The wonders of the Holy Land go beneath the ground and can be found in magical and magnificent hidden caves with dramatic stalactites. The Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve is located on the western slopes of the Judean Hills, not far from Bet Shemesh. Here you can enjoy the natural beauty both above the ground and in the underground caves. The caves are protected and open to tourists who can visit independently or as part of a private tour. There is an observation area where you can look out across the nature reserve and towards the Judea plain across the city of Bet Shemesh. If you look directly down, you can see the quarry where explosions exposed the caves in 1968. An additional observation area is situated at the entrance to the cave and provides an overview of the cavernous grottoes. From the observation area at the cave opening, you can see the stalactites and stalagmites illuminated within the cave. For the best view of the stalactites, you can enter the cave and follow a market visitors route through the cave.
The Creation of Stalactites and Stalagmites in Israel's Stalactite Cave
The stalactites (originating on the ceiling of the cave) and stalagmites (originating on the floor of the cave) were created over thousands of years as rainwater permeated through carbon dioxide-rich soil resulting in water containing a high concentration of calcium bicarbonate slowly dripping on the rock causing calcite shapes from the ceiling. The drops that land on the floor of the cave, continually drip on the same spot creating stalagmites, growing upwards.
The Most Interesting Stalactites in the Stalactite Nature Reserve
On your walk through the cave, you'll see the landscape of stalactites and stalagmites illuminated by dramatic, colorful lighting sparking the imagination. The lights emphasize the various shapes and natural formations created by thousands of years of slow-dripping subterranean water. Among the most famous stalactite shapes in the cave are the pillar, which resembles a column; the macaroni field; Romeo and Juliette – a stalactite and stalagmite that almost touch at their tips, as if trying to kiss but not quite making it; Snow White and the seven dwarfs; the grandfather and the sculpture garden. Perhaps the best known of the natural formations within the cave are the elephant's ears.