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Newgrange in Ireland is a major Neolithic site built around 3200 BC and was designed to document the winter solstice. This large, grass-covered circular mound predates the Great Pyramids of Egypt by a half millennium.
The site attracts 200,000 visitors per year. Access is by group tour only. After you buy your ticket at the nearby visitors center, your assigned group is bussed to the site.
Once a year, on December 21st (shortest day of the year), the inner passage is lined up perfectly with the rising sun.
At dawn, for 17 minutes
A sunbeam passes through the inner passage and illuminates the central chamber's floor.
About 100 people (out of nearly 30,000 applicants) are selected each year by lottery to witness the solar-alignment event.
Throughout the year
The solar event is reenacted by artificial light for all group tours.
Although most archaeologists believe that Stonehenge in England is a more significant Neolithic site than Newgrange, some disagree.
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