Israel 2010- Day 20- Petra, Jordan (Part Two)

This is the second half of yesterday’s article on my day trip to Petra, Jordan.

From the Colosseum, I went past the souvenir shops and climb up the hill to the building known as The Urn Tomb. It was was easy to see the opulence bestowed on this building, even though it was in ruins.
Before climbing up to the Urn Tomb, I took the above picture, which looks back toward the canyon that contains the Treasury building. If I’d had more time, I would have climb the paths that up to the top of the cliffs. There are other less explored ruins up there, as well as amazing views over Petra. Not having the time to climb these was my biggest disappointment at Petra.

On the left side of the above picture, you can see one of the previously mentioned souvenir stands that sold trinkets, crafts and water. It was impossible for me to imagine America’s National Park Service allowing such establishments to pop up in the ruins of say, Mesa Verde for example. It was just another reminder of how far away from home I really was.
The view from in front of The Urn Tomb helped me form a game plan on how best to use the remaining couple of hours I had left at the site.
I followed the path around the side of the cliff and got a view of more of the buildings. On the picture above, from left to right, are The Palace Tomb, The Corinthian Tomb and The Silk Tomb.
One of Petra’s most remarkable ruins is the Byzantine Church, which sits on a hill overlooking the Colonnaded Street. Especially interesting in this building are the brilliant mosaics which line the right and left side of the building. This area of the church is covered to protect them from the elements.
The church also contains an impressive central courtyard.
The view from the hill by the Byzantine Church also gave great views over what was the central part of Roman Petra. The building pictured above is The Great Temple.
The picture above is the ruins of the Upper Market, where the common people did their shopping.
The Qasr al-Bint is one of the few free standing structures in Petra. It was originally built by the Nabateans as a temple in 30 B.C. and was changed by both the Romans and the Byzantines.

The Colonnaded Street was the grand centerpiece of Roman and Byzantine Petra. Beside the buildings shown above, the street was also the central point of commerce, as it contained the large marketplace at it’s Southern end.
The price of my tour also included a horse ride back to the visitor’s center from the entrance to the Siq. Usually, this wouldn’t be something that I would do, but it was free and I was tired, so I took the 10 minute ride.
These pictures of the late King Hussien and the current Jordanian monarch, Abdullah, were at the Petra visitor’s center, but they were also on display all over the country.

We ate dinner at a buffet restaurant in Wadi Musa. On the way out of town we passed a long caravan of vehicles heading into town for a celebration of Jordan’s Independence Day, which was the following day. I was so glad I’d decided to visit Petra on a day tour. Under my original schedule, I would have been visiting on Independence Day, which would have made traveling around the country very difficult.

The dive back to Aqaba and the Israeli border was quite scenic. To the west (the top two photos) were expansive views over the Arabian Desert and the Dead Sea. About an hour before reaching Aqaba, we passed the turn off for Wadi Rum, the landscape made famous by the film Lawrence of Arabia.
After a short drive around Aqaba, a city that was clearly becoming larger and more prosperous, we arrived at the border at around 7:45 P.M., which was cutting it close since the border closes at 8 P.M. I was exhausted from such a busy day, but satisfied with the decision to do a day trip instead of trying to navigate the country on my own. Exploring the rest of Jordan may be something that I’ll do someday while on a larger trip to the Middle East.

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