J`ita Travel Guide

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J`ita Overview

The Jeita Grotto (Arabic: مغارة جعيتا‎) is a compound of interconnected karstic limestone caves in Jeita, Lebanon located 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Beirut in the Valley of Nahr al-Kalb. The complex consists of two separate caves. They are over 2000 meters long but only about 600 meters are open to the public.

The lower cave was inhabited in prehistoric times but rediscovered in 1836 by Reverend William Thomson; it can only be visited by boat since it channels an underground river which provides fresh drinking water for the inhabitants of Beirut.

The upper cave was discovered in 1958 by Lebanese speleologists. Located 60 metres (200 ft) above the lower cave, it has been accommodated with an access tunnel and a series of walkways to enable tourists safe visitation without disturbing the natural landscape. The upper cave houses the world's largest stalactite, composed of a series of chambers. The largest chamber has a maximum height of 120 metres (390 ft).

The Jeita Grotto, managed by the German, Beirut-based private firm MAPAS, is a candidate in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition.

Jeita Grotto was selected as one of 28 finalists for the seven natural wonders of the world -- the only grotto/cave to be selected among the nominees. The New7Wonders Foundation is to announce the new wonders of nature in 2011.

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