Is it a Pagan Temple or a meeting place of a secret cult? Nobody could explain how, why and who built this amazing place. Curious visitors from all over the world visit Shell Grotto to be intrigued by the beautiful mosaics and the unsolved mystery. Shell Grotto is a unique 70-foot underground winding passageway in Margate, Kent. The walls and roofs are covered in mystical designs laid out in mosaics made entirely of seashells. Some of the motifs even resemble ancient Indian and Egyptian designs.
A Margate local, James Newlove, in the year 1835, had accidentally located a hole in the ground, while he and his son were digging a duck pond. To find out more about this hole, Newlove lowered his son into the hole. When he pulled out his son, he was excited about the discovery he had made. His son had seen an underground tunnel that was beautifully decorated with seashell mosaics. To facilitate access to the cave a horizontal access was dug and the grotto was first opened to the public in 1837. The dark corridors were lit by gas lamps. This tunnel was soon transformed into a place where people could visit and absorb the mystery.
What makes the shell grotto of Margate so mysterious is that there is nothing known about it - when was it built, by whom or for what purpose. A fish based mortar has been used to glue the shells to this tunnel. The tunnel is decorated with close to 4.6 million shells, spread over 21 meters in length (over 600 m2) mosaic of shells, decorate each piece of the wall and ceiling of the grotto.
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