Giant’s Causeway – The most popular tourist site in Northern Ireland

Image Credit:Ty/Flickr

Image Credit:Ty/Flickr

Since the beginning of the 18th Century, visitors flock to the coast of Northern Ireland to admire this bizarre landscape in the area of Antrim. Before science and technology could offer an explanation for how the site appeared beautiful myths and stories made the place even more appealing. In 1986 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site and in 1987 it was made widely known by the Royal Geographic Society and the stream of visitors has grown exponentially.

Around 40,000 interconnected basalt columns spread over a 0.7 square km area can be found on the site. The columns are made from volcanic lava and probably originated about 60 million years ago. The birth of the geological formation is almost as interesting as the myths about its appearance. In the early Tertiary, Paleocene period, where slow and quiet days passed by the Antrim County was ravaged by an intense volcanic activity. Incandescent basalt rocks gradually leaked through cracks in sedimentary formations and formed a vast plateau of lava, which constitutes the entire coastline Causeway. How fast the lava cooled down determined the size of the columns.

Image Credit: artjom83/Flickr

Image Credit: artjom83/Flickr

Weather and seasons passing have rounded some of the columns and the locals named them “The Eyes of the Giants”. Other suggestive names Shepherd’s Steps, the Honeycomb, the Giant’s Harp, the Chimney Stacks, the Giant’s Gate and the Camel’s Hump.

Image Credit: artjom83/Flickr

Image Credit: artjom83/Flickr

Stories about the origin of the basalt columns have been around since time immemorial. In the myths of Ireland it is said that the giant Finn MacCool created the step-shaped basalt stairs to get dry footed from Ireland to Scotland and reach his Scottish rival Benandonner.

Image Credit: Ty/Flickr

Image Credit: Ty/Flickr

Image Credit: Rob Peters/Flickr

Image Credit: Rob Peters/Flickr

An average of 500.000 visitors a year determined the Irish National Trust to build a new visitors center in 2013.

Image Credit: artjom83/Flickr

Image Credit: artjom83/Flickr

Image by Greg Sinclair

Image by Greg Sinclair

Location: Antrim, Northern Ireland

One Response
  1. February 4, 2014

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