Oh Petra. Thou wonder of the ancient times. We at least wondered at you today. Starting off our day early was great. It was cool and we were all pretty excited and full of energy. We also beat most of the tourists since we were out so soon which was way better for pictures. 🙂 The bedouin were preparing for their day though. Lots of horses to ride and even little covered carts to bump along in.
The Natateans, who built a lot of this city, also carved a water channel into the side of the Siq all the way down into town. It was brilliant construction and was a lifeline of the city. It would have been covered all the way down and at one place we could see the remains of a camel with man leading it carved into the outside of where the water would had run. It also makes me wonder what else would have been here that just melted away in the erosion of the sandstone. The colors of the stone layers were breathtaking and along with the sharp cliff edges against the bright azure sky this felt like it was going to be an amazing day.
We popped out the other end into a large open area in front of a huge elaborate tomb carved into the side of a cliff. The enormity of the carving and the detail put into it is astounding. There was a people group that thought some king had hidden treasure in the huge urn carved into the very top of the structure and they wanted to get it down. So they peppered the urn with bullets and ended up demolishing most of it and sadly the efforts produced no treasure but it was named The Treasury after that. If you looked only at the bottom section of this building, the carving was a lot like a Roman era temple but when you looked at the top part it seemed very Greek, so it seems these influences had reached their fingers far to the South.
We headed on up to the monastery. Up and up and up! Up the ancient stairs, through the sand where my hiking sandals got filled with grit and stones, on past the coffee shop and the restaurant. We smiled at the bedouins hawking their wares, ‘One Dinar, just one dinar for beautiful necklace!’ But our answer was always, Lo Shukran (no thank you). After the achievement of reaching our goal, over 900 stairs UP, all the sweating, huffing and puffing we had done was totally worth it. There at the top was the ornately carved monastery. Yes, right into the side of the cliff. But for as majestic as it looks outside, there’s only one big room inside. No carvings or decoration, just a big cave. It was fun to play around in and take crazy pictures but the best part was climbing up to the lookout point and looking out over the vast sea of mountain peaks. The mountain colors were varied and beautiful as we looked out over the Rift Valley and into Israel. It completely took my breath away and reminded me how small I am and what amazing things my God can do. His love for beauty and joy in allowing us to enjoy it is overwhelming.
The royal tombs were our next stop. The carvings outside are magnificent but the colors and designs of the rock in the walls and ceiling inside are absolutely marvelous. It’s like an artist took his palette and gently swirled all the paint into a giant mirage of colors. Man can create amazing buildings, carve magnificent pillars and build luxurious towns but only our God can place layers of color in cliffs and make panoramas so widespread that even the unbeliever is astounded. After making our way back down and purchasing some beautiful Petra sand art from a bedouin we hurried back toward the Siq and our hotel. We dodged floods of tour groups, donkeys and anxious peddlers and were very, very thankful that we were there before all of the crowds.
We ended our day at Bozrah in Edom’s territory. It is surrounded by deep valleys which made it a natural stronghold and was very near the Feinen wadi where there were large copper mining industries. But other than that the resources for Edom were very limited, which made them reach out and grasp at trade and a connection to the whole of society. We get the feeling from references in scripture that the Edomites were a regal, proud people who strong trade connections with Phoenicia and southern trade but Obadiah said, the pride of their hearts deceived them.