As its name suggests, the Eden Project is a laudable effort to protect and preserve the planet’s natural heritage. The huge complex outside of Cornwall consists of two large geodesic dome greenhouses, each containing its own distinct biosphere of plant life. A research and an education centre as well as a tourist attraction, the site is a truly impressive example of our planet’s natural resources.
A meandering path separates the two main biome greenhouse complexes, offering incredible views as visitors make their way into the natural depression in the hills. The entire site has excellent access for the elderly and the physically challenged, so virtually everyone can enjoy the greenhouses.
The Rainforest Biome recreates the environment of the Tropics, containing plants like coffee, cocoa, banana and rubber trees. As you’d expect, the atmosphere is kept warm and humid all year round. With ceilings as high as 50 metres, the dome boasts the world’s biggest captive rainforest. From mangrove swamps to cascading waterfalls, the Rainforest Biome really gives a good insight into tropical conditions.
To better explore this tropical environment, visitors can get a bird’s eye view over the entire greenhouse at the Rainforest Lookout. The cantilevered arm gets you right to the top of the canopy, which is a pretty hot section of the biome. Another fun way to experience the Rainforest Biome from above is on the Rainforest Balloon. By using a guide rope and a harness, the balloon keeps you aloft while you pull yourself along the horizontal rope high above the treetops.
The other biome replicates a Mediterranean environment. Here, visitors will find typical plants like olive trees, grape vines, lemons and fragrant herbs. Inside this biome, the air is incredibly fragrant with flowers and herbs, and wonderfully balmy. Wide, easy-to-navigate paths help visitors explore every corner of the Mediterranean Biome, where exotic cork trees and mammoth aloe vera await.
In addition, an uncovered outdoor biome known as The Gardens showcases plants and herbs from temperate regions across the globe. Organised in small plots that are based on the plants’ uses, visitors will learn about the use of plants for medicine, fabric and fuel. With more than 80 exhibits in The Garden, including sculpture displays and informational plaques, you’ll have plenty of things to do.
In summer, the outdoor gardens are a wild splash of colour. Paths lead you to hidden corners and quiet clearings amid an amazing display of plant life. Winters are equally magical though much colder. On the rare occasions that snow falls, the entire valley transforms into a soft white wonderland.
The newest addition to the Eden Project is The Core, an education facility complete with classrooms, exhibits and administrative offices. The massive building was designed after structural patterns found in nature and really is a beautiful organic piece of architecture. During the day, the centre focuses on education but after dark, it turns into an art venue with DJs and live performances year round.
Inside The Core is Jo’s Café, featuring only the freshest superfoods to create a menu to die for (or keep you from dying). It’s only open in the summer and the views from its outdoor terrace over the entire biome complex are magnificent. The range of shops at the Eden Project sell only sustainable items and many of them are quite clever. From games and kitchen gadgets to local Cornish products, there are many ways to remember your visit.
The price of admission to the Eden Project is quite reasonable considering the efforts that have gone into creating this facility. Besides supporting a good cause, you can remind yourself about the necessity of living harmoniously with the natural world. If you have kids, this place is a real eye-opener and your ticket gets you entry for an entire year.
More info and tickets on the Eden Project official website.