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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > Jbeil-Byblos > Grotto Mabaaj

Mab’aj, Another Wonder (Grotto Mabaaj)

Caves, natural hollows in the depths of the earth, may be anything from a few feet deep to a mile or more and anything between a few feet long to a number of miles. They are often millions of years old, going back to ancient geological epochs. Any stalactite may be the work of millions of years.

Lebanon has a great number of caves already discovered and there are certainly many more that remain to be discovered in the future. The wonderful grotto of Jeita has won world-wide fame, but there are plenty of others, such as the more modest grotto of Qadisha.

The grotto of Mab’aj was discovered in 1938. It is situated in the middle of the Jbeil region south-west of Annaya, near the monastery of Saint Theresa of Tourzaya, occupied by a community of friars. On leaving the coastal high road, one passes through majestic scenery overlooking the Adonis River, crowning a precipice which drops vertically from the mountain summit to the bottom of the valley and enriched with woodland, hamlets,, cultivated terraces and an abundances of gushing springs.

One may reach the grotto by following the main road going up from the Adonis, known also as Nahr Ibrahim, to Qartaba or by the route Byblos (Jbeil)-Saint Sharbel-Tourzaya. Speleologists have followed the interior of the cave for some thousands of yards and have reported the presence of water basins and stretches of water which can be followed up only by canoe. Geological studies have put the age of the rocks at over 190 million years. The total length of the cave is thought to be a little under three miles, but only the first 250 yards are open to sightseers.

Like all other caverns, this one fascinates us and we lose ourselves in our “unconscious”. In the depths of the earth, in this subterranean world, we give free rein to our imagination, comparing the world that we know and see every day on the one hand and on the other these extraordinary shapes lit up and revealed in all their mystery thanks to the play of light and shade.

Here we see the Sphinx, in Arabic Abu el-Houl, Father of Fright, and elsewhere the Singed Victory of Samothrace, the Door of Paradise, columns and capitals, temples, emblems of royalty, eagles, lions, candelabras, bells, a mother, draped saints both men and women, and much else.

The splendor and majesty of the place enthralls us and leaves us spellbound, while the colors of the rocks enriched by the luster of time takes our breath away. I myself imagine myself inside a human body enlarged a hundred thousand times so that spectators can travel through miles of blood vessels and the heart, lungs and organs in some fantastic adventure.

In order to cope with all the visitors, the Warden has made provision for various activities outside the grotto. There are camping sites, a zip-line for adults, games for children, domestic animals, birds, waterfalls, and every attraction to enchant.

The cave received its first visitors in the year 2007. As has been said, members of the public can progress 250 yards inside, over wet sand that has been piling up over millions of years. Most visitors are profoundly impressed, having made a discovery that they will never forget for all their lives. Concealed lighting reveals a world of fantasy all the way. The temperature is a steady 52 degrees Celsius, 54 Fahrenheit.

The site does not yet enjoy the same reputation as Jeita, but that will come; for the moment access is not sufficiently direct. When certain improvements have been made and the roads are better able to receive tourist traffic, popularity will go up by leaps and bounds. Completion of all the facilities will mean a flow of sightseers full of unbounded enthusiasm.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- Grotto Mabaaj 1: >> View Movie << (2014-07-01)
- Grotto Mabaaj 2: >> View Movie << (2014-07-01)
- Grotto Mabaaj 3: >> View Movie << (2014-07-01)
- Grotto Mabaaj 4: >> View Movie << (2014-07-01)



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