There are few ceilings as beautiful in the world as inside the caves of Petra. Even Michelangelo’s work in my opinion doesn’t compare to the soft movement of the sandstone caves in Petra. The incredible tones of red, orange and white are characteristic of Nubian Sandstone, which is common throughout North Africa and Arabia.
Carved out by hand, the caves served as tombs for the Nabataeans. Some entrances remain intricately carved with architectural detail, while others have had their architectural splendor worn away over time. We found the caves and colors to be magnificent at sunset and the last of the day’s light bounced off the rocks giving the site a warm orange glow.
“It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time. “- John William Burgon (1845)
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IF YOU GO: We spent two days exploring Petra and probably could have spent longer. Purchase the two day pass, the upcharge is nominal and you’ll appreciate having the extra time, especially if it’s crowded on your first day. We loved exploring inside the carved out caves, they were a nice and shady place to rest, although some of them are still used by local bedouin (trust me, you’ll know which ones!). We love caves because they tend to be unique. Those in Petra were hand carved from the sandstone, but around the world there are caves man made and natural, made from all different types of rock. Even if you’re looking for something less adventurous like a beach vacation or taking all inclusive resort style holidays to Mauritius or another island, there are bound to be caves nearby worth a look!
You can read more IF YOU GO tips on Petra on our original post <here>.