Once considered as a finalist for the “7 Natural Wonders of the World”, Lebanon’s Jeita Grotto is a sprawling cave complex located 11 miles (17.7 kms) north of the capital city of Beirut. The caves are divided into two separate grottos the upper and the lower grottos. The White Chamber in the upper grotto famously boasts the world’s largest stalactite, which hangs down 27 ft. from the cavern ceiling above. Accessible via a specially built walkway, the upper grotto reaches a dramatic terminus when the third chamber rises to an astounding height of 390 ft. A hollow chamber which gazes into the innards of the Earth, Jeita Grotto easily ranks as one of the top cave complexes on the planet.
Though evidence suggests that Jeita Grotto was once inhabited during ancient times, the gaping caverns were only rediscovered in 1863 after an American missionary stumbled upon the lower grotto. The lower grotto can be closed in the winter months due to high water levels, but is accessible during most parts of the year via a boat which traverses the subterranean Nahr el-Kalb river, the source of drinking water for much of the city of Beirut. International and local cavers have delved over 5 miles inside of the cavern making this the longest explored cave in Lebanon. During the Lebanese Civil War the grottos were closed to the public and used as munitions storage, and it wasn’t until 1995 that Jeita Grotto was reopened to the public and made into one of Lebanon’s most popular tourist destinations.