A site of World Heritage and therefore ranked alongside Mount Everest and the Giant Redwoods of California for it's importance .
The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's top tourist attraction, and only World Heritage Site. A dramatic coastal landscape steeped in local mythology, the Causeway draws up to half a million visitors a year from around the world.
The Causeway consists of around 40,000 polygonal basalt columns, jutting out into the sea amid a spectacular coastal landscape of cliffs, headlands and crashing waves. Geologists explain that the Causeway was created during a period of volcanic activity some 60 million years ago. The famous columns were formed when lava cooled quickly upon flowing into the sea. The surrounding cliffs also demonstrate the many lava flows that have shaped the spectacular North Antrim landscape.
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Local folklore offers an alternative explanation for the Causeway's creation. The story goes that it was built by the Irish Giant Finn MacCool so that he could cross the Irish Sea to Scotland to challenge a rival giant, Benandoner. Finn is also credited with the creation of the Isle of Man, which is said to have been formed when he scooped a massive sod of earth to launch at his rival. The resulting hole filled with water to become Lough Neagh.
The wider Causeway area offers excellent opportunities for keen walkers. The Causeway Coast Path extends east for some 12 miles to the famous Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. Interpretative panels along the route provide information about the history, mythology and scientific interest of the area.
NEW VISITOR CENTRE NEWS:
The Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site is managed and cared for by the National Trust, Northern Ireland's largest conservation charity. The National Trust is currently undertaking a major project to develop world class visitor facilities at the Giant's Causeway at a cost of £18.5 million. The project is due to complete in summer 2012 but temporary visitor facilities have been established at the Causeway Hotel (adjacent to the site) while the new visitor centre is under construction. Temporary facilities include Craft & Souvenir shops, Tourist Information Centre, Bureau de Change and additional toilets and picnic tables. The shuttle bus to the Causeway stones continues to operate as normal every 15 minutes.
During the building works period, parking on site will be limited and visitors are advised to use the new Giant's Causeway Park and Ride service in the village of Bushmills.