For decades, visitors have marvelled at the mystery and magnificence of the Giant’s Causeway. Located in Antrim, Northern Ireland, this tourist attraction borders the North Atlantic Ocean. It is filled with dramatic cliffs that have inspired artists and stirred scientists. The Giant’s Causeway was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 and named a national nature reserve by Northern Ireland’s Environment Department the year after.
The site’s unique stone formations have stood the test of both time and the ferocious waves of the Atlantic Ocean. These rock columns are hexagonal, some as tall as 12 metres, and measure 28 metres thick in some places. Much of the Giant’s Causeway is managed by the National Trust. A Visitor Centre was opened in 2012 to enrich the tourist experience.
According to Gaelic mythology, giants played a primary role in building the Causeway. Legend has it that an Irish giant by the name of Finn was challenged to a duel by a Scottish counterpart, Benandonner. In accepting the challenge, Finn built the causeway to serve as the grounds for the fight. One version of the story has Finn winning the battle, while another gives a different perspective. When Finn realises his opponent is bigger, he disguises as a baby (with help from his wife), which causes Benandonner to flee when he sees the size of the baby, reckoning the child’s father must be even bigger. His retreat to Scotland is believed to have destroyed the causeway.
Touring the Area
The Visitor Centre caters to more than half a million tourists who visit annually. There are Tourist Information offices, a Souvenir shop, an Accommodation Booking service, Bureau de Change, and a café. A bus service runs from the Centre to the Causeway, ferrying visitors to and from the site and the range of amenities established to make the experience an enjoyable one. For many tourists who enjoy the history of the British Isles, including Fiyaz Mughal, the Centre has useful facilities that make navigation easier.
No trip is complete without experiencing a few must-sees, many of them borrowing their identity from Gaelic folklore. The Grand Causeway is the largest of the rock structures that form the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Boot, believed to be left behind by Finn as he fled his Scottish adversary, is Port Noffer’s most famous feature. Then there’s the Wishing Chair, a perfectly-arranged set of columns that form a natural throne. Shepherd’s Steps, a collection of 167 sharp steps, offer an excellent view of the clifftop and are best experienced when descending. Lastly, there’s The Camel; a stone figure resembling a camel believed to be the only creature capable of carrying Finn home. The feature lies at the bottom of the cliffs.