Biblical scenes come to life in Jordan, where ancient Roman ruins, the sacred river where Jesus was baptised, and a sea that served as King David’s refuge lie. A Jordan holiday offers visitors a glimpse of the celebrated past of this Arab country where centuries-old attractions stand in the limelight.
On the slopes of Mount Hor sits Petra, a famous archaeological site that was once the kingdom of the Nabataeans, an ancient Semitic people. The poet John William Burgon once immortalised Petra as a “a rose-red city half as old as time.” A popular attraction on Jordan holidays, Petra is a magnificent display of rough-cut architecture that’s worthy of its stature as a World Heritage Site and one of 2007’s New Seven Wonders of the World.
Petra today is as an archaeological park, and is accessible through a long, winding sandstone canyon called Siq. Colourful sandstone patterns adorn Petra’s rock walls, and the terracotta pipes used during the Roman times can be seen from the canyon’s sides. A must-see in Petra is the Treasury, which, according to stories, features an urn filled with the hidden treasures of one of the pharaohs. There’s also a 7000-seat Roman Theater standing opposite the Royal Tombs, which emit a ruby-red glow under the setting sun. The Monastery is the highlight of Petra, an impressive facade of rocks and pillars. The top of the monastery is accessible to tourists via a donkey ride or a challenging 800-step climb.
Not to be missed on Jordan holidays is Wadi Rum, a stunning desert landscape home to fascinating desert life and Bedouin culture. Hiking, camel rides, and jeep tours to archaeological sites are some of the popular activities here. Small birds such as African Rock Martins, reptiles such as the Blue Agama, and mammals such as mouse-like gerbils inhabit the desert.
Other attractions to see on Jordan holidays are Jerash, a Greco-Roman city where chariot races were staged; Madaba, known for its mosaic map of Palestine; and Mount Nebo, the elevated ridge from where Moses is said to have sighted the “Promised Land.”