Lost and forbidden cities: Petra and Mecca

Petra, Wonder in the Desert is at the Museum of Antiquities until March 2014. It portrays the history and archaeology of Jordan’s famous hidden city, which Hollywood immortalised in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

What made this exhibition for me was the retrospective of paintings by Dutch artist Gerti Bierenbroodspot in Petra Revisited. She spent ten years there, helped with various archaeological digs and could paint wherever she wanted in the city.

“And then I saw Petra… it was like stepping into my own paintings, and more… it was like a very slow progress of stepping into metaphors of archaeology, architecture and mythology and tried to capture and put into another space (that of a large piece of rice-paper) these phenomena of the unconscious mind.” Gerti Bierenbroodspot

Petra is the classic lost city. Mecca though, arouses curiosity because it is a thriving but forbidden city. Unless you are a Muslim of course. What draws Muslims to Mecca? What do they do when they get there? And how does the pilgrimage to Mecca change their lives?

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