Winding your way through a narrow, towering canyon where camel trains the size of armies once brought frankincense, myrrh, silk and slaves, that first glimpse of Petra, the lost city of the Nabateans, rose pink in the afternoon sun, is gobsmacking.
The thing that grabs you, first of all, is the scale.
Petra is enormous. It extends for at least 60 square kilometres through canyons, up mountains and along river beds — most of its ruins are sized for giants.
A mere two storeys high, the Treasury (never a treasury, but rather a king’s tomb) stands almost 40 metres tall, or eight to twelve times life size.
Several of his successors built even bigger, though most were damaged by the series of earthquakes that left the city abandoned.
Even the public buildings that lined Petra’s colonnaded main street were, pretty much, on steroids. This temple, still only partly excavated, was the largest religious structure in the Middle East.
I mean, in Petra, even the boulders are big…
But, seeing we’re talking giant-sized…
This is us in the doorway of the Monastery.
As with so much in Petra, nobody knows exactly what this building was used for, but most likely it was built to worship a dead god-king.
And this is the Monastery itself.
It is big. Ridiculously big.