Home to over a million plants and more than five thousand different species from around the world, the iconic “biomes” (gigantic greenhouses) at the Eden Project Cornwall are the focus of the UK’s premier green attraction.
The Eden Project Cornwall: a pocket history
Built on the site of a former clay quarry, the Eden Project Cornwall is the brainchild of Tim Smit, the Dutch-born British businessman who was also part of the team responsible for reviving the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan. The project opened to the public in the year 2000 and remains one of the UK's most popular tourist attractions, with over a million visitors per year. The project employs over five hundred staff, most of whom come from the local area.
The site is dominated by two futuristic-looking domes, or biomes. The Rainforest Biome houses plants from the tropics, incorporating tropical islands and parts of southeast Asia, West Africa and South America. The smaller Mediterranean Biome displays citrus, olives, herbs and vines from the Mediterranean, a rich variety of proteas and aloes from southern Africa, drifts of colourful Californian poppies and lupins, and shrubs of the Chaparral. Visitors are guided along the walkways by species labels and explanatory notes that describe how the plants are used for medicine, food and biofuel, and how a vision of a sustainable future is pinned to their survival.
The Rainforest biome at the Eden Project Cornwall © Photography Cornwall/Shutterstock
How to get to the Eden Project Cornwall
The Eden Project is located between the towns of Blazey and St Austell in Cornwall. The nearest train station is St Austell, and a shuttle bus travels between the station and the site frequently. There's also parking on site. It's open all year round, but closes on occasional Mondays and Tuesdays in the winter months.
On most days throughout the summer the Eden Project hosts attractions and events including theatre, workshops, art displays, gardening talks, children’s events and music festivals. All the facilities are managed with sustainability in mind. The food in the cafés is local and organic; food waste is composted and used in the gardens; rainwater is harvested and used to irrigate the plants and flush the loos; and you get a discount if you arrive on foot or by bicycle.
Find out more about the day trips in the area with the Rough Guide to Devon and Cornwall.
Header Image: Inside the Rainforest Biome © Franceso Carucci/Shutterstock