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County Antrim

Main attractions

Glenariff Glen scenery, Northern Ireland
Glenariff Glen scenery / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Highlights of County Antrim are:

  • The countless natural and historical landmarks in Glens - nine large valleys opening to the sea. Here one can see waterfalls, megaliths, old castles, meadows and forests rich with flowers, sites of fairy and ghost legends and nearly every other kind of landmarks.
  • Sea coast formations - Giant's Causeway may be the best known landmark of Northern Ireland, but there are numerous other interesting geological formations at sea coast - sea stacks, caves, natural arches.
  • Belfast - the metropolis of Northern Ireland has its share of interesting monuments of architecture and history.

Natural landmarks

Caves

Antrim has numerous amazing, large and gloomy caves formed in the rugged sea cliffs and often very hard to access.

  • Bruce's Cave - Rathlin island. Enormous seaside cave, approximately 140 m long, 22 m high.
  • Cathedral Cave - seaside cave, some 90 m long, at least 25 m high at the entrance.
  • Dunkerry Grand Cave - one of the most impressive sea caves in Ireland, approximately 30 m high and 27 m wide, depth unknown.
  • Portbraddan Cave - seaside cave in basalt, contains remnants of prehistoric habitation by Mesolithic people.
  • Portcoon Cave - impressive and eerie sea cave next to Giant's Causeway, some 140 m long, at least 35 m high.
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Giant's Causeway / , user Patrice78500/ public domain

Other natural monuments

  • Cranny Falls - tall, spectacular waterfall in ravine.
  • Giant’s Causeway - area of outstanding natural beauty, with some 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Tops of these columns form natural stepping stones leading into the sea.
  • Glenariff Falls - group of picturesque waterfalls.
  • Great Arch near Portrush - beautiful natural arch, formed by the sea wave action in white limestone.
  • Loughareema - vanishing lake, site of ghost stories. Water of this lake often disappears, leaving a wet muddy flat.

Man made landmarks

Ancient burials

  • Antynanum Court Tomb - unusual ancient burial: some 60 m long, very narrow cairn.
  • Ballylumford Dolmen - dolmen, built around 2000 BC, possible remnant of a passage grave.
  • Carnanmore passage grave - comparatively well preserved passage grave, which includes a decorated stone with pocked rings, carving of serpent, cupmarks.
  • Craigs Dolmen - remnant of a passage grave – enormous capstone placed on seven upright stones.
  • Dooey'Cairn in Ballymacaldrack - impressive ancient burial complex. Consists of U-shaped forecourt made of standing stones, burial chamber and passage with three circular pits, all together - about 21 m long.
  • Giant’s Ring in Belfast - henge – a circular enclosure, where the bank is up to 3.5 m high, diameter – 180 m. A megalithic passage grave inside.
  • Oisín’s Grave - megalithic monument, burial cairn from 4000 BC. In popular legends considered to be a grave of Oisín - Celtic warrior and bard who lived around 300 AD.

Other prehistoric monuments

The Linford Barrows, Northern Ireland
The Linford Barrows / , Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Altagore Cashel - best preserved ancient fortification - drystone ringwall.
  • Doagh Holestone - less than 1.5 m tall standing stone with an artificially made hole in it. Most likely this monument is made for some pagan rituals.
  • The Linford Barrows - mysterious earthworks of unknown age. Two circular mounds (13 and 16 m diameter) surrounded by deep ditch and higher outer bank - similar to large stamps pressed in earth.

Monuments of early Christianity

  • Antrim Round Tower and Antrim Bullaun Stone - remnants of ancient monastic settlement. Round tower is built around the 10th century AD and served as bell tower and fortification. It is 28 m tall. Burned and abandoned in 1147.
  • Armoy Round Tower - medieval round tower in the site of early Christian monastery, established around 460 AD. Top of the tower has been lost, now remains a 10.4 m tall base part./
  • Layde Church (The Layd) - ruins of a church. Church was last built here in the 17th century, but the site has very long history. Two Celtic crosses - including Cross Na Nagan - pagan holestone "Christianized" into Celtic cross. Ghost stories.

Castles

Carrickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus Castle / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Carrickfergus Castle - one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland, built in 1177 by Normans, since 1210 – English castle. Castle has not been abandoned and as aresult represents valuable monument of architecture and history. For most part surrounded by water.
  • Castle Upton - castle in the centre of a village, with impressive tower house built in 1611.
  • Dalway's Bawn - late medieval fortification, the best preserved so called "Bawns and Flanker Towers". Built in 1609, consists of quadrangular fortified enclosure with three round towers.
  • Dunluce Castle - magnificent castle ruins on a promontory, overlooking the sea, accessible via a bridge. Currently visible structures built in the early 16th century. Abandoned as the sea is washing out the cliff. Ghost stories.
  • Dunseverick Castle - ruins of very old castle on a promontory, towering above the sea. Saint Patrick visited the castle in the 5th century AD, important historial events have taken place here also in later times. Demolished in the 1650s.
  • Glenarm Castle - exquisite castle, built in the site of older castle in 1636 in Jacobean style, rebuilt in the late 18th century in Palladian style.

Country houses

  • Ballygally Castle - fortified, massive country house built in 1625, reportedly one of the most haunted places in the province.
  • Belfast Castle - massive stately home, built in Scottish Baronial style in 1862 – 1870 in a hill above Belfast. The building resembles a medieval castle.
  • Dundarave House - large country house, built in 1846.
  • Hillsborough Castle - stately home, built in the 18th century in Georgian style. Now - government residence.

Buildings in Belfast

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Belfast is the metropolis of Northern Ireland and has many interesting and impressive buildings.

  • Albert Memorial Clock - impressive, 34.4 m tall clock tower, built in 1869 in Neo-Gothic style. Tower is leaning.
  • Belfast City Hall - enormous Neo-Baroque civic building. Constructed in 1898 – 1906. Copper plated cupole in the centre of the building is 53 m high. Adorned with numerous sculptural works.
  • Belfast Grand Opera House - beautiful theatre house, built in 1895. Oriental style used in architecture.
  • Crown Liquor Saloon - beautiful Victorian gin palace, refurbished in 1885. Very ornate interior.
  • Main building of Belfast Queen’s College - impressive Neo-Gothic structure, constructed in 1849.
  • Merchant Hotel - luxurious hotel building, constructed in the middle of the 19th century.
  • Saint Malachy’s Church - Neo-Gothic church building, constructed in 1841 – 1844. Especially impressive are fan vaults on the ceiling.
  • The Palm House of Belfast Botanic Gardens - one of the oldest curvilinear cast iron glasshouses in the world, built in 1840. Plant house contains many unique plants including 400 years old Xanthorrhoea from Australia.

Other man-made landmarks

  • Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge - unusual rope suspension bridge leading to Carrick island. 20 m long pedestrian bridge, 30 m above the ground. Bridge exists here for some 350 years, but it is often rebuilt.
  • Carrickfergus town walls - Walls around Carrickfergus town were built in the early 17th century. Now only small parts remain.
  • Tieveragh Hill and Lurigethan Hill - two legendary fairy sites, still revered by locals and considered to have frequent supernatural sightings.

List of described attractions

ArrowCranny FallsWaterfalls

Map of County Antrim

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