Petra: secrets of Jordan’s lost city

Vast stacks of sandstone loom over the arid valley of Wadi Musa like giant handfuls of sun-baked clay. But even in this parched landscape, there are places where the sun casts no light. Walls 200m high keep the Siq permanently cast in shadow – it’s as though the long, narrow canyon passes through the dark heart of the mountain itself. Utterly silent at dawn, there is not even a bird’s chirrup to accompany solitary footsteps along its patchwork floor of rock and sand.

Through a lightning-bolt shaped opening, Petra announces itself with deliberate drama. The vast façade of the Treasury, precisely carved into the soft sandstone, towers over the young Bedouin men, camels and stray cats that congregate at its base.