The Giant’s Causeway is one of the world’s most amazing rock formations. Made up of tens of thousands of basalt columns, many of which form perfect geometric shapes, the causeway is steeped in Celtic legends. It is also hands down one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The large collection of odd basalt columns was almost certainly known to ancient Celtic peoples prior to its ‘discovery’ in 1693. According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway or bridge that once stretched to Scotland (a similar collection of basalt columns can be found near Fingal’s Cave there). In this story the causeway was constructed by folk hero Fionn mac Cumhaill. The columns were more thoroughly explored in the 18th century, when it became a popular destination for visitors.
The Giant’s Causeway consists of as many as forty thousand basalt columns that were formed over fifty million years ago in the wake of a cooling volcanic eruption. Most of the columns fit closely together with other columns in nearly perfect hexagonal patterns, though other shapes are also evident. The columns are relatively level in some places, pyramidal in others, with lots of odd shapes in between.
The Giant’s Causeway is a major destination for visitors to Northern Ireland, and is especially popular at sunrise and sunset. There is a brand new visitor’s center at the site which is run by the National Trust. Web: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway (official website).