Temple fatigue

I admit it: I have been avoiding Jordan. After a solid effort schlepping around Egypt’s antiquities, not to mention those of Morocco and Iran, I thought the ancient city of Petra, built around the first century BC, would be just wasted on me.

I was suffering a serious case of temple burn-out. Show me another Roman ruin, hear me scream.

Last night, I finally faced my fears and visited the jewel of Jordan, Petra, by night. The ruins are fabulously intact, and lit by hundreds of candles, an international group gathered at 8.30pm to walk down to the most amazing building, the Treasury.

The rules were clear: no mobile phones, no photos and, incredibly, no talking.

Silence is the key, as you walk through the Siq, the crack in the canyon that leads into this secretive building.

“Please walk in single file, but couples can walk hand-in-hand, and we wish our singles the best of luck,” said the organisers in their opening spiel.

Unfortunately, none of the Spaniards in the group (and there were many) heard the instructions because…well, they were all talking. I realised early on in the piece that I’d have to isolate myself from the Continental types and hitch up with the law-abiding northern Europeans and Anglos. Worked like a charm.

The canyon’s walls rise up to 80 meters high, dwarfing us in darkness as we followed the trail of candles. When we reached the 2000-year old Treasury building, performers played traditional instruments, eerie in the night air.

I spent the whole day today in Petra by daylight, and after walking about 20km, with help from a few trotting horses and plenty of sugar-fuelled sage-infused tea from charming Bedouin women, I’m suffering temple fatigue, again.

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

3 thoughts on “Temple fatigue

  1. Hi Belle, I read about Patra and its temples and I have seen a lot of pictures for them but your was different… It was nicer but still the pictures you have taken there are few… I wonder why

  2. The experience at night sounds wonderful…I dont envy all the Kms!

    I always think some good background material or a knowledgeable guide makes for a deeper enjoyment with any historical site…in order to get the historical context and relative importance of what you are seeing.

    From memory, this is temple they somehow included in the film… Raiders of the Lost Ark?

  3. Hey Corby, that's right, I should have mentioned it's in Indiana's Last Crusade that they feature the Treasury building in Petra. Aladin, I have BUCKETS of photos which I'll put up, but I was pretty much on the go the whole time in Jordan, so now I'm home in Cairo, am collecting my images and will load some up on my site so you can take a look! Have so much to write about Jordan – such a little country, so much history!

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