In the late afternoon sun, the gorge known as Al Siq in Petra, Jordan, bursts into flame. The three-quarter mile long slot canyon is the main entrance to the ancient Nabatean city. The walls of Al Siq soar nearly 600 feet high in places and show evidence of millennia of wind and water erosion. However geologists tell us it was formed by a natural geological fault that occurred as a result of plate tectonics. Only after it split apart did wind and water work their magic to sculpt and smooth the walls.
During much of the day Al Siq is in shade and its colors are muted. But beginning around 3 p.m., the sun’s rays begin trickling into the canyon. The rocks come alive in shades ranging from pink to burnished gold to flaming red, as if they are lit from within. Al Siq itself would be reason enough to visit, but it is perhaps the least of the astonishing of the sites at Petra. At the end of the gorge, a final sweeping curve leads to The Treasury, a stunning monolithic building hewn out of solid rock. Truly one of the wonders of the world, Petra should be on everyone’s travel wish list.