Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 2: Petra and Shoubak Castle

We started early on the second day of our Jordan trip so that we could get to Petra right at 8:00 a.m. when the gates opened.  This was largely to beat the heat, which grew oppressive as the morning drew on.  Many people are familiar with the iconic image of "The Treasury," a famous rock-cut tomb which was used in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."  That, however, is only one of scores of fantastic tombs cut out of the cliff sides that surround the site.  Perhaps the largest, known as "The Monastery" lies at the top of a formidable hike which was made all the harder because of the heat.

We left Petra about 2:00 and stopped at Shoubak Castle (officially Montreal Castle), a Crusader fortress which was have stopped to view before but never been in.  We then continued on the long drive north to Amman, the capital of Jordan.


As a warm-up for our visit to Petra, first view this video of me and Elaine riding camels in front of the famous treasury!

No quick summation of the history of Petra here can suffice.  Instead see the Wikipedia article on Petra and my earlier blog posts on the pages for the the Fall 2011 trip and the Winter 2012 trip.  Yousef guided us down the approach to Petra, through the Siq (the famous "crescent canyon") that enters the main part of Petra, and at the Treasury, where we had group pictures and camel rides.

Map of Petra. Wikimedia Commons.
We then had almost five ours of free time to visit the site  Most of the remains that interested us were Nabatean, but there were some interesting Roman remains and a couple of Byzantine churches.  This was Elaine's main objective in coming on the Jordan trip, and I think that she enjoyed it.

One of the early tombs on the main approach to Petra

 The Siq, the entrance to Petra

At the mouth of the Siq

At the bottom of the Siq, just as we were approaching the Treasury

Khazneh al-Firaun or the Treasury (so-called, it was actually a royal tomb)

The Treasury with my sweetheart . . .

 . . . and then with all my kids!
 Time to ride camels!

Holding hands . . . this was, after all, supposed to be a romantic getaway

Other scenes in Petra
Layout of the Grand Temple
Grand Temple from above

And with Eric showing off

A small theater was built inside the temple itself . . .

Elaine liked this elephant-head capital. I have never seen one like it before, seemed like Indian influence

Ad-Deir or "The Monastery" . . . at the TOP of a long, hot hike!

The beginning of the hike, looking up

This is what lay at the top, a rock-cut tomb much bigger than the more famous Treasury but a lot harder to get to!
Yes, it is big!!!

This is what we came up, looking down, and it was the hike back that lay ahead of us!

 Final scenes

A cliff side full of royal tombs
Elaine and a Bedouin girl

Dirty feet: the result of a long day of hiking through Petra dust

Shoubak Castle

The Crusaders were in the Holy Land, which included much of Jordan for about a 100 years.  They then lingered on the coast of Palestine, especially in and around Acre (modern Acco) for another century.  Because these Latin Christians from Europe formed a very small minority compared to the local Arabs and indigenous Christians (mostly Orthodox) over whom they ruled, and because they were under constant pressure from surrounding Muslim states, they built a series of strong castles throughout the Holy Land.  Shoubak is a fine example of one of these.

Looking down at our bus below through an arrow slit

With Burbidge Bey at the top of Shoubak

Finally, a message for L'Angel

Sometimes on our classmates needs to leave the program early.  This semester L'Angel Seabrook went home shortly after we returned from Turkey.  Whenever we get on the bus, we always countoff to make sure that everyone is on.  This video clip was our message to our friend . . . "32" was her number:

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