Revisiting The Still Magnificent Petra, Jordan in 1996

That stupifying Treasury (Al-Khazneh) is the first sight before your eyes after coming through the 1.5 km/1 mile-long Siq and is considered Petra’s most magnificent sight. …View image… The Treasury is carved out of solid rock and stands over 40m/131′ high. It isn’t really a “Treasury” but is generally believed to be a temple or royal tomb. However, the Bedouins believed that pirates hid ancient treasures in the giant stone urn which stands in the center of the second level and would fire guns at it, trying to break the urn to release the treasure. Therefore, the name…”Treasury”…. You can still see the bullet holes..

When you’ve finished taking a zillion photos from every conceivable angle, walk on to visit the other major highlights inside Petra but a little information first…

You can still rent a horse at the Visitors Center or walk in. …View image… (Our choice the second time.) The Center will also issue a special permit allowing the elderly and/or handicapped to ride in a horse-drawn carriage into Petra. Where there were only horses to ride the first time, there is now a huge corral with camels and donkeys for hire inside the site. They both come with handlers and take designated routes. TIP: Save your camel money for something else. Uncomfortable to ride for an entire morning. All that camel lowering to the ground to dismount, and remount takes valuable time. Walk.

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camels for rent at Petra, Jordan

The Theater has to be the most imposing sight after the Treasury, constructed in the early 1st century AD by the Nabateans. It was later enlarged by the Romans after they annexed the Nabatean Kingdom in 106 AD. This massive theater, at the foot of en-Nejr Mountain, could hold 3,000 people. It was actually cut into the hillside and several of the tombs during construction…View image

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Sheila in the Theater audience, Petra, Jordan

Theater viewed from the opposite side of Petra, Jordan

My, how things had changed from 1989 to 1996. From just a few visitors, the “bus parking lot” was packed with upwards of 50+ tour buses. Thousands of tourists and new hotels all over the place and I can only imagine what changes have taken place since 1996. What price progress.

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Petra, Jordan crowds in 1996

The Nabateans ability to control the water supply led to the rise of this desert city by creating an artificial oasis. With towering rocks enclosing Petra, it was a natural fortress.

Petra map

There are obelisks, temples and colonnaded streets, tombs galore – finished and unfinished – and even a 12th century Crusader fortress on the summit of Al-Habees. Caves everywhere, places to climb for additional views of the area and let’s not forget the scrumptious pinky colors… It’s no wonder there are thousands of visitors. Can you blame them?

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Petra tombs and temples, Jordan
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