Little Petra of Jordan
In 2007 the ancient rose city of Petra was voted one of the 7 Wonders of the world, I couldn’t agree more, forget the movies, photographs, travel programs…nothing can possibly prepare you for the first sight of Petra and the colors changing by the minute from every shade of rose, pink, orange and brown in the entire spectrum. It’s one of those unique visions, that your camera cannot capture enough memories for you to remember, but today I don’t think I’ll be writing about Petra, I was thinking to be random and right about Little Petra, yes there is such a place as “LITTLE PETRA” in Jordan, which was also built by the Nabateans.
Little Petra is a 20 minute drive from Petra, where many may argue is a short stop where there isn’t much to see, yes perhaps there isn’t much to see, but there is so much history behind this little trail (which is connected to the actual Petra incase you didn’t know).
The Nabataeans constructed Petra as their capital city around 100 BCE, Beida, which is also Known as Little Petra was thought to have been built to have served as an agricultural center, trading suburb and resupply post for camel caravans. Little Petra was according to many archaeologist was known as a Nabatean Temple.
When I first arrived to Little Petra, I realized it has a Mini-Siq just like the real Petra, and was excited to walk through it to learn more about the hidden petra. Incase you’re wondering, no there aren’t any admission fees in little petra, very few tourists make it there, on the contrary there are some Bedouin sellers, and many little boys offering their guide services for “20 Jordanian Dinars” which I as a Jordanian know better to pay, so I bargained for 5 instead, and got away with it, not because I needed a guide, but because a 9 year old boy deserves to be tipped for walking me around occasionally!
Anyhow back to Little Petra, as the little boy walked me through the Siq of little petra, which is a narrow sandstone gap about 400 or 500 meters long, the first thing I learned about Little Petra is the massive Waster Cisterns, most commonly known as Bir-Al-Arayis.
Bir Al-Arayis Is originally a Nabatean Cistern consisting of three consecutive chambers that open to one another, with a total water storage of 1.2 million liters. A rock-cut staircase leads from the entrance of the cistern all the way down to its floor, which is 6 or 7 meters below the entrance level. The interior walls still retain some of the thick layer of plaster commonly found lining Nabatean Cisterns and dams. The Cistern was restored in modern times to serve the community of al Baida. I also learned that Little Petra has many caves, which have been shelter for many of the Merchants once dining rooms to feed hungry merchants and travelers.
Furthermore as I walked, I came across the painted Biclinium, which according to the sign posted next to it is a “part of the northern sector of the Siq-Al-Barid, which in a dining hall, with benches along side two of it’s walls and a vaulted alcove on it’s back wall. The painting covering the ceiling is the only surviving example of Nabataean paintings. It consists of grape vines, flowers, and birds, which dates back to the 1st century of AD.
Yes maybe there isn’t much to see in Little Petra after all, as you can tour the whole area in less the 45 minutes, but if your making it to Petra, the real rose city to admire the Nabataean culture of carving an entire city in stone, you might as well learn that there is more to their culture than the rose city its self. Little Petra is a living example of an entire culture, one of the nice things about little Petra and Petra itself is that depending on where the sun is in the sky the colors of the sandstone rocks change throughout the day due to the changes in the levels of light from the sun. Whereas the sandstone rock at Petra has a reddish hue and being known as the Rose city, at little Petra the sandstone is paler and it is known as white Petra.
So the next time you head down to Wadi Al-Musa to visit Petra, make sure to make a quick detour to little Petra, it’s never a loss learning about our beloved country, now is it?
– Sleepless in Amman
(c) All Pictures of Little Petra where taken by me
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