This is a post for history lovers, as Newgrange was constructed over 5,000 years ago, around 3200 BC. Thus, it is older than Stonehenge in England and the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Located in County Meath, it is less than 1 hour from Dublin city centre, the tomb was rediscovered in 1699 by workers who were looking for stones in the area and eventually found the entrance to the tomb, which was completely covered in dirt and grass.
The tomb of Newgrange is part of the historic complex of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth (this one is not open to visitors). This area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so firstly you should go to the Visitor Centre, Brú na Bóinne, where you can see a video about the history of the place and a display of objects found in the tombs and region before embarking on a mini bus to visit the tombs.
This is a fascinating and mysterious place and you wonder how they built such amazing work that survived all these thousands of years without them having the technological innovations of today. Archaeologists classified Newgrange as a tomb, but this place is much more than just a tomb, rather an ancient temple.
Newgrange occupies an area of over 1 acre and is composed of 97 large stones at its base, some of which are richly decorated with carved designs of spirals, lozenges and triangles.
When you enter through the tiny door and the narrow corridor to get to the main chamber, you realise this place is not just an old tomb, but a place that has been influence by astrology and perhaps something in the air of spiritual and religious. The positioning of Newgrange was influenced by the winter solstice, the phenomenon only happens once a year on December 21st when beams of sunlight penetrates the narrow corridor and illuminates the entire main chamber for 17 minutes, through a kind of skylight, which is above the main little door. The intention of the builders was to mark the beginning of the New Year and serve as a symbol of the victory of life over death.
Each year, the winter solstice phenomenon attracts much attention around the world and brings together thousands of visitors to the tomb. However, due to high demand and narrow space a lottery is held annually and the lucky ones get the extraordinary experience of waiting in the dark for the longest night of the year to end, as people used to do thousands of years ago. Of course, this can be an extremely rare phenomenon, as sunlight in the winter months can be a rare thing in Ireland. But don’t worry, you can see a simulation of the winter solstice. Visit Newgrange even with the simulated solstice, it is a fantastic experience.
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