Thousands of people celebrated the summer solstice at the UK's Stonehenge today
Large crowds gathered today to celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge. They made a pilgrimage to the ancient stone circle to see the sunrise on the longest day of the year, reports TVP World.
The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It has been celebrated for millennia at Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the southwest county of Wiltshire.
The World Heritage Site was open for visits from 19:00 British time on Tuesday until 8:00 on Wednesday - this is the only night of the year when people are allowed to stay inside the stone circle for a long time.
For Druids, modern spiritualists associated with the ancient Celtic religious order, Stonehenge has centuries of significance, and they perform dawn rituals around the solstice in their traditional white robes. Essentially, this all symbolizes the cycle of natural human life, death, and rebirth.
A crowd of pagan and Christian believers was cheered, played cymbals, and applauded when the sun rose above the horizon shortly before 4 in the morning. Pagans, including a bearded druid in white robes and a straw hat, performed rituals. Many were in floral wreaths and traditional ethnic dress.
Stonehenge, one of the world's most famous prehistoric monuments and a World Heritage Site, was built on the plain of Salisbury Plain gradually, starting 5000 years ago, with a unique stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period approximately 2500 years BC.
It is known that some of the stones, the so-called blue stones, come from the Preseli hills in southwest Wales, almost 240 kilometers away, but the origin of others remains a mystery.
The significance of this place has been the subject of heated discussions, some theories even assume the participation of aliens.
However, the charity English Heritage, which manages Stonehenge, says that the most widely accepted interpretation is a "prehistoric temple, aligned with the movement of the sun". This is explained by the fact that the stones perfectly coincide with the sun both during the summer and winter solstice.
On the day of the summer solstice, the sun rises over the Heel Stone in the northeastern part of the horizon, and its first rays shine into the heart of the stone circle.
Celebrating crowds also gathered at other prehistoric sites in Britain, including Glastonbury Tor, a hill in the neighboring county of Somerset, which has attracted believers for centuries.