The two thousand year old ruins at Petra in Jordan are a glorious sight – for me, even better than the Pyramids. You enter through a narrow gorge and suddenly before you are the remains of an ancient civilisation. And of course, this was the backdrop for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. A fabulous scene where our hero meets an old Knight Templar and must choose the goblet that is the real Holy Grail or risk certain death.
It’s the most stunning historical location. And easy to see why it was chosen for that dramatic closing scene. Gorgeous Petra was once filthy rich as a trading crossroads between Arabia, Syria and Egypt. Countless merchants plied their wares here en route to other places.
But today, tourism commerce is looking thinner. Petra has seen visitor numbers nearly halve over the last twenty years. The reason is that people look on a map and see Jordan sitting between Syria, Iraq and Israel. What was once a geographical plus has become a worrying minus. Tourists worry about Middle East instability and decide to holiday elsewhere.
And no amount of associations between Petra, the Knights Templar and Indiana Jones seem to have boosted those numbers – which is terribly unfair.
Coronavirus will not have helped Petra visitor numbers either.
And yet – as you can see from my 2013 photos below – it’s a must. Not just for Templar and Indiana Jones fans – but anybody who loves history. To walk around this site and see the tombs cut into the hillsides and the broken ancient pottery beneath your feet. What’s not to like?