Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre
August - September 2012 |
It was molten lava, cooled into 40,000 flawless hexagonals of dark stone steps 60 million years ago, which resulted in the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site on the North Antrim coast. The curious assembly of basalt columns seems so perfect it’s no wonder the Causeway spanned such an enduring myth.
Legend has it that Celtic warrior Finn MacCool built the basalt highway to Scotland to fight rival giant Benandonner. Finn’s first glimpse of the enormous Scot gave him second thoughts however, and he ran back to Ireland ripping up the highway behind him. Still shrouded in mist and legend after all these years, the Giant’s Causeway is as much a magical marvel as a geography lesson.
This year, the Causeway is set to finally get a visitor experience equal in scale and majesty to its natural wonders. The £18.5 million project includes enhanced walking trails around the surrounding coastline, on-site orientation and information points, world-class interpretation, a gift shop and new tearooms.
The structure itself was designed by Dublin-based architects Heneghan Peng and will be set into the ground to reduce the risk imposing on the natural area. It aims to be hidden from view by using a roof of grass as camouflage.
The opening merits a celebration, of course, so a suitably ‘Giant’ art installation by a major artist is in store, with further details to be announced soon.
Operated by the National Trust, the Giant’s Causeway is open all year round. The cliff path makes for dramatic wind-whipped views of the Causeway along the rest of the serrated coastline. Formations from the same peculiar-shaped rock family can be seen along the way, including the 12 metre Organ Pipes and Chimney Pipes.
The coastal path extends for 11 miles and eventually leads to another famous attraction: the vertigo-inducing Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.