A mysterious UNESCO World Heritage Site built around 3200 BC
Older than England’s Stonehenge and Egypt’s mighty pyramids
Winter Solstice Lottery awards 50 tickets to the greatest show on earth
The astronomical spectacle of the Winter Solstice holds a special significance for one particular county in Ireland. Meath — affectionately known by its nickname, The Royal County, due to its historical importance as the seat of Ireland’s High King — today plays host to arguably the greatest show on earth. It’s a primal extravaganza that has played out each and every December since 3200 BC.
In or around December 21st of every year, 50 lucky Winter Solstice Lottery winners are each accompanied by a guest of honor inside the ancient monument. The chosen few have the unique privilege to witness the rising sun illuminate the inner chamber and its Neolithic carvings. The revered event is all over bar the shouting inside a magical 17 minutes. However, it remains a phenomenon that mystifies, inspires and captures the primordial imagination of mankind like no other.
Newgrange Passage Tomb hosts a spectacle like no other on earth every December 21st
So what exactly was the significance of constructing this man-made monument to the skies?
Observing the carvings and artwork, many speculate that it was a shrine to an ancient Irish deity or Celtic religion. However, the site actually predates the arrival of the Celts in Ireland by some 2,500 years. Whatever the motivations of the pious engineers of Newgrange, it remains one of Ireland’s greatest historical treasures and tourist attractions to this day.
Watch this short video courtesy of National Geographic to get a sneak peek at the magic of Newgrange.