Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lebanon Excursion: Jeita Grotto

The Jeita Grotto is an impressive limestone cavern complex located 18 km North of Beirut. It consists of an upper grotto and a lower grotto. Discovered in 1958, the upper grotto, which functioned as a store for arnament during the civil war, can be explored on foot at length. The lower grotto was discovered in the 19th century by accident. It is crossed by an underground river and a boat ride is necessary to explore the 500 m that is open to the public out of the 6,200 m discovered.

Within these grottoes are the most magnificient shapes of stalacites and stalagmites - splendid limestone formations sculpted by the magical hands of nature and time. Upon entering the grottoes, we were immersed in a Tolkien-ish mystical surreal realm so breath-taking and awesome that we can hardly believe it to be natural. Taking of photos within the grottoes are prohibited for the fear of ruining the natural beauty of the formations. However, thanks to the wonders of internet, there is an abundance of pictures available. Yet the craft of man pales in comparison with the work of nature, only seeing it in person can one really appreciates the true beauty of the grottoes!

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