastal city in Jordan – Aqaba which is sitting on the north-eastern tip of the Red Sea and is surrounded by marvellous mountains and desert. Another exceptional experience I had on the last day that I would never ever forget is floating in the Dead Sea: it's so serene and beautiful! It was my dream to float and read a book in the Dead Sea someday and I am glad to have it fulfilled! One should definitely experience this in their lifetime.
I have been to almost 25 countries, but Jordan is truly is one of the most captivating and wondrous destinations I've ever had the privilege to travel to.