We arrived at Petra at 6am. The ticked office doesn’t open until 7am, but I had done my research and discovered that if you buy your ticket the night before, you can enter at 6am before anyone else. As we wandered through the long and winding Siq (the mile long canyon that leads to the main entrance of the ancient city), we were pleased to have the place to ourselves.
At the end of the Siq is the Treasury – the most beautiful building in Petra and the one made famous in the movie Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Relishing the opportunity to photograph this building without the camels and tourists that crowded the space the night before, I pulled out my camera. The display flashed back at me – my battery was dead.
Not to worry, I thought. My backup battery was safely stored in my bag. I quickly replaced the dead battery, feeling like the consummate professional photographer that I am. That is, until I saw the display flashing back at me once again – this battery was also dead.
My heart sank. I fiddled with the camera a bit, but there was nothing to be done. I had the entire ancient city of Petra nearly to myself and no camera batteries.
It was heartbreaking to say the least. What kept it from being tragic was that we had visited Petra the night before, and I’d been able to take some photos of many of the key areas then. And, of course, I still got to enjoy Petra in the early morning stillness in the moment. But that can be little consolation to photographers – we like documentation.
All of these photos were taken the evening before as we wandered around the site before sunset. While I think I still got some nice photos, there is so much more I wanted/planned to photograph during our morning visit.
The photos above are of the walk to get to the Siq, which is about a half mile in itself. Then begins the beautiful mile long canyon, with its wind swept walls. The views of the Treasury from the Siq are a welcome sight after the long walk.From the shot on the right you can see just how deep into the rock this building is carved – and that’s after the wind erosion that has no doubt taken place over the centuries.Local people believed this building to be where the treasure was kept, hence the name. The modern theory is that it was actually a tomb.Hello!
In all fairness, even at the height of the day there weren’t too many tourists visiting Petra (though there are always camels.) A combination of off season and the troubles in Syria kept tourism low while we were visiting. Good for us, bad for Jordan.
The main buildings get all of the attention, but there are dozens of caves like this all along the canyon. The caves are quite deep, and probably had much more impressive facades centuries ago (before wind and earthquake damage.) Petra was a large and thriving city in its heyday, to be sure.You can climb up to this site, which locals believed was a courthouse and prison, but historians believe was a tomb. Are we sure that ancient people put so much effort into building tombs? I think maybe modern day archeologists are just a little obsessed with labeling things as tombs.
The ruins just keep going on. Unfortunately, this was where we stopped on the first day, so I don’t have any photos of the stuff that lies in that valley beyond.Here’s John, enjoying the view of the basin. I’m still lamenting the number of views I didn’t get to photograph – including views from our wonderful hike to the top of the ruins, the Roman portion of the city including the Temple of Petra, and many facades we didn’t even visit on that first night. There is so much to see at this site, it took us several hours over two days and we didn’t even see it all.
We’ve seen a lot of ancient ruins this year, but Petra easily slid into the number one slot in the rankings (finally displacing Machu Picchu, which has been at the top for months.) It’s so much larger than I imagined, and so very unique. The last big site we’re visiting this year will be the Pyramids of Giza, coming up shortly. But before we move on to Egypt, there is still much more to see in Jordan.