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Petra By Night – The Power of a Path Into Darkness

Paper covered candles at night in Petra

Life’s been high on adventure lately, if low on sleep. Usually, I manage to find something beautiful, something that moves me wherever I go. But last night, in Petra, that didn’t happen.

Petra By Night

Lit only by candles and a shower of stars overhead, Petra’s passageway to the Treasury hides its main attraction beneath a reverential darkness. The curves and ripples of raspberry-rust rock that mesmerize by day disappear at night, lost in the inky silence.

Footsteps move across the stone and cats cry beyond in the shadows.

We are, after all, approaching a tomb. Or a temple. The Treasury was built not to store money – but to commemorate the dead or to worship the gods. Petra, as you might expect from a city that’s thousands of years old, has plenty of mysteries.

As we grow nearer, a voice sings to the solemn crowd, an invisible man among an expanse of candles shrouded in brown paper bags.

Petra by night wasn’t beautiful and it didn’t move me. Amid the half-light in Jordan, it overwhelmed me.

Petra candlelight

Pathway to Petra By Night

Dark Petra by night

Petra By Night

I’ll write more about Petra and Jordan soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos as I grab a few moments of sleep…

Disclosure: I am visiting Jordan as a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. All views, as ever, are mine.

UPDATE: I have gathered my posts about Jordan and a list of travel resources for Jordan on a page over here. F


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25 Responses to Petra By Night – The Power of a Path Into Darkness

  1. Lisa @chickybus October 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Very cool post! I went to Petra last year and liked it, but…it was midday and hot as hell. The sun was blinding at times.I drank two large bottles of water in just a few hours.

    I like the way your nighttime experience looks. Like an entirely different world–and one I would have enjoyed (and possibly even preferred). Thanks for this quick glimpse into it…

    • Abi November 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

      I went during the day as well but forgot the water and ended up with a splitting headache! Such a basic mistake…The night visit was surreal – calm, beautiful, ethereal…Wonderful.

  2. Lalitha Alexander October 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Hi Abigail,
    This is just gorgeous. Sharing it on our Fb page too :) We’re a travel blog that’s celebrating India and everything quirky about her !
    Its always a pleasure to meet other fellow travel enthusiasts who go beyond the ordinary. I loved your other post on ‘Read Softly…because you tread on my dreams’ :)
    Will stay connected to you for inspiration

    • Abi November 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

      Thank you – glad it helped.

  3. Erica October 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    That is just so romantic looking. /sigh

    • Abi November 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      I was there the night before my anniversary – just not with my husband! Half a romance I suppose…;)

  4. Stephanie - The Travel Chica October 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Very different perspective on Petra. Love the photos!

    • Abi November 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

      Thank you

  5. DTravelsRound October 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Beautiful. I would LOVE to experience this. I hope you are having a wonderful time.

    • Abi November 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

      I have a feeling you would enjoy it enormously…

  6. Margo October 31, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Sleep is ridiculously important. Hope you’ve caught up a bit. Beautiful pics!

  7. Abi November 1, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    I had…but another early morning airport trip threatens to undo the good work! One day ;)

  8. Fal November 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    I stumbled upon your site as I was reading up on Jordan. I’m keen to fly to Jordan this December. However, may I know if it is safe to travel to Jordan right not especially in the light of the Middle East riot?

    • Abi November 12, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

      Hey Fal. I can tell you that I experienced absolutely no problems whatsoever – and that Jordan has not witnessed the widespread riots and regime changes that some of its neighbours have. The people of Jordan (as in many other countries, such as the US and UK) have been asking for changes from their government. So far, that seems to be progressing peacefully.

      However, everything changes in every country, so I’ll add in a caveat here… I always check the advice here: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/jordan

      And just so that I can judge the tone of that advice, I always check it against countries I “know” to be safe, like the US ;)

      I hope you have a wondeful time, Abi

  9. Jason Alexander November 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Had a chance to go to Petra some time ago and keep meaning to go back!, your pictures make it look even more substantial, thanks for sharing.

    • Abi November 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

      It’s certainly worth seeing Petra by day – and night. Completely different experiences…Good luck on your journey back!

  10. Xurmat Xara November 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Awesome historical place… and its look like Graveyard :D

  11. Abi November 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Well, there are burial chambers nearby….(Shiver…) Yet for all the excavations so far, the exact function of “The Treasury” remains a mystery…

  12. Thrill Seeker November 13, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Those photos are stunning. I also like the bit about ‘mystery’ found in a town that is thousands of years old. It makes it all the more interesting and exciting when you don’t know all the answers.

    • Abi December 28, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      I agree – there is something about the mystery that enhances the suspense!

  13. Zablon Mukuba November 15, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    Visiting a place by night is as beautiful as visiting a place during the day

    • Abi December 28, 2011 at 8:34 am #

      If the lighting’s done well, it can be even more spectacular, I think. It strips away some of the grittiness of reality, just leaving the beauty there to see…

  14. Kirsten Alana November 28, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    This is so beautiful Abi. I don’t know how I missed it when you first posted it but I am very glad to discover it tonight when I needed a dose of inspiration.

    Overwhelmed, in a good way? Or bad. Perplexed, yet intrigued, by your words.

    • Abi December 28, 2011 at 8:44 am #

      Well, I suppose when you’re overwhelmed you have more than you can handle. At this point, I had more sensory input, ideas, thoughts and other vague and slightly tangled notions running through my head than I could make sense of.
      Simply stopping to take the time to look at the stars always gets me thinking…about space and time and the significance (or lack of it) of my tiny life in such a vast universe. Then Petra itself reminded me that the work of individuals can live on for thousands of years. By day, that’s clear in the stone columns that bring inspiration and amazement to millions of visitors. But by night, with the music playing to a silent crowd, it got me thinking about how culture lives on when it isn’t, literally, set in stone…And all of that after very little sleep and a lot of scrambling around in the heat to try to get the right shots left me, well, overwhelmed!
      I’ve an article in the pipeline about Petra that I hope explains things a little better…I’ve just been holding off right now because of the backlash in certain parts of the web.
      Hope that clarifies a few things!

  15. T.J. & Charlotte March 15, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    The last photo reminds me of Indiana Jones or something. Nice photos, nice writing. :)