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The Grotto of Beni Aad; An Underground Wonder

   The Grotto of Beni Aad is an underground hydrological system that is, according to specialists, the largest underground cavernous network known in Algeria ,which is located in the Tlemcen National Park in the municipality of Ain Fezza ;about 10 kilometers from the city of Tlemcen ( the Algerian West ). It was discovered by Berbers; it is dated back around 65,000 years. Such cave was served for some time as a warehouse for farmers in the region for the preservation of their products, including potatoes, onions, tomatoes and fruits. According to some sources, it was used too by the Mujahideen (Algerian martyrs) as a refuge during the National Liberation War before the colonial army realized it and blocked the path. This grotto was closed during the black decade and it was reopened to the public in July 2006, after its restoration.

   The Grotto of Beni Aad or “les Grottes de Beni Aad” goes as deep as 57 meters and keeps very cool temperatures throughout the year (around 13 degrees). Besides the freshness that provides inside, this fairy site reveals remarkable charm and legendary beauty with a gallery and several well-appointed rooms with adequate lighting .This natural site hides a vast treasure of interesting mineral formations with differently shaped minerals protruding from the ceiling, floor, and all the walls..The calcareous concretions draw stalactites and stalagmites with the most varied forms and of all beauty; an extreme elegance of the natural drawings of animals, vegetables and fruits of the mixtures between stalactites and stalagmites.

   In addition to its terrific and picturesque view inside, we notice a magnificent view of the mountains outside with high cliffs bordering a deep ravine by the Mefrouch River, name given to the dam overlooking the town of Tlemcen. The pink and red escarpments of the river gave birth to the famous waterfalls of El Ourit. The winding road that climbs to the caves offers, for its part, beautiful landscapes to the plains of Ouled Mimoun (33 km from Tlemcen). 

   Apart from its natural beauty, this wonderful site have not been accompanied by nearby infrastructures such as a hotels, restaurants or cafes, despite the cultural and tourist importance that this site represents, there are just few shops selling some souvenirs of the region.

   The visit inside requires one hour or more depending on your appreciation of the place. The opening hours are from 8.30 am to 12.00 am and from 13h00 pm to 17h30 pm during all the week.

Written by ARAB Sabrina

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