by Betty Bowersox
February 21, 2014

Sheila and Betty get the prize for walking the farthest in Petra! But I’m getting ahead of things…. first we were treated to made-to-order omelets for breakfast plus a breakfast buffet that was at least 40-feet long.  So after that, we needed the 4K stroll through the cliffs of Petra, which took us about 3.5 hours with the stops for historical explanations and hundreds (or so) of pictures.

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Touring Petra (photo by Todd McDowell)

The ancient Nabataeans, who existed from about 150 BC to the 8th century, were amazing engineers who cleverly devised small water canals along the entry siq (like a ravine) to carry rain water for drinking and irrigation to the main town. It was a capital city of the Nabataeans and was wealthy due to their prosperous trading with traveling caravans. Through cleverly defending the entry to their land, and paying off the Romans to leave them alone, they maintained their Bedouin style of living.

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Petra – coming out of Siq and seeing the Treasury for the first time (photo by Todd McDowell)

But the clever Romans forced the trade routes to shift away from Petra, and in the 2nd century the town was annexed by Romans. So all along the route there are amazing, facade carvings of buildings in the beautifully color-striated limestone cliff walls that marked the burial sites of wealthy and royal Nabataeans, and smaller but still impressive carvings of important gods, people, and animals. And lots of holes into caves where families lived. There was also a theater that was carved into the rock that could hold  about 3,000 people.  Once past the theater the Roman influence could be seen, not only with the style of roads, but with some of the basilica-like structures. Ooh- ahh times a hundred!!  But when we hit the restaurant for lunch, we were all glad to sit, rest, and get nourishment.

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The Nabataean theater, carved into stone.

After lunch, Fr. Todd, Sonja, Becky and Marty decided they’d had enough exercise and took carriage rides back to the entrance of the Park.  Those 500 steps (we thought) up to the ‘Monastery’ wall facade carving just seemed to beckon to Sheila and Betty, so they heeded the call and headed up the steps.  And up.  And up. Watching out for the donkey dung and moving aside when human-burdened burros shared the steps with us.  If we had known ahead of time that there were more than 800 hand-hewn stone steps to get to the top – well, you could say that ignorance is bliss.  Getting to see the carving up close and the view from the top of the mount made it all worthwhile, and the steps going down went much quicker. But then the 4K trip back through Petra to get to the hotel – they took horses for the last 700 meters, which was quite welcome.

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Betty and Sheila at the Monastery (in background) with 800 steps completed, and just 800 more to go.

For those that took the very bumpy cart ride back, Fr. Todd spent the afternoon trying to gain the upper hand with his computer and its temperamental behavior when trying to send pictures for the blog, and the ladies went and checked out the shops in town.  We have continued our practice of Compline after dinner.  Tonight we’ll crash immediately afterward since we have to leave Petra at 7:30 (ugh!).  Our time in Jordan grows shorter. . .

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The Treasury at Petra (photo by Todd McDowell)

 

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Surprised faces upon seeing the Treasury for first time (photo by Todd McDowell)

 

Christian Church at Petra_opt

After the Nabataeans became Christian in AD 447, they consecrecrated this as their first church. (photo by Todd McDowell)

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Camel ride, anyone?

Click here to view the entire Grace in the Holy Land photo gallery.

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