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The Rose Red City of Petra

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As is often the case with travel expectations, there’s so much more to a site than what we can see in the confines of a screen or read in black and white letters on a page. Often the real place is a shock of depth, colors and aromas, and the way all our senses are engaged eventually blows past the limits of our own imaginations.

Petra makes just about every influential travel list – top places to see before you die, wonder of the world and it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. Most aptly named, Petra is Greek for “rock,” and this capital of the Nabateans is carved into the surrounding desert cliffs and sandstone mountains. A trading center and formidable fortress accessible now by a narrow gorge called the Siq, Petra was a bustling city around the 6th century BC, but forgotten by the Western world until rediscovery in 1812.

There are a variety of ways to enter the city, and the Nabateans made sure none were easy. The walls of the Siq reach up to 650 feet high, wrapping you in rose and rust rock striations for about 20 minutes until you spill out at the end of the mile-long path to take in the first peek of the imposing Treasury.

Jordan’s compact size makes it easy to day trip from main cities to most of the top destinations, but Petra is one of those spots you want to give ample, adequate time to explore. Even one whole day and night was not enough to see all I could’ve seen, so factor in plenty of time.

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