Must Visit Place in Dinant: Grotte La Merveilleuse (Marvelous Caves)

Posted: December 4, 2014 by randommuzings in Belgium, Europe
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This place is not to be missed at Dinant, although most people tend to not visit the same as it not really much talked about and also it is located on the other side of the river of the major attractions. Also if viewed from outside the little shed doesn’t look too promising but you will be in for a surprise the moment you step underground. The caves are only 500m from Dinant railway station and the guided tours are 50 to 60 minutes long in French, English and Dutch.

For me these caves hold special significance as I finally got to photograph interesting limestone formations that had caught my fancy since I had visited the Dark caves at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last year but had not been able to click them due to no lighting (only torchlight) so as to not disturb the wildlife. The caves at Dinant were well-lit, although the shots would have been had I been carrying a tripod.

Limestone Formations (Speleothems)

Stalactites: The formations that hang from the ceiling of cave;

Stalagmites: The formations built up above the floor of a cave;

Flowstone: sheet-like, layered deposits on the walls or floors.

Column: formed when a stalactite and a stalagmite join each other

Oblique Stalactite: A rare formation when a Stalactite during formation takes a slight turn from the perpendicular and hence doesn’t join to form a column with the Stalagmite below. The 1 Oblique Stactite (which as per our guide is the tallest in Europe) is the main highlight of these caves and has been formed due to the wind in that part of the tunnel.

About Grotte La Merveilleuse (The Wonderful Cave)

The caves were discovered in 1904 and opened to the public in 1905. The caves were used as a shelter during World War II and as per our guide have been the shooting location for many Hollywood movies, although I don’t remember the names now.

Temperature inside the caves is 10 to 12 degree Celsius throughout the year and hence bats reside during winters but when I visited in autumn when the outside temperature was higher than that there were no bats inside.

The caves go to a depth of 40 meters underground, divided into 3 zones and the size of the caves keeps increasing as we move down. Up to 30m is accessible to public, the last 10m is still under water (River Meuse).


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