The Monastery at Petra is huge; it is even bigger than The Treasury! It stands at 45 metres tall and it is 50 metres wide! To put the size into perspective, in the above photograph, you can see a couple of people sitting on rocks near the entrance.
After consulting our guide book, we could see that the hike to The Monastery would take us at least a couple of hours, so we set off in the cool of the morning.
We started off dressed in our wide brimmed Aussie hats from home, however about half way up, we got talking to a delightful Bedouin lady who told us we needed head scarves. “Did we need head scarves?”
Apparently we did, or at least she convinced us we did, and so we continued on dressed like this…
My head scarf, or Keffiyeh, features the colours of a local Bedouin tribe and my husband’s scarf, red & white, are the traditional colours that the Jordanian men wear.
The route to The Monastery is up hill all the way, with lots of carved steps of various heights and tread depths.
A moderate degree of fitness is required with sun cream a must, as is water. There is no need to laden your day pack with water though, as there are ample Bedouin tents along the way offering water at an affordable, JD1 a bottle.
Local Bedouins earn a few JD offering donkey rides up, but I am not sure that I am a fan of this service as it seems like hard work for the little guys.
After trekking up for a couple of hours, we were certainly rewarded with a spectacular sight!
The Monastery was carved in the 3rd century BC by the Nabataeans and is thought to have originally been a tomb. Its current name comes from the Byzantine era when it was believed to have been used as a church.
The left hand side rock cut.
The area at the front of The Monastery has been levelled and evidence suggests that a huge colonnade once stood here.
The right hand side rock cut.
My photos do not do justice to the beautiful array of colours that run and swirl through the rocks!
On the inside of the Monastery there is a single chamber; entry to tourists is not permitted. I stood on my tippy toes for this peek inside! Again, my photos do not convey the actual stunning beauty of the sandstone colours.
Directly opposite The Monastery is a Bedouin tea house, and then up behind the tea house, there are two lookouts. These are both worth the extra climb up as they offer views back across Petra, and in the other direction, sweeping views out to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
A view of The Monastery from the first look out.
How amazing is that? I bet you didn’t realise how vast and humongous the Petra mountains were!
The journey back down from The Monastery was certainly easier than the climb up! On our return trip, we meet the sister of the lady who sold us our head scarves, Alia.
Alia invited us to join her in the shade of her tent for tea; peppermint tea. It was heavily sugared and so deliciously sweet, that we ended up staying for two cups!