Thursday, November 20, 2008
Only a few caverns in the world approach the magnificent and astonishing wealth to the extent of the Jeita Grotto in Lebanon. Raindrops of more than a thousands years have worked a magic wonder in the limestone of the Mount Lebanon range.
In these caves and galleries, known to man since Paleolithic times, the action of water has created cathedral-like vaults beneath the hills of Mount Lebanon, forming one of the world's most beautiful and astonishing caverns found 20 km north of Beirut.
The caves wa discovered in 1863 by an American hunter, and first opened to the public in 1958. The Jeita Grotto soon became internationally known for the spectacular formations of stalactites and stalagmites, stone curtains and columns. The caves have attracted some 10,000 visitors a week since the site was reopened to the public in July 1995.
The caverns is on two levels: the lower caverns is visited by boat over a subterranean lake that is 623 meters long, while the dry upper gallery can be seen on foot. The lower section is sometimes closed in winter when the water level is high, but the extensive upper galleries are open all the time.
Geologically, the caves provide a tunnel or escape route for the underground river, which is the principal source of the Dog River. The cave is more than 9000 meters in length and 108 meters in height from the ceiling to the water level.