Yemen Stories and Tips

Petra and Wadi Rum

Arab Bride Photo, Yemen, Middle East

Two of the most famous places in Jordan are Petra, the city literally carved out of rose-colored sandstone, and Wadi Rum, which has some of the most spectacular desert scenery in the Middle East. Both are easily visited from either Amman or a ship in the Red Sea.

Petra is almost unbelievable in its beauty and ingenuity by stonemasons. It was hidden away for centuries and has been occupied probably as long as anywhere in the Middle East. When the Roman Empire came into the desert, the Romans im,ported their own stone masons to give the original Arab architecture a Roman look, and over the centuries more than 10,000 buildings were carved out of the vast cliffs. The Romans carved an entire arena out of one cliff and a wide variety of private homes, public gathering places, storage areas and religious shrines are still standing there, etched out of the cliffs.

It is a long, very hot and dry walk from the hotels and parking lots to the main city, so you might want to ride one of the horses the local Bedouins rent or ride a jeep or bus down the extremely narrow slash in the cliffs that is the only route in.

Early and late in the day you may see goat herders moving their sheep through the city, and sometimes you can hear the herder playing a flute while watching his animals.

Be warned: Do not go into the city without at least a liter of water. I didn't bother and after an hour all I could think about was water. The second day I had two liters of water with me.

Wadi Rum isn't very far north of Petra and if you saw the film Lawrence of Arabia, you might remember some of the scenery because some of it was filmed there. Wadi Rum is noted for the strange sandsdtone formations created by wind and sand, and mile after mile of multi-colored sand dunes. There is a very small village with a police station, a school and a cafe. Otherwise, it is just you and the dramatic desert.

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