Located in the lush green county of Cornwall, The Eden Project is a unique and spectacular visitor attraction, with a futuristic greenhouse complex that is home to thousands of unusual plants that have been collected from all over the world.

These are no ordinary greenhouses: the giant biomes (a familiar sight on the horizon) nestle in a giant crater that’s around the same size as 30 football pitches! They house plants from a multitude of environments and climates, giving an insight into the fascinating relationship between humans and nature.

The project won the British Travel Awards’ title of the Best UK Leisure Attraction five years running, from 2011 to 2015. It is an epic destination, where visitors are transported to a series of tropical gardens.

The Eden Project

© L. Tempera / Adobe Stock

 

World’s largest greenhouse

The Rainforest Biome is the largest greenhouse in the world, where visitors can experience the sights and smells of a rainforest. Go on a journey of discovery and find out how tropical plants are used to provide everyday products.

With a floor area of 3.9 acres and standing at 180 feet tall, the tropical biome is filled with exotic plants including rubber, fruiting banana, coffee and giant bamboo.

Stroll through the Mediterranean Biome, take in the orange and lemon trees, vines and olive groves of South Africa and California and visit the 30-acre outdoor garden, where sunflowers, hemp and other plants bloom in the clean Cornish air.

Containing beautiful, decorative sculptures, the Mediterranean Biome is 115 feet high and covers an area of 1.6 hectares. Plants flourish in a warm, arid environment.

 

How it began

Sir Timothy Smit (the Dutch-born businessman famous for creating Cornwall’s other botanical attraction, the Lost Gardens of Heligan) was largely responsible for the creation of the Eden Project. He formed the idea of building biomes in a clay pit in the early 1990s.

By January 1995, his plans to create the unusual greenhouses began in earnest. Smit passed his original ideas to architect firm Grimshaw, who drew up the Eden Project plans. By October 1996, the project had developed into the creation of the huge, bubble-shaped domes that have become a landmark today.

The greenhouses were versatile enough to work on any surface, including the clay pits. Five years later, in March 2001, the Eden Project first opened to the public.

It received favourable reviews in the national press, with The Times newspaper labelling it the “eighth wonder of the world”. In the first three months alone, more than a million people arrived to witness the marvel for themselves!

 

Aims and objectives

The Eden Project aims not only to conserve and cultivate plants, but also to educate people on the importance of plants to our planet, showing how the human race is dependent on them for our continued survival.

It focuses on the unique relationship between people and the plant world and encourages us to learn how to live sustainably, so that we may conserve our planet’s resources for future generations. Organisers want everyone to learn this important message, no matter what their age.

The attraction provides a fascinating, fun and family-friendly day out. Children can learn where rubber, tea and sugar are grown and can experience first-hand the simulated tropical environments from across the world, fostering an interest in nature and conservation.

The venue hosts many themed events, according to the season, including workshops for children and adults and activity days. There is no other place in the world like the Eden Project.

 

Continued development

The Eden Project began hosting one-day music festivals in August 2002 and over the years, many top artists have appeared, including Pulp, Oasis, Amy Winehouse, Paolo Nutini and Muse.

The attraction launched its global gardening project in January 2004. The educational programme encourages children to create their own garden, learning about food production and the environment in doing so. Run across four continents, thousands of children have been taking part in the project since.

Eden launched Cornwall’s first undercover ice-rink in November 2004 and it is now enjoyed by around 100,000 people every year. The rink hosts an annual winter festival which attracts visitors from across the world.

Educational events held at Eden include school trips and resources, courses for businesses, visits from colleges and universities, degree studies, community workshops, a club for parents and under-fives, study courses for an MSc in sustainability, teacher training and a chance to become an Eden apprentice.

 

Latest attractions

The first community camp was launched in May 2013, inviting people to join a residential camp, where they can gain practical help and advice on encouraging people with gardening in their hometown.

A unique treetop walkway opened in June 2013. Visitors can enjoy a walk with a spectacular view across the rainforest landscape, which also educates people on why the rainforest is so important to our ecosystem. In 2017, the attraction was extended with the opening of a new section.

The Eden Project Hostel opened in October 2014, offering hotel accommodation for 228 guests. Eden continues to develop and has recently begun offering apprenticeships in association with Cornwall College in hospitality, horticulture, creative design and media.

No matter how large the Eden Project becomes, it will always retain its eco-friendly ethos, putting the emphasis firmly on sustainable, ethical and recycled projects.

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