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Shell Grotto

For something a little more diverting than decks chairs and sand.

Margate is not famed for a great deal more than its sandy beach and popularity in the hotter months. It's not a place that rings of class if truth be told and clearly enjoys having its roots in the tackier "end of the pier" style of amusements. It is however not without some unique cerebral charms. It may not be well known to you but its Shell-Grotto is a place that attracts visitors from all over the world and is without doubt a curious oddity of a place.

Discovered in the 18th Century this grotto is essentially a near vertical cave (blessed with steps ) and goes some feet in the earth's core. Its serpentine stairs leads you for about 20 or 30 feet down a narrow corridor leading to an alter room that has a vaguely biblical air to it. It's dark and gloomy, straight out of Lord of the Rings, spooky even but beautifully decorated in over a millions shells depicting simple star, planetary shapes and plants It's a curious oddity because it has everyone, from renowned geologists to historians clueless as to what it's for and who built it. Literally the modern academia has no clue as to what it was for, and why decorated in this way? Certainly not smugglers. When you enter the visitor centre the wall literature tells you its possible premises - Pagan religious ceremonies, perhaps some darkened forgotten cult, there is even a reference to the "Knights Templar" (of "The Da Vinci Code" fame) but the reality is - it is what it is and science knows no more than that.

Definitely not worth traveling to see on its own as the experience if over in less than 10 minutes - but if you are heading that way and have £8 to spare (that's a family ticket BTW) then you would be experiencing something that is largely unchanged in over a 1000 years (for this is where the geologist have been able to date it from) and it is a welcome distraction of the mayhem on the beach.

Postcode: CT9 2BU
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