Ever wondered what secrets lay behind the greatest landscapes in the world? From the huge basalt columns of Ireland to Halong Bay in Vietnam and even the Three Sisters down under, here are the myths and legends that have sprung up around the world’s most famous landscapes:
Giant’s Causeway, Ireland
A long-ago volcanic eruption apparently caused the basalt columns of Ireland that are known as the Giant’s Causeway. But legend has it that the causeway was actually built by a giant, Finn McCool, so that he could meet and fight another giant from Scotland.
But instead of an all-out fight, Finn’s wife disguised him as a baby and presented him to the Scottish giant, who assumed that if the baby was so huge, the father must’ve been bigger! The Scotsman fled back across the bridge, destroying it in his wake – which is why the columns exist on both sides of the border.
Perhaps one of the most alluring landscape legends of today’s times is that of Stonehenge. One myth reveals the story of the King, who wished to create a monument for his fallen soldiers. His wizard, Merlin, suggested they steal the ring of healing rocks from the giants of Ireland, who had previously stolen the rocks from Africa.
Merlin and an army set out for Ireland, but upon arriving at the rocks, they could not move them by hand. Merlin then used his magic to dismantle the rocks, where they were brought back to Salisbury and reconstructed in the ring formation we know today.
Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
The spectacular Victoria Falls joins the lands of Zambia and Zimbabwe and while it might be named after Queen Victoria, the legend of the Falls tells a very different tale. Known as the ‘smoke that thunders’, the falls were created in a rage by the Zambezi River God, Nyaminyami, who has the body of a snake and the head of a fish.
Some say that Nyaminyami controls all life near the falls and its ensuing rivers and some even believe that if you venture near the rock of the nearby Kariba Dam entrance, you’ll be sucked into the great depths by Nyaminyami himself!
Pont du Diable Bridge, France
Also known as the ‘Devil’s Bridge’, the Pont du Diable in Céret was built in the early 1300s across the River Tech and featured the largest bridge arch in the country at the time.
However, as the myth goes, the bridge was initially to difficult to build and so locals called on the Devil to build it for them. The Devil, of course, agreed only if the first soul to cross the bridge would be sacrified to him. Once the bridge was complete, however, the locals simply sent a cat across it, thereby winning the wager, while still keeping their bridge.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is one of the most places to visit in Vietnam, but legend claims that it was actually created by dragons! The dragons were sent by the Gods/Emperor to assist the Vietnamese in their battles. Unlike ordinary dragons, though, these dragons breathed emeralds and other gems, which landed on the battlefield and turned into a giant wall to keep out the invaders.
Some versions of the myth also say that the dragons still live in Halong Bay today, while others state they transformed into local people.
The Three Sisters, Australia
The Three Sisters is the most iconic image you’ll see in the Blue Mountains of Australia. According to the Aboriginal dreamtime legend, three sisters once lived in the mountains as part of the Katoomba tribe.
They fell in love with three men from another tribe, but were not allowed to marry them. Angry at this, the men plotted to invade and capture the three sisters – and to protect them during the fight, a witchdoctor turned them into stone. However, the doctor was killed during the battle and so no one has ever been able to turn the sisters back from rocks into real people.
Pulau Ubin Island, Singapore
The rural island of Pulau Ubin in Singapore only houses around 100 villagers today. In past times however, myths tell of a frog, a pig and an elephant who lived in Singapore and decided to challenge one another in a race to reach the far away shores of Johor. They agreed that whoever could not make it would be turned to stone.
All three animals attempted to cross the island, but none made it. The pig and the elephant were turned to rock and their formations fused together to create Pulau Ubin Island. The frog was also turned to rock and became nearby Pulau Sekudu, which today is also known as Frog Island!