Travel | Greenhouse Effect

Eden Project

Smit's $130 million creation is more than just the world's largest greenhouse; it's a spectacular theater telling the story of human dependence on plants. The exhibits, representing major ecological zones, are contained within a cluster of seven gigantic geodesic domes in a former clay mine almost 200 feet deep; the Tower of London would fit inside the Humid Tropics Biome, which houses a global range of plants. A snaking path climbs high into the curve of the dome, through cocoa trees, banana palms, scarlet-berried coffee plants, sugarcane, pineapples, trees heavy with mangoes and custard apples.

Throughout the complex, sculpture, poetry and paintings remind us that virtually all our food comes from plants. A gold mosaic path evokes the long tradition of olive oil as a symbol of light, life and divinity; a spice galleon made of scented wood tells the story of the sixteenth-century's nutmeg wars. Eden delivers a passionate message about the planet (Smit hopes the project will lead to ideas for improvements in farming and food production), but there's no hair-shirt environmentalism here; it's all put together with wit and fun.

--Jessica Palmer

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