Lifestyle & Belief

Obama tours ancient city of Petra in Jordan to cap off Middle East trip (PHOTOS)


US President Barack Obama tours the Treasury Building at the ancient city of Petra, in Jordan, on March 23, 2013. Obama arrived in Jordan on March 22, on the last leg of a Middle East tour after challenging Israelis to embrace peace with Palestinians.


Saul Loeb

President Obama played tourist in the Middle East on Saturday, after finishing up his diplomatic tour of the region in Jordan on Friday.

Obama toured the ancient ruins of the city of Petra just a day after he met with Jordan's King Abdullah and agreed to pledge an additional $200 million to help Syrian refugees. 

"This will mean more humanitarian assistance and basic services, including education for Syrian children so far from home, whose lives have been upended," Obama said.

He was guided through the ruins by a University of Jordan tourism professor, CNN reported.

The ancient city is Jordan's top tourist destination: over half a million people visit each year, according to BBC News. It is 2,000 years old and carved completely of rose-red stone. 

“The president is well-traveled and respects the history of the places he visits,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, told reporters. “It’s important to go beyond bilateral meetings and summits.”

He also visited Bethlehem to see the Church of the Nativity, which marks the birthplace of Jesus Christ. 

“It’s amazing,” President Obama said while observing the city's cliffs. “Spectacular.”

The President was relaxing after a tough visit throughout the Middle East, including fielding questions about why America was not doing more to stop the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

Obama is scheduled to take his helicopter back to Amman Saturday afternoon for his return flight to Washington aboard Air Force One, according to Politico

More from GlobalPost: Obama visits Israel; Middle East scholar Rashid Khalidi weighs in