Published on : Monday, October 16, 2017
At the World Travel Awards, Spike Island, the former fortress and prison off the coast of County Cork in Ireland, has been named Europe’s leading tourist attraction. The island surpassed Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower and Rome’s Colosseum to win what is described as the “Oscars” of the travel industry. It marks a win for the community and also “dark tourism”, where travelers seek experience more macabre than a traditional trip to the seaside.
Spike Island, no doubt, has a fascinating history. Situated in Cork Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world, it has been home to a monastic settlement, a military fortress and a prison. Since the fortress reopened to visitors in June 2016, it has become a popular tourist destination, attracting over 45,000 visitors this year.
Visitors travel by boat from the town of Cobh to the island where they can explore the star-shaped fort which was home to thousands of soldiers and prisoners from the late 18th-century until 2004. Visitors can learn about the history of the island, from its place as a home to early Christian monks, the important role it played during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Era, to its reincarnation as an island prison in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
Spike Island is one of a growing number of attractions in Ireland that can be called “dark tourism” sites. Dark tourism is closely associated with death, suffering and the macabre.
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