I have always heard that the real Ireland is outside Dublin. It is true that in the capital of this beautiful country we can find many typical aspects of Irish culture, such as its beautiful traditional music, its appetizing gastronomy, its fun parties and customs, and its rich legacy with hundreds of years of history.However, if we really want to know the best kept secrets of the mysterious Celtic culture, in my opinion, we must go out and discover them.
60 kilometers from the Viking city of Dublin, in county Meath, we can find one of the greatest heritage sites in Ireland and indeed in the world. A magical place, full of history and wisdom that has seen the passage of time and that still stands, unblemished, as if it its first day. I am talking about Newgrange, an archaeological site more than 5,000 years years old, older than the famous Stonehenge in England, and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.
This place, hidden for more than 4000 years after it was discovered in the XVII century, is a tomb inside an enormous circular construction in the middle of the beautiful land of Brú na Bóinneen or Palace of the Boyne. The walls are covered with Celtic drawings which depict eternal life, so we assume it was a place where rituals related to life and death were performed. Through the narrow door and corridor we can access the amazing chamber, which is in the shape of a cross.
We don’t really know who built this monument or why but what is clear is that the place was made by a civilization with a great knowledge of art and engineering. In fact, during the winter solstice we can witness a spectacular event: the sunlight penetrates through the door, illuminating the whole chamber which remains in the shadows the rest of the year. It is astounding!
Unfortunately, to attend this amazing phenomenon it is not enough to pay for the ticket on that day. You need to participate in a raffle where thousands of applicants join at the same time. If you are lucky, you can see it in real life! Nonetheless, every day there is a simulation of the episode with artificial light very similar to the real one that every visitor can enjoy.
To visit Newgrange you need to start in the visitor center where you can buy the ticket (adult 7€, students 4€) which includes the bus fare and a guided tour. Otherwise, you can also book an excursion directly from Dublin city.