Petra.

Petra can be divided in two parts, the Nabatean and the Roman. In total there are more than 600 carved facades and caves. The most elaborate were burial places, the bigger, the more high-ranked person was buried there. So the Treasury is actually a king’s grave.

The facade of the Treasury is mainly Greek-inspired but with some Egyptian elements.

The caves where people lived were without decorations.

To my big surprise I was told that more than 20 Beduin families still live in caves in Petra.

Here is a selection of facades from the Nabatean part of Petra.

The Roman part had of course an amphitheater.

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and ruins of a temple

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On my way back I rode a mule to the treasury and a horse and carriage through the Siq. It was unfortunately impossible to take pictures, but it was a suitable end to a visit i really liked. Petra is great!

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Three castles in the desert.

We visited three castles/fortresses in the desert north and east of Amman. They were very different, what they had in common was that they were old.

Qasr Azraq is the largest of the three and is strategically close to thee only water supply in 12000 square km. It is built partly with dark basaltand some of the constructions were very special as this outside stairs.

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or this ceiling

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The door in the gate was a big rock but was constructed so one person could open or close it.

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Lawrence of Arabia spent a few months here in the winter of 1917 during the revolt against the Ottoman empire.

Qasr al-Karanah looked like a military fortress to me, built as a square with sides 35 meters and towers in each corner. But there are other theories like caravanserai, meeting place for local chieftains, resting place for travelers.

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As can seen there are slits in the walls, but apparently they can not be used by bow and arrow, but is meant to give light and ventilation.

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Qasr Amra is clearly not meant to have a military purpose. It was q resting place for the kalif of Damascus during hunting season.

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The main room was decorated with fresco painting on walls and ceiling. The motives were different, but included a nude woman! (Top left in the picture).

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But also pictures of hunting and other motives.

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Ajlun.

Ajlun is a castle built by a nephew of Saladin and should be a stronghold against the crusaders. It has a commanding place on top of a hill, and has a great view over three valleys. It was also a central for pigeons used for sending messages between the strongholes.

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What I remember best from Ajlun are the steps. We met an Englishman coming out and he said “Welcome to the building with 5000 steps” and I think it was only slightly exaggerated.

It was a small museum where artifacts found in the castle were shown and the small glass items were most impressive to me.

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I met a group from Indonesia taking a selfie, and they were very surprised when I used the 5 Indonesian words I remember.

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Jerash.

Jerash was a city founded by Alexander the Great around 320BC, but the ruins are from the Roman period. It is said to be the best preserved Roman city outside Italy and it was very interesting for a history-interested man like me to walk through it. We entered through the triumph arch built for the visit of emperor Hadrian.
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The carving was very detailed.

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All essential parts of a Roman city were there like the hippodrom

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an amphitheater

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a temple for Zeus/Jupiter

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a  Cardia Maximus, main street, with pilars

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and of course a Forum, which was actually a building site for a festival

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I was just as much fascinated by the details as by the buildings and places like inscriptions, pilar tops etc.

I really enjoyed Jerash

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Djemila, another Roman city.

Djemila is another Roman city that is very well preserved. It is from the first century AD and was first populated by Roman soldiers from Italy, but it soon became a trading center and it was populated with 20000. Caracalla rebuilt part of the city with an Arch of Triumph, a new forum and a theater i a hillside.DSCF0496DSCF0513DSCF0528

In the fourth century Christianity was popular and a baptistery and a basilica were built and part of the city was called Christian quarter,DSCF0485bDSCF0489

Many of the houses had mosaic, but these were moved to a too small and overloaded museum. It was not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but I took one before I was stopped.DSCF0467

It was plenty  of details to take pictures of and here are some.

I took some pictures of people as well, some without they being aware of it, and some I asked first.

Headstones from Timgad.

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As can be seen they were roughly the same size,shape and layout. But looking at them they were very different and it was very interesting to look closer at them. They should probably describe the person and I found myself trying to figure out exactly that.

The first must have been a farmer, he has a sheep. But he must also have grown grapes, may be making wine? I like to think that! The second is a more conventional farmer with both cow and sheep.

The first must be a mother with four children living on a farm. May be she had lost two children now riding on dolphins above her head? What are the two male figures holding her and her children up ? Aret hey workers on her farm? Are they relatives supporting her? The second is a  couple, and they look happy as do the three faces above them.

The first is clearly a loving couple, and may be the person above their head is smiling. But the second picture is a mystery to me, a nude female on a headstone?

I really enjoyed this visit, both the historical side of it, a genuine Roman city, but also the chat with the two girls who loved me blue eyes and asked if I had a son! I said yes, and they were interested until they heard his age.

Timgad, a Roman city.

Timgad was a Roman city from the first century AD. It was probably a military camp for the legions guarding the southern border. It was planned for 15000 people but the number of inhabitants increased fast. It was abandoned around 600 AD and was discovered in 1880.

It is a good example of Roman city planning with streets, library, 14 baths, theater, forum, ramparts, layout, and arch of triumph.

Unfortunately the weather was not nice, a drizzle of rain (!) and cold, but I really enjoyed strolling up the main street up to the arch. Going through the arch I found myself talking to young girls.DSCF0432b

We had a slight language problem as their English was only a bit better than my French, that does not say much. But we managed to communicate. They were facinated with my blue eyes, they thought blue eyes were so beautiful! I sang “Beautiful, beautiful brown eyes” to them, but I don’t think that made any impressions except giggles.