Since the summer of 2007, Petra has been considered as one of the seven wonders of the world, for many reasons. The Nabateans dug a city-sanctuary in the desert, in the huge rocks that rose up in that inhospitable land. The result is a magical city that only reveals itslef to those travelers who dare to face the sun and the Jordanian desert. The legend is such that this enclave even appears in certain films, the most famous being, perhaps, Indiana Jones.
The Wadi Rum Desert, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is a very special place for me and one that no visitor to Jordan should miss. The sand has a very handsome reddish color and the ancient cultures which resided here have left hieroglyphs and cave paintings. Lawrence of Arabia made the place famous but nowadays its an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Eco-tourism is popular here and you can sleep in areas that the local Bedouin have made habitable. I especially loved seeing the stars without any kind of light pollution. Some say you can even see Lawrence of Arabia's face in the stones. Sort of a modern hieroglyph, I guess!
This is an important archaeological site in Jordan, and the capital of the ancient Nabatean kingdom. The name Petra means rock in Greek. Petra is located in a narrow valley, east of the Arava Valley, about 80 kilometres south of the Dead Sea. "Treasure" (the monument you see in the picture) is reached after crossing a gorge between a set of monumental rocks called The Siq, which is at the end of the hike. As you can see from the photo, it was an amazing journey.
You can reach the ancient city many different ways: on foot, on horseback, or by carriage. I recommend that you go on foot, although the entrance ticket includes admission for a horse. If you go on foot, you can take pictures on the way and you will see nice touches of color. With the heat, it is rather tiring, but it´s worth it. Coming back tired, it is a good idea to use one of the other modes of transport previously mentioned.
The biggest (and almost only) attraction in the city of Madaba is the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. The merit of the church really doesn't fully belong to him, but rather to the popular mosaic map of Jerusalem. Although it is quite logical to be harmed by the passage of time, the truth is that it's still fairly well preserved and well worth the visit. It is amazing to see the map accuracy and skill with this kind of craftsmanship. A truly wonderful spot. It Is well worth a quick visit.
The Mujib Nature Reserve is at some of the lowest altitudes in the world with an amazing setting by the east coast of the Dead Sea. It is within the deep Wadi Mujib gorge, which enters the Dead Sea at 410 meters below sea level. The Reserve reaches to the Karak and Madaba mountains, reaching an altitude of 900 m above sea level. This variation in elevation of 1300 meters, combined with the constant presence of water flow from 7 tributaries throughout the year in the valley, provides Wadi Mujib with an incredible biodiversity that is still being researched. There have been more than 300 kinds of plants, 10 species of carnivores and many species of permanent and migratory birds discovered here. Some of the mountain and valley areas are hard to access and provide a safe haven for many species of cats, goats and other animals. The Mujib's sandstone cliffs are a perfect habitat for mountain goats. A lot of tourists come to the Mujib every year to cover a part of the desert, which in parts has vegetation where it is more hilly and rocky, which has a landscape that is unique with its caves and cliffs.
Undoubtedly one of the most spectacular sites in Jordan is this city of Roman origin. It is one of the best preserved in the world. It has an impressive Roman theater and the tall colums at the Temple of Zeus will make you feel small. It is interesting to note that the columns are completely skewed and may move if you push, so beware, don't lean on them!
15 km north of Petra, there is another miniature Petra, which is almost unknown to tourists. It is not as spectacular as the Great Petra but it is a short preamble thereof. You arrive there via a narrow fault called the Siq, which is small and, once you have crossed it, the facade of a monumental tomb appears, with many stays dug on either side of the narrow valley. This was formally a place to welcome camel caravans on their way to Petra. The entrance to this little Petra is free and can be reached by walking up to the Monastery of Petra or the center of Petra. I did this tour not because it requires the help of a guide, since finding the path is difficult, plus you have to have a valid entry for Petra and in Wadi Al-Barid they do not facilitate it.
Jerash, or Jarash, is the home to some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world. They have been declared a World Heritage Site and are not exploited touristically in the shadow of Petra and the Dead Sea, but they are really impressive. You can appreciate the route of the old city, the street, the Hippodrome, the city gate, temples, theaters, The Square ... all in an enviable state of preservation that greatly impresses.
King Rodrigo was the last Visigothic king of Spain, the King of Persia, King of Abyssinia, the King of India, the emperor of China. All of these Kings had one thing in common, they were all an enemy of Caliph al-Walid I. When you see the small castle, you may feel a little disappointed (I did, anyway), but when you enter, you'll be absolutely amazed to see the frescoes which are preserved inside. Quseir Amra, was built in the early eighth century, and was used as a hunting lodge and break to enjoy its hot springs. There are several rooms, all decorated with frescoes and assume that at least was painted by two different artists. The frescoes recreate everyday scenes of hunting, work in the fields and in the dome is a representation of the Zodiac. Quseir Amra is made up of three distinct areas: a courtroom that is connected to the throne room and the thermal and hydraulic system used to draw water from the well. The little red castle is a world heritage siteand is under the protection of UNESCO and is considered the most interesting Umayyad castle in Jordan.
If you go to Jerash to see the Roman ruins, you cannot miss the castle of Ajlun. It is very close to Jerash and the truth is that it is totally worth it.
The most surprising thing, beyond its strategic location high on a hill in the most fertile of all of Jordan, is how well-preserved it is and, above all, how well-kept it is, and above all, how clean and luminous it is inside. It's a place in which to spend an hour or so scouring nooks and walking among ruins, lit passageways, and admiring the views.
You can walk around Petra for hours and hours. After the Treasury and before arriving at the fork in the road that takes you to the path of the Monastery or to the tomb of Aaron, you can stop and enjoy the everyday scenes around you. This is not the typical tourist attraction. There are lots of families that live in Bedouin, nomads, ve have found their way into the caves and have made an agreement with the King of Jordan to be that way, but now things are dying down.
Jordan did not stop surprising us from the first minute we got there. First, we visited Amman, its citadel and, of course, its Roman theatre. It's the largest theatre in the East and within its walls there is an interesting museum of costumes and customs that shouldn't be missed. All the perspectives are good. You can go up and down, again and again by its high steps. It's a must-see.
Jordan has a lot of tourist sites related to the history and religion. And the Mount Nebo is surely the most famous of them along with the waters of the Jordan. They say it's from there where Moses saw the "promised land" and that goes buried there. Also the place is, then, a wealth of historical buildings that has ended up a fantastic archaeological museum with real gems of various civilizations. Today, the Basilica of the Jesuits is being rebuilt, but still worth visiting. The Basilica is great for experiencing the history and for seeing the fantastic views with the Dead Sea in the background. And, the back is now primarily desert, but back in the day, it was much more. A must see place in Jordan, barely half an hour to the Dead Sea and very close to the town of Madaba.
Remarkable for its unusually wide size, the Plaza Oval is an elliptical plaza still in perfect condition. Its dimensions are spectacular (90 x 80 meters) and it is surrounded by a wide sidewalk with an Ionic colonnade built in the 1st century AD. In the center of the plaza there are two altars and a 17th century fountain where the Flame Festival of Jerash is held in July.
A little time on the road of Petra and you will find the city of Karak. Sightseeing should be basic and exclusively to its castle. This is a building of the Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem and it is mostly unspoiled. Surprised by its vastness, as it is a visitable surface. In fact, the funnest is to walk through some of the tunnels and, of course, enjoy the sunset with a fantastic light. It offers a great view from the top of the hill.