New7Wonders of Nature
Lebanon’s New7Wonders of Nature bid
In Lebanon, the Jeita Grotto becomes the country’s official finalist candidate to the worldwide New7Wonders of Nature competition. Selected among one of the 28 landmarks, the Jeita Grotto fast-approaches the final stage of becoming one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature of the World in 2011.
One cave in the world that forever remains enchanting beyond words is Jeita Grotto. It is located in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, near the Qadisha Valley declared by Pope John Paul II as a Holy Land. A most dramatic natural resource on earth boasts a show cave tourism site in a huge panoramic setting offering tourists and the Lebanese soothing views in the valley of Nahr El-Kalb or Dog River in the Keserwan region.
Located at a distance of about 18 km north of Beirut, Jeita accommodates two crystallized grottoes with natural sculptural beauty with rock formations that seem to glow in the dark. This rare and marvelous natural wonder features a lower cave where the visitor can take a short dreamy cruise on a rowboat for a distance of approximately 450 meters of the 6200 meters from the explored part of the site.
Extraordinary formations of stalactites and stalagmites carved only by nature’s hands extend into unspoken oblivion. An upper cave displays views of imposing stone concretions in the form of cathedral vaults to a distance of approx. 750 m from the 2200 m explored section of the site. Sprawling green scenery as well as flower cultivation covers the vast expanse outside the caves. The site is provided with a ropeway, a small train, a projection theatre, a restaurant, snack bars, souvenir shops, gardens and a small zoo.
In December 2003, on behalf of the Beirut-based private company MAPAS, Jeita received a prestigious award from the 5th Tourism Summits in Chamonix, France. Les Sommets du Tourisme recognized MAPAS’ efforts inrestoring Lebanon’s most incredible, most unique, most breath-taking site. French President Jacques Chirac, the United Nations World Tourism Organization and the World Bank previously accorded the top Sustainable Development in Tourism prize in 2002 to MAPAS at a summit dubbed NewTies between Tourism and Culture in Geneva.
Nabil Haddad, managing director for the Lebanese firm operating the site of Jeita Grotto, asked: “Imagine Lebanon to stand beside other famous natural locations and takes part in the final stage of the contest with its magical caves. We thank all the voters who previously backed Jeita Grotto and expressed all their support to our wonderful cave,” he added, “Jeita Grotto is in the first group of 14 candidates and must remain there in order to get to the final round.”
The Jeïta Grotto receives many visitors and spares no effort to provide guest comfort and security, said Haddad. The stability of stalactites and stalagmites is notable. To this day, no accident has ever been recorded within the cave walls.