The common image of Petra shows it radiant, glowing under the bright sunlight. But, did you know that Petra is just as impressive, and even more mysterious, by night? This is what I wanted to experience during my third visit to Petra with the Jordan Tourism Board.
One thing is for sure, the moon’s white dim light and the golden paper candlelight give the ruins a mystique character that is different from what you will ever see during the day.
Unlike the regular visit to Petra during the day, Petra by night is only done on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at 8:30pm. There was still the slight presence of the twilight when I started walking from the entrance towards the mile-long Siq – the narrow gorge.
Once at the entrance of the Siq, I felt like the experience was exponentially heightened to new levels of sensorial experimentation.
The golden candlelight emanating from the ground creates a gradient with the white moonlight from above. The heat of the candles was barely felt when contrasted with cold winter breeze that pushed through the gorge. Trees created shadows; the stones and the sand on the floor created an interesting topography to walk on, and jagged walls created shapes. It felt like if I was in a longitudinal world that no longer exists.
The Siq was like a twisting serpent, turning here and there, only giving you a peek of what’s beyond, only for a couple hundred feet.
I stayed behind the group to take pictures with the space in its pristine condition and to have the space for myself. I didn’t feel scared of being alone at night; I was just in awe, enchanted by the unique experience I was having.
I reached The Treasury, again peeking at it through the gorge. But, this time was different. The space is filled with traditional Bedouin music, echoing and bringing life to a space that once heard no music for hundreds of years.
We all sat on mats, and with a cup of tea in hand, we were mesmerized with the hypnotic tunes played with the Bedouin flute.
The background of this performance… Al-Khazneh (The Treasury)… lit by hundreds of candles. I could see how the façade was brightly lit at its base, and as I raised my eyes, the façade turned darker and the details less visible, until it almost blended fully with the natural un-carved sandstone that frames it.
By the end of the performance, people started to walk out through the Siq. Again, I stayed behind to snap a few more shots. This is when I saw how The Treasury slowly lost its golden glow, as the workers took down the candles, one by one.
I loved the character the paper wrapped candles gave the space. It felt like stepping back in time. On my way out, it was like walking back to the present, through the warp hole that once brought me to this mysterious past. As I walked, I stayed a few steps ahead of the workers taking down the candles through the Siq, leaving only a dark shadow behind me.