The Second Indiana Jones – Petra, Jordan

I know that I have a lot of readers screaming at me right now. They are all looking at this photo and they know that this image comes from the third movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yet, I titled this post, the SECOND Indiana Jones. You are wondering if I know the difference, and by the mere fact that I acknowledged the difference in this post, I obviously must know that Petra is part of the better installment in the series, and I should not have referenced one of the lesser adventures as the title of my post.

To those people, I must acknowledge your movie brilliance, and at the same time, hope that you have stuck with me so far, so that I may defend my choice of title for this post. For those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you will know that this is the second time that one of my adventures has made me feel like I am a part of an Indiana Jones adventure. The first one took place out side of Hua Hin, Thailand as I hiked to the Phraya Nakhon Cave. My visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra, in Jordan, would be the second time that I have had this feeling. This is where the title of this blog post comes from. I hope that clears up any confusion you may have experienced from reading the title, and I also hope that you continue to read to learn more about this exciting place.

Though there are many exciting places to visit in Jordan, Petra is the one that the country promotes the most, and the one that tourists make sure that they see while out here. It had remained hidden for many centuries and it wasn’t until 1812 when Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt let the rest of the world know about it. He claims that he discovered it, but considering many people still lived in the buildings hollowed out from the mountainside, and he was shown where it was from a Bedouin, it is hard to say that it really needed discovering. Soon afterwards, people would come to see the site, and eventually those people were removed so it could become the tourist destination it is today.

The site itself sprawls all over the hills in the southern part of Jordan. There are some trails that have been created from the visitor center that allows for easy access to some of the more impressive locations, and most people who visit stick to these trails. For people that struggle with hiking, donkeys and camels can be rented and there are even options for select people that they can take a golf cart, but that will only take people to the Treasury, the location that was used for the Indiana Jones movie.

There are many other smaller hikes that will take people to the lesser visited locations, but it is recommended that you hire a guide to take you to these place. The mountains out there can be deceiving and it is easy to get lost. Plus, there are so many places where things are hidden, so it is helpful to have that person that knows what to look for so you can find those hidden little gems.

The two major sites at Petra are the Treasury and the Monastery. The Treasury is pretty crowded because it is the easiest to get to. It is about a kilometer hike all down hill from the visitor center through an idyllic canyon called the Siq. I would recommend going early in the morning because it got really crowded in the afternoon, and it made it hard to navigate through the people. The Monastery is not as crowded but takes a little more effort to get to. It is an uphill hike on a series of stairs that have sometimes been worn away by heavy rains. It is hard to tell how many steps you have to take to get there because they are not always organized, but the rule of thumb is somewhere between 850 and 900. Both locations are awe-inspiring, and are worth the trip, but it can get cold up at the Monastery, especially in the months of fall and spring, so I would recommend taking layers of clothes.

There are many other places to view along the way including the Royal Tombs and the Great Temple. Some of these locations had been lost to the desert and are only being uncovered at this time. Archeologists from Brown University were at the site and discovered the Great Temple buried underneath the sand. They have been spending the couple of decades slowly digging it out and restoring it to its original glory. There are a couple of amazing corridors that you can walk down, and there is a small theatre placed right in the middle, but the most impressive part of this location is the rows of columns that are on either side of what would have been the huge foyer.

There is also the large amphitheater in what would have been the center of this hidden city. It made me wonder what the bustling atmosphere of this place would have once been like as people made their way up and down its various streets. They would have been covered with merchants selling their wares, and to an extent they still are, except now they are different variations of the same collection of souvenirs. The amphitheater is also quiet now, as in the past, I am sure that it would be filled with great speeches, and amazing performances that would be overheard by everybody that happened to pass by.

To travel to Petra is to travel back in time to a place and a culture that could have easily been swept under the stiff wind of the Jordanian desert. It truly feels like you are an archeologist that has come to find s great treasure among its many buildings. It is an adventure, and I can see why George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg chose it for their third installment of the storied franchise. If the theme song isn’t playing in your head as soon as you step foot on the dusty paths, it will soon play because there are always people singing it or humming it, so everybody else can join in. It makes you feel like you are a part of the movie, but in the end you marvel that there is so much more to it than what little they showed in that full length feature.

Petra should be on the top of everybody’s bucket list. It is an amazing place to visit, but not enough people know about it to add it to the many places that they need to travel to before they die. I am glad that I have added it to the places I have been, and I doubt that I will quickly forget its grandeur. Considering I am also currently living in Jordan, it is a place that I will go back to. I covered the more touristy part of the site, and I want to go back to travel the less explored areas. It makes it one of those places that you will always be happy to go back to, and I hope you have the opportunity to make it out there at least once.

Roman Ruins in Jordan

Just like moving to any country or new location there have been a lot of adjustments to make and a lot of surprises, but I think the biggest surprises I have seen have been the Roman ruins that are all over the place throughout Jordan. I know logically thinking about it now, it makes sense. The presence of the Romans was always in the background in the Bible, and historically, they control this part of the world for a long time in history, so of course, their mark should be all over the place. But it is one of those things that did not hit me as being a part of my life now until I actually lived among those ruins for a couple of months.

I know that I have not hit the most important of these ruin in Petra, and I have plans on visiting that in April, but that does not mean that I haven’t seen some more of the impressive sights. There are some that jump right out from the first moments that you arrive in Amman, and smaller ruins that you have to travel to by the Sea of Galilee, and a truly impressive collection that creates its own city in Jerash. Each of them have their own flavor, but each is also a great way to spend a day in you make it out to Jordan.

The easiest of these ruins to access is in the heart of Amman. You can easily get to them with a thirty minute cab ride from the airport, or even better, with a ten to fifteen minute ride from most hotels in central Amman. They are really hard to miss. From many vantage points from this hilly city, they can be seen if you just look down. Look for the amphitheater in the heart of the city, and sitting right above that is a collection of ruins that overlooks this iconic location. Both sights are worth visiting, but they have separate entrance fees, so beware. There is a pass that can be bought when first arriving in Jordan that will reduce the cost a bit, but it will only allow you into a limited amount of sights in the country. Make sure to save one of those for Petra because that will be one that you really will want to see, but the two in Amman are also nice additions.

The other sight that I would suggest that you visit is only a short hour drive north of Amman. It is in the heart of the city of Jerash. This city got its start many centuries ago from these ruins and there are some impressive sights to see within the grounds. There are two smaller amphitheaters than the one that can be seen in Amman, but they are nestled on an old Roman road that gives them a more authentic feel. There is a long field that once was used for charioteer races with the stands still intact on one side of the field. There are old temples dedicated to ancient Roman gods even though they still used the Greek names. And there is a huge circular courtyard that was once was used as the gathering place for all who lived there, and those who had travelled many miles to get there.

There are many other places where the sights of Roman ruins can be found in Jordan. I have just shared my few favorite ones that I have witnessed so far after living here for a few months. It makes Jordan one of those places that should be on everybody itinerary for world travel, and it surprises me how few people want to make the trip to this little corner of the world.

But if you do make it out here, you will not be disappointed by what you will find. Jordan is a place rich in history and culture. The people are warm and friendly, and not enough people know about its spectacular views making it the prefect vacation destination for those in the know.