Along the stunning coast of Antrim, one hour drive from Belfast in Northern Ireland, stands one of my favourite places: the Giant’s Causeway. Its 40.000 basalt columns and dramatic cliffs have been challenging the wild North Atlantic Ocean for more than 5o Million years. The tallest columns can reach about 12 meters ( 39 ft) high. Across the sea, in Scotland, there are identical basalt formations created by the same lava flow: the Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa.
The legend of the Giant’s Causeway: the giants fight
This natural wonder created by volcanic activity inspired a legend. According to Gaelic mythology, the rocks are the last remains of a causeway built by Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) to cross the cold waters of the North Channel and fight the Scottish giant Benandonne. As soon as Fionn arrived in Scotland, he realised how terrifyingly massive his rival was and suddenly retreated, followed by Benandonne.
Fionn had only one desperate way to win the fight and save Ireland: disguise as a baby. When the angry Scottish giant saw the ‘baby’ decided that if the child was that big, the father must be a giant among giants. In fright, he ran back to Scotland destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow.
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Despite the scientific explanation, it was easy to imagine titans and legendary fights while sitting on one of the perfecty shaped hexagonal rocks, looking at the sun setting on the water.
Tip: for a bird’s eye view of the causeway coast, climb the Shepherd’s Steps and hike along the cliff-top trail.
Giant’s Causeway has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and a national nature reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
Info to visit the Giant’s Causeway
Stones and coastal path open daily from dawn until dusk.
The opening hours varies according to the seasons, you can find the updated opening hours on the National Trust official website. Prices: 12.50 £ adult, 6.25 £ child
Pre-purchase and save: visit giantscausewaytickets.com and save £1.50 on adult admission, 75p on child admission and £3.75 on family admission.
The easiest way to get to the Giant’s Causeway is by car, but there is also a public transport service stopping just a few meters from the visitor center. The lines available are Ulsterbus Service 172, Goldline Service 221, Causeway Rambler Service 402, Open Top Causeway Coast Service 177 e Antrim Coaster Service 252.