|Location:||At Dinant, 500m from the railway stationand the Dinant bridge, on the left bank of the river Meuse.|
APR to JUN daily 10-17.
JUL to AUG daily 10-18.
SEP to OCT daily 10-17.
NOV to MAR Sat, Sun, Hol 13-16.
Tours every hour on the hour.
Adults EUR 8, Children EUR 5, Seniors EUR 4.50.
Groups: Adults EUR 7, Children EUR 4.50, Seniors EUR 4.
|Guided tours:||D=50min., L=650m.|
Anne Court (1968):
Grotte la Merveilleuse and Grotte de Mont-Fat,
The Speleologist, Vol 2 No 15 Spring 1968 pp 21-22 (see link below)
|Address:||Grotte de Dinant La Merveilleuse, Route de Philippeville 142, 5500 Dinant, Tel: +32-82-222210, +32-82-223042, Fax: +32-82-226016. E-mail:|
|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.
|1904||discovered by workmen during railroad construction.|
The Grotte La Merveilleuse (The Wonderful Cave) is said to be the most beautiful cave of Belgium. Pure white stalactites and stalagmites in overwhelming abundance. At least this is the way, the cave is advertised. Actually we think this is a bad strategy, as such overly exaggerated appraisals result in unrealistic expectations. Expectations the real cave will never be able to achieve, the result is often disappointment.
So let us try to get a more realistic and impartial picture of this cave. The Grotte de Dinant was discovered during the construction of the railroad, only 500m from the railway station of Dinant. Where today the road climbs up from the river Meuse to the surrounding plateau, it cuts deep into the karstified limestone. The workmen were obviously watchful, so they recognized the small hole when they cut into the cave. They alerted the owners of the land, who decided to have a look into the cave. The cave was not difficult to explore, as ordinary people lacking basic caving equipment were able to explore it completely in a few hours.
At the time of the discovery the first visitors were baffled by the beauty of the cave. It was located at the road, not difficult to develop, and the touristic potential was obvious. We guess at this time the cave was really the most beautiful tourist cave of Belgium. But there are caves like the Grottes de Han-sur-Lesse in Belgium, and this little cave is definitely not playing in the same league. We guess the exaggeration is the personal touch of the people who discovered and developed the cave. They developed the cave similar to a fun fair and advertised it like a carnival barker would do. Other strange results of this attitude are the concrete rails resembling wood, the colored light bulbs, and the light which concentrates solely on the formations. The cave was first named Grotte de Raimpaine or Grotte de Dinant, but soon it became Grotte la Merveilleuse.
For an even more detailed description of a cave visit we recommend the text by Anne Court linked below.
This cave was used as a shelter during World War II. But not simply as an air raid shelter, the river Meuse became the front at the end of World War II. The Allied Forces were fighting the Germans, continually advancing towards Germany. The citizens of Dinant fled into the cave when the front approached and stayed underground while Americans on the left side of the river fought against Germans on the right side of the river. They stayed underground for ten days, until the front had moved away.
Today the cave is regularly used for Jazz concerts. Dinant is the birthplace of Alphonse Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. Every four years there is a saxophone contest which takes place in the cave.