Belfast Telegraph

Giant's Causeway one of the world's top 20 beauty spots

By Linda Stewart

The Giant's Causeway has been named one of the planet's most scenic world heritage places.

Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site - and its most popular tourist attraction - was ranked at six in the list of the 20 most beautiful Unesco World Heritage Sites by internationally recognised Condé Nast Traveller magazine.

The spectacular north coast rock formation has beaten off competition from famous sites such as the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Machu Picchu in Peru, Dubrovnik Old City and the Kasbah at Algiers.

Describing the World Heritage Site, Condé Nast said: "The studded beach known as Giant's Causeway is made up of polygonal columns of basalt protruding from the coast and water.

"They were caused by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, but one local legend claims that the columns were carved by a giant named Finn McCool (hence the name)."

Max Bryant, general manager for the National Trust on the north coast, said: "We are very proud that the Giant's Causeway has been included in the top 20 most beautiful World Heritage Sites.

"Last year we welcomed more than 750,000 visitors from across the world to experience the famous basalt stone columns and to follow in the legendary footsteps of our giant, Finn McCool.

"Even though it's January, we are also seeing lots of local visitors travel to the north coast for a refreshing winter walk and dramatic coastal views."

The Condé Nast list sets the Giant's Causeway alongside sites such as St Kilda, Scotland; Amsterdam's Canal District; Angkor, Cambodia; The Galapagos Islands; Bryggen, Norway; Halong Bay, Vietnam; Wulingyuan in China's Hunan Province; the Rock Islands in the Pacific, and the Taj Mahal in India.

"This ranking by world renowned Condé Nast magazine is also great for the wider tourism economy in Northern Ireland, profiling our attractions on a huge international stage," Mr Bryant said.

The Causeway stars in a new Tourism Ireland advert showcasing Northern Ireland's hot spots to a world audience.

The campaign video is being screened to almost two-dozen countries, including the US, China and India.

Factfile

In 2013, Unesco called for a halt to a planned £100m golf resort close to the Giant's Causeway, warning it could "create an irreversible change of landscape character". Then Environment Minister Alex Attwood granted planning permission to the Runkerry development which included a hotel, 18-hole course and 70 golf lodges. The land has now changed hands but planning permission is still in place.

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