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Al Beidha (Little Petra) (Jordan)

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Sightseeing Type: Castles / Palaces

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      24.10.2009 08:00
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      Well worth a visit if you have the time.

      Little Petra.

      Little Petra is found in Baida and known as Al Beidha is just a short distance from Petra itself. It takes about twenty minutes to half an hour at most to drive there. It is in the mountains and is hidden from view. We negotiated a good price with one of the taxi companies to take us there and then back to Aqaba who incidentally on route stopped high in the mountains to point out views of Petra and little Petra that we would have not noticed had he not done that. For the untrained eye looking for Petra it would have been very difficult to spot.

      Arriving at Little Petra there are a couple of local Bedouins from the local Bedouin camp who have set up stalls to sell local gifts and hand made items, cold drinks and souvenirs. There are also some locals who will offer to guide you through but to be honest it is not necessary as little Petra is very small and can be seen in a couple of hours or less.

      Like bigger Petra to enter it you have to walk through a Siq which is a small crack or cutting through the Rocks which is much narrower and not quite as long as the one found at Petra. At a guess it is probably about forty feet long and only 3 feet wide. It would have been too narrow for camels to pass through this small opening and they would have been left outside and tended by the Bedouins who lived here as they still do today. The little cutting is known as Siq Barid or cold canyon due to the cold wind that blows down it. Like Petra it is really quite cold in the Siq when shaded from the sun.


      There are similar buildings to those at Petra, dwellings, feeding halls for the many travellers who passed this way; there are also some tombs and a temple. Cut into the rocks there are steps that lead up to vantage points and small cave dwellings along the small canyon. There are also water channels which collected water to provide the community with fresh water for agriculture and for the visiting caravans as it was a major stop of route on their journeys to Jerusalem and Gaza. They caves were lived in by Nabataeans and the Bedouins.

      One of the big food halls still has pieces of ornate paintings on the ceiling little paintings of vine leaves and grapes with little birds sitting in the vines and also in flight, but due to the Bedouins cooking inside the food halls they have either burnt off or been seriously blackened and damaged by smoke. On each side of the dining halls are sinks for hand washing and there are ledges cut out of the rock for sitting down for the big feasts they were served.

      The nice thing about Little Petra is that it is far less busy and there are far fewer tourists there. It is very peaceful and quiet. There was one lone policeman on duty who came up one of the sets of steps to help me down and was quite cheerful trying to tell us about the rooms but in Arabic.

      On either side of the little canyon there are food halls and a channel to carry the water through supplying fresh water for drinking and washing. In the middle of the canyon half way through there is an area that looks like it is prone to flooding as there were water marks and channels in the ground and some remaining small pools of water. There were also a few trees and bushes here too.

      Walking to the end of the valley there is a flight of stairs cut into the rock which you can go up they are quite narrow in places due to the jutting rock face but it is possible to reach the top. At the top you are rewarded with a marvellous view or a wide open valley. There was also a Bedouin with a little plastic table and chairs with a thermos flask selling hot coffee and tea.

      Exploring the small cave dwellings and some of the food halls requires you not to be afraid of heights one of the food halls has been made safe by concrete slabs being put in to make it safe otherwise these caves would have been off limits to everyone. The food halls are quite ornate from the outside with carved columns carved out of the rock and other ornamental decorative carvings. One of the nice things about little Petra and Petra itself is that depending on where the sun is in the sky the colours of the sandstone rocks change throughout the day due to the changes in the levels of light from the sun. Whereas the sandstone rock at Petra has a reddish hue and being known as the Rose city, at little Petra the sandstone is paler and it is known as white Petra


      Some travel sites might tell you to not bother visiting this place as it is not worth it and to concentrate yourself on your visit to Petra and some tell you it is a must place to visit. I disagree with this the sites that they tell you not to visit as I would recommend a visit to Little Petra if you have the time as it is less crowded and easier to negotiate even if you have a mild degree of mobility problems and as long as you don't mind not going up some of the stairs to view some of the banqueting halls or the flight of stairs right at the end. The ground is quite sandy which can make it a bit difficult to walk on but on the whole I thought it was quite safe and less stony and uneven than Petra. You would be advised to wear sensible shoes and a sun hat as it can get quite hot in the middle of the day. As the surrounding mountains are quite high it does offer a bit of relief and shade from the burning sun.

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    • Product Details

      Smaller version of Petra lesser known and less touristy.