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Natural Wonders in Lebanon

By Edited Jul 15, 2016 0 0
Qadisha Grotto

Qadisha Grotto

Qadisha Grotto is one of several caves in the isolated and beautiful Qadisha Valley in northern Lebanon. The word Qadisha comes from a Semitic word for "holy," which is fitting because this steep-sided valley has attracted many monks, hermits, ascetics, and other holy men since the early Middle Ages. It may have been the rugged isolation that attracted them, or perhaps the natural beauty of the place. The large caves ensured both privacy and security.

The grotto is located at the foot of the famous Cedars of Lebanon, below the shadow of Qornet es Sawda, the tallest mountain in Lebanon. The interior of the cave is filled with a forest of colorful stalactites and stalagmites. Natural springs bubble up within Qadisha Grotto and spill out as a dramatic waterfall down into the valley. This is the source of the Qadisha River that runs through the length of the valley. The rushing spring water and high altitude ensure a cool low temperature within Qadisha Grotto, so it is unlikely that this cave was ever inhabited. Although it was previously known to locals, it was "discovered" in 1923 by a monk named John Jacob who was looking for the source of the Qadisha River

Pigeon Rocks

Pigeon Rocks

The Pigeon Rocks are the scenic highlight of Beirut's coastal region. These sturdy stone arches are located 330 feet (100 meters) offshore in direct view of the cafés and restaurants that line the city's Corniche. The waves rolling in from the Mediterranean Sea crash into the rocks with fantastic sprays of white water, and this relentless erosion has carved giant passageways through these monuments and turned them into spectacular natural arches. Sunset is a popular time to see Pigeon Rocks, which provide a dramatic frame for the setting sun. During the summer, boat trips take passengers around the rocks. The cliffs can only be reached by an exhilarating boat trip that requires a boatman who knows how to contend with the incoming waves. The coastline also shows signs of extreme weathering by the sea, with enormous caves hollowed out of the chalk cliffs by the waves.

Fifty years ago, the Pigeon Rocks were the natural habitat of the rare Mediterranean monk seal. In recent years, species that disappeared during the years of civil war have been returning, and a number of beaches in the area have been set aside as protected breeding grounds for loggerhead turtles.

Cedars Of Lebanon

Cedars Of Lebanon

The mountains of Lebanon were once covered by vast cedar forests and these giant trees were celebrated in the Bible, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and many other ancient texts. Today, unfortunately, most of these beautiful trees are gone. The remainder are restricted to just 12 groves of trees covering 4,200 acres (1,700 hectares). The most famous of these surviving groves is that of the Bcharre Cedars in northern Lebanon, on the slopes of Jebel Makmel, a high, picturesque mountain that can be reached only via a spectacular drive through the Qadisha Valley. The Bcharre Cedars are ancient—some are as old as 3,000 years, contemporary with kings Hiram of Tyre and Solomon of Jerusalem—and they are called Arz Ar-rab, meaning "God's Cedars." They reach heights of 100 feet (30 meters), with huge trunks and gently spreading evergreen branches. The shape of each tree depends on the density of the stand. In higher densities the trees grow straighter, whereas in a low- density stand they develop lower horizontal branches that spread out far and wide.

Spring is the best time to visit the Bcharre Cedars, when the green trees are set against a white backdrop of snow. Because of the high altitude, the trees grow slowly and do not bear cones until they are 40 or 50 years old. The seeds germinate in late winter, when there is abundant moisture from rain or snowmelt.

The Cedars of Lebanon are said to be the most majestic of all evergreen trees. They are native to Lebanon, the Taurus Mountains of Syria, and southern Turkey. The trees were an important source of wealth for ancient Phoenicians, who exported the durable wood to Egypt and Palestine. The cedar wood was used to build boats, temples, and sarcophagi for the pharaohs. The tree resin was even used to treat toothache.

The forests were harvested far and wide for their natural wealth, despite the warnings of ancient scribes against their wanton destruction. Indeed, The Epic of Gilgamesh warns that the end of civilization will come if the cedar forests are destroyed. The area surrounding the cedars is Lebanon's last wild frontier; it has good hiking opportunities with striking views of the Lebanese mountain range.



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