When visiting the archaeological wonder of Petra, right in the heart of Jordan, it is impossible to not feel a bit like Indiana Jones. In fact, even before going through the entrance gates, I was tempted to buy a “genuine” Indiana hat from the Indiana Jones Gift Shop, right on Petra’s doorstep.
To reach the historical city of Petra, all visitors must walk through a long, narrow gorge called al-Siq, which builds the anticipation and drama of the approach. The gaping pink hued chasm looms over visitors, emphasising the natural beauty of the area. As each footstep took me closer to the end of the one kilometre gorge, the excitement was building all around; some tourists walk slowly to eke out the process, other break into a run. I walked slowly, my camera snapping away at every rock, every turn, both not wanting the walk to end and wanting the reach my famous destination all at the same time. And that destination is the Treasury, or Al Khazneh.
The Treasury is Petra’s most famous, and most impressive, building. Carved directly into the sandstone rock face, it is truly an archaeological and architectural wonder. Even the most blasé travellers would find it hard to remain unimpressed by this phenomenal building. Not to mention that its location at the very end of al-Siq means that the beauty of the building is only increased by the dramatic first glimpse you catch of it, through a dark split in the sandstone, just like Indiana himself.
After swooning over the dramatic architecture of the Treasury for longer than is probably polite, there is so much more also on offer in Petra. The city gradually unfolds, boasting more and more amazing buildings, tombs and temples built into the sheet sandstone rock faces. A climb of (only!) 600 or so steps took me up to the Monastery, or Ad Deir, a monumental building measuring 50 metres wide by 45 metres high, which is open for tourist to climb in, on and around at their leisure. Lookout points nearby give stunning views over the valleys and cliffs which make up this historical marvel. There are tombs upon tombs, towers and temples, and several sacrificial altars with breathtaking views of the city.
At the end of a long day exploring what felt like every nook and cranny of Petra, I headed back to al-Siq to make my way out of the historical city. It was as the archaeological site was closing down that I experienced the biggest rush of the day: a chance to take my photo at the Treasury with absolutely no other tourists around. Just me, this amazing building, and my excellent humming of the Indiana Jones theme song. Don’t call me Junior indeed!