The Giant's Causeway on the north coast of Northern Ireland impresses with its breathtakingly symmetrical stone pillars, formed in a completely natural way by volcanic activity.
The Giant's Causeway is located in Northern Ireland on the north coast of County Antrim, about 80 kilometers from Belfast. The unique natural phenomenon is called the Eighth Wonder of the World by the Irish and is on our list of the top 10 sights of Great Britain. It also finds mention among our Top 10 Sights of Ireland. Since 1986, the Giant's Causeway has been the first site on the island of Ireland to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Giant's Causeway is a breathtaking freak of nature that was formed about 60 million years ago. Over a length of 5 kilometres, some 40,000 absolutely uniformly shaped basalt columns stretch along the coast of Northern Ireland into the sea. Anyone who sees these columns will not believe at first that nature has created this spectacular structure without human intervention.
The four- to octagonal pillars stand side by side like building blocks, their surface measuring about 30cm. Some of them are up to 12m high and the entire rock layer is up to 25m thick. Constantly washed by the waves of the sea, this testimony to prehistoric times is a truly unforgettable sight. The Giant's Causeway has become one of the most visited sights in Northern Ireland.
Legend: The Dam of Fionn mac Cumhaill
According to Irish legend, the Giant's Causeway was built by the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill. After being insulted by his Scottish adversary Benandonner, he decided to build a way across the sea into neighbouring Scotland to challenge his enemy to battle. Benandonner did not want to lose face and followed Fionn mac Curhill's call to Ireland. However, the Irish giant was so exhausted from building the dam that he had to stall Benandonner with a list. Disguised as a baby, he told his wife to tell Benandonner that he would soon be here. But when Benandonner saw the giant baby and then also imagined the incredible size of the father, his courage left him. He fled headlong back to Scotland and destroyed the dam behind him so that the terrible Fionn would never be able to follow him again. And indeed, a very similar stone phenomenon is also found on the Hebridean island of Staffa off the coast of Scotland.
Discovery of the Giant's Causeway
When the Giant's Causeway was first presented to the Royal Society in 1693 by a student from Trinity College in Dublin, there was great amazement. Draughtsmen were sent to the site to capture this unique phenomenon in pictures, and disputes arose as to whether these structures were not, after all, created by man or a giant, or actually by nature. In 1771, a French scientist explained the actual origin of the imposing columns as volcanic activity.
In fact, the symmetrical stones were formed from molten lava, which cooled very slowly and evenly and thus formed the vertical surfaces. In the process, bizarre shapes have crystallised, bearing significant names such as "horseshoe", "giant organ" or "fan". The most impressive sculpture is the amphitheatre, whose huge blocks are reminiscent of the seats of an ancient round theatre. The volcano that once gave rise to the spectacular columns is no longer there.
There is paid parking, refreshments, maps and audio guides at the visitor centre. If you only want to visit the Giant's Causeway itself without using the tourist facilities (no parking either!) you don't have to pay anything.