The Monastery

The path that leads towards Ad-Deir crosses open ground to the north of the city center and starts to ascend into the massif. The path climbs smoothly, sometimes flanked on one side or the other by sandstone outcrops. After a while, some stairs can be seen, carved into the rock face of a spur that rises to the right of the path, while a little further on, on the left-hand side, a narrow gully gives access to a small tomb called The Lion Tomb.

The path continues to climb, turning back and forth between rock spurs that are the home of lizards of all sizes and colors. At the steeper points, stone steps reveal the path's Nabataean origins.

The final section of the path climbs more steeply, passes through a narrow cleft between sheer walls of yellow sandstone, and emerges into an open area of white sand. On one side is cluster of eroded sandstone outcrops, some of which have been hollowed out by the combined effects of erosion and human activity. Facing them is a rock wall from which has been carved out another massive triclinium, similar to the Khazneh but larger and cruder. This is known as Ad-Deir ('The Monastery').

Ad-Deir, also known as The Monastery, resembles the Khazneh, but is larger, cruder and more eroded. The great doorway is around eight metres tall, and the facade as a whole is approximately fifty metres wide by forty-five tall. The whole structure, like the Khazneh, has been carved out of the rock face, and the flanking walls reveal clearly how deep the builders cut into the cliff to create it. The original name and significance of the monument is unknown, but its modern name stems from the fact that it was used as a monastery during Petra's Byzantine Christian period.

To the left of the monastery, a gap in the rock gives access to the base of a rough staircase that climbs steeply up the rock face. Some minor gymnastics are needed at first, but thereafter the climb becomes easier, and offers a good view of the facade seen at the height of the second level. The rest of Petra lies in the distance, hidden from view behind the bulk of Ad-Deir and the hills beyond.

The path emerges onto the top of Ad-Deir itself, just behind the left-hand element of the triclinium. This affords not only a unique view of the urn that crowns the central part of the facade, but also of the surrounding area. Looking down from the circular rim at the base of the urn it is possible to make out the outline of the forecourt.

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