The most visited site in Jordan is Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and perhaps best known for its cameo in Indiana Jones. I wrote briefly about the city and how, even though I expected it to amazing, it far surpassed those expectations. The first glimpse at the mystical wonder of the city though is at the entrance to this ancient site, the Siq at Petra.
The Nabatean city of Petra was a great caravan stop, and the Siq was used as the grand entrance for visitors to the Rose City. It’s easy to imagine how awe-struck new visitors must have been, you can see the same expressions of wonder on travelers’ faces today.
At its most narrow point, the Siq is no more than 3 meters wide and the natural gorge soars to almost 600 feet in some places. Everyone must pass through the Siq, and it is the first clue at the greatness that awaits. I was amazed to see ancient water pipes along the sides, designed to bring water from Wadi Musa to the citizens of Petra.
More impressive are the natural formations and the vibrant hues of the rocks themselves. The rock seems almost fluid as the colors flow in and around corners, luring the visitor through the kilometer-long passageway.
I can only imagine how beautiful the Siq must have been at the height of the caravan trade, especially considering the entrants had been traveling along a vast desert. You can see remnants today of the scores of temples, figures and even artwork along the way. One of the most impressive is a large relief of caravaners with their camels, walking along with you on the way to Petra.
At the end of the walk is the reward most visitors seek, the Treasury suddenly pops into view when least expected. It’s only the beginning though, there’s a lot more to the splendor of Petra, but the walk along the Siq is the perfect introduction.