We spent three full days exploring the Petra Archaeological Park and each morning, we followed the same, and only route in, which was past The Treasury. It was a tough ask to look at it twice a day, but we managed!
On our first day at Petra, we set off for an early 6.30am start to beat the crowds. From the entrance of the park to the start of the Siq (canyon), it was about an 800 metre walk. It was a gradual downhill slope; something that I hadn’t noticed until I was walking back up at the end of a long, hot day and it felt more than gradual!
This path is known as Bab as-siq (Gateway to the Siq), and the first rock carvings we came to were the large Djinn Blocks. They were built by the ancient Nabataeans in the first century AD, and while their purpose remains unknown, they do make an impressive statement.
A little further ahead on the left hand side, was the Obelisk Tomb and Bab el-siq Triclinium (funerary dining hall) 25 -75 AD.
The Siq is not technically a canyon, (carved out by water), but rather it was split apart by a tectonic force. The towering height of the walls vary, with some areas reaching up to 200 metres tall. It was an amazing snake winding trail, with the narrowest sections being about 2 meters wide.
It was transfixing to walk through with the colours of the rocks ever-changing, from pinks and reds, through to beautiful rich caramels with beige hues. The latter colours reminded me of caramel swirl ice-cream and I found myself being quite mesmerised and licking my lips!
The Nabataeans were masters of water collection, and still visible are the channels they carved through the Siq to bring water into Petra.
The water channels were originally covered in terracotta; a few sections of this remain.
There was actually quite a lot to look at as we walked though the siq, with carving and niches on either side. This camel caravan relief caught my eye. Although greatly eroded, you can get an idea from the feet and lower bodies that it must have once been an impressive piece of artwork.
As we weaved through each bend of the Siq, the anticipation of seeing The Treasury was building. After what seemed like an endless teasing canyon, there it was…
This was my first peak of the Treasury, and my eyes welled with tears from sheer delight! I felt like an excited child on Christmas morning, and I started running! I ran out of the siq and into the opening to view the majestic, herculean sight before me!
Wow! Wow! Wow! Sincerely spectacular! To put the scale into perspective, look for the cleaner seated on the right hand-side.
The Treasury or Al-Khazna in Arabic, is believed to be the mausoleum of King Aretas IV (9BC – 40AD). We were not allowed to enter, but inside it features one large chamber with smaller rooms opening off it; all of which are now empty.
At the base of The Treasury, we looked down through a grill to view where recent excavations have revealed the original Nabataen road level and rock cut tombs; about 6 meters down. While I familiar with The Treasury, I had no idea that it had been carved above an older line of tombs; that was a big surprise to me!
I don’t think we quite pulled it off; we should have jumped on horses!