The flag of the Kingdom of Jordan utilizes the Pan-Arab colors of black, white, green, and red, consistent with the colors used in other flags of Middle East nations. The red chevron represents the Hashemite dynasty, the oldest ruling royal family dynasty in the Arab world. The 7-pointed white star imbedded in the red chevron represent the seven verses of Islamic belief that open the Qur’an.
Amazing Trip to Petra —
When I was in my 20s the Indian Jones and the Last Crusade film was released and until then I had never heard of Petra. After watching the film, I knew that someday I had to see Petra for myself. Fast forward some 30 years later and I finally got an opportunity to go to Petra, and to make it even better, I was able to take my son who is in his 20s. We flew to Amman from Dubai, into the Queen Alia International Airport, which is a smallish but very nice airport. Based on a recommendation from a work colleague, we hired a local guide and driver from a licensed tour operator who were great! Since we only had two full days, we first toured Madaba and Mount Nebo nearer to Amman before going to Petra. More about Madaba and Mount Nebo later; I want to show you Petra first.
After buying our Petra tickets at the museum, my son and I started our walk into the canyon to see The Treasury. Turns out, it’s a loooong walk but we had planned ahead and expected it. Let me pause here and say that Petra is a HUGE complex as we found out during our day there! If you hike only on the main trail, round trip is 8km (5 miles). Back to our initial hike to The Treasury; we encountered many many locals that approached us with offers to ride horses, donkeys, carts, or tried to get us to go on a ‘tour’ or ‘shorter route’ with them as our guide. We politely declined (repeatedly) and carried on to the The Treasury on our own and as we hiked further into the canyon we entered the ‘siq’, which has very narrow sandstone walls that seemed to become taller and taller the deeper into the siq we hiked. Then finally, there was The Treasury in front of us; a sight that did not disappoint! In my opinion, it was even better than all the media hype. As we stood in awe, in my head I could hear the Indiana Jones theme tune, especially since I was sporting a fedora of my own.
From The Treasury we hired a local guide to lead us up to a birds-eye view of The Treasury from the sandstone cliffs above. From there we climbed and hiked our way to the ‘High Place of Sacrifice’. The part I liked best about the hike was that we actually had to climb rock formations without benefit of steps, handrails, or ropes…it was real raw rock climbing. Probably not the safest thing we’ve ever done, but we loved it!!
Madaba – The city of Mosaics
The day before traveling to Petra we toured historical Madaba. Jordan is probably best known for Petra, but most people don’t realize that Jordan is rich in history including Holy Land sites, Roman era historical sites, as well as Byzantine-era mosaics in Madaba. The most famous mosaic is a well preserved map on the floor of St George’s Church dating to 560 AD. It was remarkable! We even visited a mosaic factory where modern day artists demonstrated how the mosaics were constructed (and of course there were many mosaics for sale–a bit of a tourist trap). Also, near Madaba is Mount Nebo where God first showed Moses the ‘promised land’. On a clear day you can see the Dead Sea and Israel to the west from Mount Nebo, which rises to 710 meters (2,330 ft) above sea level.
Facts & Figures
— Jordan is officially a Muslim country but is also home to a population of Christians; we were impressed by the fact that Muslims and Christians in Jordan live together in harmony–as it should be!
— Petra may have been settled as early as 9000 BC (Before Christ); it was eventually established as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom in the 4th century BC
— In 1985, Petra was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, four years before Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released (filmed on site at Petra)
— Petra was first ‘exposed’ to the West in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johannes Burckhardt who dressed up as an Arab and convinced a Bedouin guide to take him to Petra
— Jordan has an amazing ancient history, in fact, there is evidence of human habitation in Jordan that dates back some 250,000 years!
— Jordan is very safe for westerners and the people are so very friendly, and if you use the standard Arabic greeting ‘a salaam alaykum’ (meaning ‘peace be with you’) you will make instant friends
— Arabic is the official language of Jordan, however English is widely spoken and most signage shows Arabic and English (including road signs)
— We hired a car and driver with tour guide that picked us up from the airport, took us to the sites in and around Madaba, and onward to Petra (around a 3 hour drive south)
— Along the trails within Petra there will be many locals selling goods and many will kindly (and persistently) offer tea brewed on the spot; we advise that you politely refuse the tea due to concerns over hygiene of the cups; simply say ‘salaam’ (peace) or ‘la shukran’ (no thank you) and move on
— The unit of currency for Jordan is the Dinar (JOD), which is surprisingly strong against the USD and GBP
Deuteronomy 34:1-4 – New Living Translation (NLT)
1-4 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land–from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negrev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
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