When you envisage Petra, you will undoubtedly think of the enormous sandstone carvings of the Treasury and the Monastery, those huge structures that we have seen so many times in photographs as one of The World's 7 Wonders.
Well for those of you that haven't been, Petra isn't just these two monuments. It's a site the size of a city and is situated on one of the most fascinating geological sites I have ever been to. It is expected that 20,000 - 30,000 people used to live there 2500 years ago, and the creators of the site had carefully selected this location based on the beautiful layered sandstone that makes up the rock.
Incredibly, this rock was formed up to 540 million years ago by ancient river beds that transported the sand into these layers and patterns. The colours vary so much due to the chemical break up of minerals in the sand, the reds containing iron and the others with manganese oxides and hydroxide minerals. I was amazed to see the sands so colourful, the pictures I have seen previously of Petra are really just of tan coloured sand and not much else, so it was such a surprise to see these unique rock formations. It was honestly like looking at a work of art; an abstract painting with expressive brushstrokes, marbled patterns and layered colours. I was in my element, exploring the hundreds of caves that make up the site and discovering the natural artworks on nearly every wall. I probably took about a zillion photos for 'inspiration' which I'm sure Mark wasn't too happy about!
Some of the cave tombs use this patterned rock almost like a mural inside, a display of the richness of the land, it's natural beauty and an important marker for the dead. These intricate wallpapers are something that have stood the test of time and have remained unchanged for the last 540 million years, or so.
I am looking at these sandscapes, to me they look like classic asian ink paintings, similar to the wave paintings that we see so much on Japanese scrolls. The colours however are fierce, beautiful hues of blood red, apricot, mustard, aubergine, nude and then subtly contrasted with grey/blue. It look so considered, and yet so organic in its form.
I can't help thinking this would be the perfect inspiration for our next design project. Perhaps we can incorporate these beautiful patterns and shapes into our furniture somehow, maybe dying wood into these colours, trying to capture some of the organic shapes that make up these naturally-occurring patterns.
If you do ever get to visit Petra, make sure you allocate enough time to explore the vast geological site and monuments within it. The locals say that you could spend a week there and see something new every time. We spent 3 days there in total, and trekked in from Little Petra Siq across the valleys and around the edge of the mountains which was a clear highlight. The path between Little Petra Siq and Petra is actually part of the Jordan Trail, a trekking route that runs from one length of the country to the other, taking 40 days in total to walk it. The hike from Little Petra Siq to Petra takes around 3-4 hours and is relatively straight forward, just make sure you take enough water and avoid walking if rain is forecast due to flash flooding.
If you have any questions or need any help on your trip then just let us know and we would be happy to get back to you.
(So you can find it again next time)