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Game of Thrones Dark Hedges in Antrim voted one of world's most beautiful places

By Ivan Little

The famous Dark Hedges in Co Antrim, which have become a major tourist attraction for thousands of Game of Thrones fans, have just been voted one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The prestigious Architectural Digest magazine, which is published in America, has placed the Hedges at number seven in its top 10 of the most beautiful streets on the planet - ahead of the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Last year the Hedges, on the Bregagh Road near Ballymoney, were included in a list of the 12 best road trips in the UK and Ireland by www.continentalroadtrip.com

And this iconic avenue of Beech trees was also chosen as one of the world's 'enchanting' spots by Culture Trip, which calls itself the biggest culture website in the world.

In the citation, Culture Trip said the Dark Hedges were scenic and atmospheric, but advised the "easily spooked" to give the Bregagh Road a wide berth "because legend has it that it is home to an otherworldly resident, a spectral grey lady said to glide between the trees at dusk".

The stunning tunnel of trees along the Bregagh Road was planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family, owners of the Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.

It was designed to impress the Stuarts' visitors as they approached their estate.

The Dark Hedges, which have long been one of the most photographed attractions in Northern Ireland, were propelled to even greater fame by HBO's cult television series, Game of Thrones. The trees represented the King's Road in the first episode of the second season of Thrones, as Arya Stark, who had escaped from King's Landing disguised as a boy, travelled through the Hedges with other characters to join the Night's Watch. And ever since, the Dark Hedges have proved to be a magnet for followers of the series from right around the world, including Japan, China, America and Scandinavia.

Earlier this year it was revealed the trees were at risk from the increased flow of visitors and cars.

Transport NI said it was in talks with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council about introducing a new traffic management system on the Bregagh Road. Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard told the Assembly that among the measures under consideration were better parking provision and a footpath.

He also said that a total ban on vehicles was also a possibility, as a means of ensuring that the Dark Hedges received special protection.

A number of the iconic trees were blown down earlier this year in storms.

The wood from two of the trees that fell in January has been used for carvings for 10 intricately-designed doors fitted in pubs and hotels, each one telling the story of an episode in season six of Game of Thrones.

The 10 establishments are all close to filming locations from the series.

The top 10 in the Architectural Digest poll are:

  •  The Caminito in Buenos Aires’s La Boca district in Argentina
  •  Lombard Street with its hairpin bends in San Francisco
  •  The streets of Chefchaouen, Morocco
  •  The vine covered streets of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
  •  The streets in 1,000-year-old town of Lijiang, China
  •  Cherry Blossom Avenue in Bonn, Germany
  •  The Dark Hedges in Co Antrim
  •  The Champs-Elysees, Paris (left)
  •  The Brouwersgracht, Amsterdam
  •   The streets of Agueda in Portugal

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