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The cave of Jeíta is located 20 km from Beirut. Jeíta means “big noise”, because of the noise from the water streams inside the cave. The Jeíta grotto is placed in the beautiful Green Valley of Nahr al-Kalb, the main source of this river, which provides drinking water to Beirut. The Jeita Grotto is one of the most beautiful caves in the world and was elected the first natural wonder of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The cave consists of a complex of caves and which is divided into two levels which penetrate more than 6 km inside the mountain, with upper and lower levels.
The cave on the lower level was inhabited in the prehistoric era and was discovered in 1836 by Reverend William Thomson, American missioner. On this level, the visitors can take a tour in small boats of electric propulsion, a path of 500 meters. In 1956 the lower Cave was open to the visiting public.
The upper level Cave was discovered in 1958 by Lebanese cavers, and it is 60 meters above the lower Grotto and has a length of 2,130 meters, only 750 meters can be visited tough. In this part the visitor can stroll and enjoy the walls covered with stalagmites and stalactites. Stopping and observing the visitor will be able to notice column forms, mushrooms, curtains, shapes of people, animals, and tower shapes rocks.
On the cave is found one of the largest stalactite in the world, 8.20 meters. In 1969 was performed a music concert by the French composer François Bayle to inaugurate the opening to the public. The planner of this event was the Lebanese artist and sculptor Ghassan Klink, uncle of the Brazilian Navigator Amyr Klink.
In 1873 the engineers of Beirut and Mount Lebanon water company, W.J. Maxwell and H.G. Huxley with their friend Reverend Daniel Bliss, President of the Syrian Protestant College (now American University of Beirut-AUB) who studied the cave recorded their names and the year on of the quest (1873) in the so-called “Maxwell’s Column”, a large stone column footwear located 625 meters from the entrance. Then, the 200 meters, more on the site called “Pantheon”, they wrote on paper their names and details of the expedition and put the paper into a bottle and it was placed on the Summit of a stalagmite. The bottle was getting water drops and today she’s with a thin layer of limestone and attached in the stone.
The Grotto was closed during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) and was reopened in 1995, with a great structure to facilitate the visit of tourists coming from all over the world to enjoy the beauty that nature has carved and continues carving since 1,000,000 years ago, drop by drop, creating about 3 new millimeters per year. A masterpiece of nature, done with a lot of patience and skill. Visit and feel the thrill of being in front of an eternal nature.
by Roberto Khatlab
This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Brazil))