On my way to, and from, the Jeita Grotto, I had the opportunity to visit another famous and, at least to me, quite a moving site. It’s the enormous statue of the Virgin Mary, perched 650m high up on a mountain near Jounieh, facing the sea and Beirut. Her sad face and outstretched hands are somehow reminders of what the country at her feet suffered during 15 years of civil war, which had not ended that long ago.
Our Lady of Lebanon is a pilgrimage site, a 50-foot bronze statue painted white is approximately 20km north of Beirut.
Access to the statue is by a cable car, called teleferique. My cable car ride was an adventure all by itself. Sometimes, the little car, which doesn’t hold more than 4 passengers, is so close to the ground, because the mountainside is so steep, that I expected to hear the car scraping against the mountain at any moment. However, I had nothing to fear as it passed over rocks and other obstacles without a hitch!
Because of the spectacular views, there are quite a few apartment blocks developed up the mountain and the cable car passes so close to them that, with a bit of effort, I could have snatched a towel or two from people’s terraces.
Once at the top, I climbed up to the gallery surrounding the head of the statue and wandered around at the base, admiring some real Cedar trees and learned about the history from various explanation boards put up around the perimeter of the site.
Visitors can either return by way of a very steep and narrow road to Jounieh or by the same cable car, which I much preferred, because of the unobstructed views of Beirut, the port and the sea beyond.
Inka is German and used to be an international attorney with offices in London and Spain. Retired two years ago because I wanted to be a traveler and writer and now live between Didim/Turkey and Miami with plenty of travel in between. Next destinations: Istanbul, New York and Petra/Jordan.