Magharet Jeita

Jeita Grotto - Jeita Caverns - Zaita Caverns


Useful Information

Location: 25km From Beirut, take the Beirut-Jounieh Highway north as far as Nahr al-kalb, then Faraya road for 3km. Turn right at large sign-post for Jeita at Zouk Mickael village. The cave is just beyond the tunnel. (33°56'36.20"N, 35°38'28.89"E)
Open: FEB-MAR, OCT-JAN Tue-Sun 9-17. APR-JUN, SEP Tue-Fri 9-18, Sat-Sun 9-19. JUL-AUG Mon-Fri 9-18, Sat-Sun 9-19. JAN-FEB closed for four weeks.
Fee: Adults 11$, Children (4-11) 6$
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension: A=300m asl, L=9,040m, VR=305m.
Lower Gallery: L=6,910m, T=16°C.
Upper Gallery: L=2,130m, T=22°C.
Guided tours: D=120min., VR=120m, L=1370m.
Lower Gallery: L=600m, by boat.
Upper Gallery: L=650m.
V=279,000/a [2000]
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Magharet Jeita, E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2014/07/21 08:11:15 $

History

 
1836lower level discovered, supposedly by the Reverend William Thomson, an American missionary.
1873explored by H.G. Huxley and W.J. Maxwell, and Daniel Bliss.
1958lower level opened to the public. Upper gallery discovered.
JAN-1969upper galleries opened to the public.
NOV-1969concert by the German composer Carl-Heinrich Stockhausen.
1978closed because of the Lebanese conflict.
1993restoration started.
06-JUL-1995reopened.

Description

The tour through Jeita Cavern includes a boat ride through the lower galleries, the visit to the upper galleries on foot and a film presentation.

The lower level is full of the noise of the subterranean river Nahr el Kalb (Dog River). But the roar of the waterfall at the entrance converts to profound silence, as the visitor glides deeper into the cave during the 600 metre boat ride on a lake formed by the river.

The upper gallery is famous for its formations, lit by an effective lighting system. It is entered through a 117m long concrete tunnel. This part has three huge chambers. The first is called White Chamber, the second Red Chamber, due to the colour of the formations.

White dripstones are pure calcite without defilement, the red colour is given by iron oxide (rust) in small amouts. In Lebanon iron oxide has a red colour instead of the brown beige colour which is common for more northern countries. The reason is a different chemical reaction caused by the high temperature which produces a different kind of iron oxide.

The White Chamber is medium sized, but has the most impresive formations of the cave. The tallest stalagtite is 8.2m long. The Red Chamber is really huge, it is up to 106m high, and 30 to 50m wide. The third chamber is even bigger and has a height of more than 120m.

In summer you can visit both, the upper and the lower level. In winter the lower level is sometimes closed, when the water level is too high.

The cave was supposedly discovered by the Reverend William Thomson, an American missionary. He entered the cave, actually totally unprepared, and after 50 meters he obviously mentioned that this was not a good idea. It seems he did not want to turn around without a last effort, so he fired a shot from his gun, and the resulting echoes convinced him that he had found an enormous cavern. The first exploration of the cave happened around 1873 and was carried out by two enngineers at the Beirut Water Company, H.G. Huxley and W.J. Maxwell, and their friend Daniel Bliss, president of the American University of Beirut. To leave a trace, they wrote their names and the date of their expedition on a piece of paper, sealed it in a bottle, and left it on top of a stalagmite. The idea was obviously to find a place where it could easily be seen. Unfortunately, on stalagmites that grow anything is covered by the calcite precipitating from the dripping water. So the bottle is today, more than 100 years later, covered by a layer of calcite permanently fixing it to the stone.

At the inauguration of the upper galleries a concert with electronic music by the French composer Francois Bayle took place in the cave. This event was organized by the Lebanese artist and sculptor Ghassan Klink. Other cultural events have taken place in this unusual surrounding, including a concert by the German composer Carl-Heinrich Stockhausen in November 1969.

Jeita remained a popular attraction until the recent Lebanese conflict forced it to close in the mid 1970's. Upon the initiative of the Ministry of Tourism the complex was renovated and re-equiped and was again opened to the public on 06-JUL-1995.


See also


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