Magharet Afqua

Mghâret Afqa - Afqa Cave

Useful Information

Location: Afqa. Beirut towards Jbail (Byblos), Qartaba exit between Jounie and Byblos. Through Qartaba and Mughaira to Afqa. 65 km from Beirut.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Magharet Afqua is a river cave and the resurgence of the Adonis river. During spring the melting water from the mountains makes the spring rise, and because of the water bringing a lot of red clay with it, it is called the Blood of Adonis. The Romans believed that this was the place where the legend of Aphrodite and Adonis had happened. After being wounded Adonis went to this cave to die, and since this time the water is coloured red every year.

The Dispute Of Persephone And Aphrodite Over Adonis
Aphrodite hid the newborn child, Adonis, in a chest, which she gave to Persephone, Queen of the nether world. But when Persephone opened the chest, she was beheld by the beauty of the baby, so she refused to give him back to Aphrodite. The goddess of love went down to the Underworld herself to ransom the baby Adonis from the power of the dead.
The dispute between the two Goddesses of love and death was settled by Zeus. He decreed that Adonis should abide with Persephone in the underworld for one part of the year, and with Aphrodite in the upper world for another part. When he stayed in the underworld, it was winter. When he returned, the Earth blossomed into spring and summer.

The Myth Of Aphrodite And Adonis
When Ares, the God of War and Aphrodite’s lover, heard that Aphrodite loves the youth Adonis, he got jealous and decided to take revenge.
Aphrodite was chasing Adonis to mate with him, but Adonis was more interested in hunting. Aphrodite begged Adonis to give up the dangerous sports he enjoyed because she could not bear to lose him, knowing that the young man would have a terrible end. Adonis ignored her advice and was killed while hunting by a wild boar, that was actually God Ares.
When Adonis died, Aphrodite heard his cries and hastened to his side in her swan-drawn chariot. She cursed the Fates and Ares that had ordained his death. With Adonis still in her arms, Aphrodite turned the blood drops that fell from his wounds onto the soil into windflowers (the short-lived anemone) as a memorial to their love.
Anemones sprung from the blood of Adonis and his spirit returned to the underworld. In response to the tearful goddess, Zeus determined that Adonis should stay just for the half of the year in the Underworld.

The cave is not developed, but it is possible to climb up on the left side of the river. It is a little difficult, so a little climbing experience and the right shoes are necessary. The road crosses the cave river right in front of the cave entrance and resurgence. But below the modern bridge is the remains of an ancient bridge which spans the river for some 2,000 years.