PETRA, JORDAN – Jordan is practically synonymous with Petra, and Petra is practically synonymous with the Treasury; so, enter the transitive property, Jordan is practically the Treasury.
Therefore, should you be visiting the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, you should at least be familiar with this ancient testament to human ingenuity and manual labor.
If you have not seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, then please stop reading this and go watch it immediately. All done? Good. At approximately 1 hour 39 minutes and 43 seconds into the film Indiana comes across what he believes to be the final resting place of the Holy Grail – the Treasury. This is what you have to look forward to when exiting the Siq (a mile-long canyon leading to the site) into the ancient city of Petra.
When to See It
Since the Treasury is literally the first thing you see stepping out of the Siq, you will often find this place crowded with tourists. However, since many of these people will be going on guided tours, if you get to the site early enough (the Petra site opens at 06:00) you will find yourself literally, completely alone in the ancient city. The vendors abandoned booths will be sitting, open, with nothing but your morals preventing you from helping yourself to souvenirs, and you will be free (for a few hours at least) to explore Petra without someone hassling you to ride their donkey or camel.
As far as lighting goes, the look of the Treasury can vary dramatically throughout the day since it is built into an eastern-facing wall. Generally, around 10:00-11:00 will provide the most direct sunlight, but the rising sun and setting sun views are equally impressive.
- The Treasury got its name from a Bedouin tale that pirates hid treasure in the urn at the top of the second level. You can still see bullet holes from people attempting to break the urn open.
- Scholars maintain that the Treasury was built in the first century AD.
- The sculpture is 140 feet (43 meters) tall.
- It is thought to have been used as a temple or royal tomb.
- If you approach the façade, you can see two sub-terrain burial chambers on either side.