Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. It is situated on the east coast of Ireland and stands on the mouth of the River Liffey. Dublin may be small in size but it has plenty of character and the Irish are warm-hearted with a good sense of humor. There is plenty to see and do in the city including trying some good Irish cooking as the city’s chefs are gaining a great reputation on the world scene.
1. Dublin Castle
Standing in 11 acres of land, on a high ridge, this lovely castle has 800 years of colorful history to discover. The castle was originally a fortress commissioned by King John in 1204. Most of the castle was built in the 18th century. There is the Victorian Chapel Royal which is decorated with 200 busts of Irish nobility and the Saints carved in Tullamore limestone. The Bedford Tower used to house the Irish Crown Jewels but these were stolen in 1907 and have never been recovered. You can enjoy a self-guided tour or join a 70 minute guided tour which includes the state apartments, gardens, and museum.
2. Explore Two Cathedrals
There are two medieval cathedrals in Dublin, St Patrick’s ( named after Ireland’s Patron Saint) is the larger and is said to have been built over an ancient well that was visited by the Saint. The cathedral is the largest in Ireland and was once a popular destination for pilgrims. The grave of Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels can be seen there as he was once Dean of the Cathedral (1713-1745). The cathedral has marvelous stained glass windows and is open daily to visitors.
Christ Church Cathedral also has the name – Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The cathedral was founded in 1030 by King Sitrius Silkbeard and Runen who was Dublin’s first Bishop. The cathedral is beautifully built with flying buttresses and is open to the public. If you can attend one of the services you will be able to hear the cathedral choir – said to be one of Ireland’s finest choirs.
3. Guinness Storehouse Factory
Situated in the St James’s Gate Brewery, with a cleverly designed interior that looks like a pint of Guinness, is the Guinness Storehouse Factory. There are seven floors to visit which tell the history and brewing methods used for this world-famous stout. There are displays about the family that owns Guinness and the creation of the iconic advertisements that have been used by the brewery over the years. There is the chance to learn how to pull the perfect pint in just 119.5 seconds! On the 7th floor is the Gravity Bar with 360º views and a welcome glass of Guinness!
4. Phoenix Park
This lovely park is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe and covers 1,700 acres. Phoenix Park is situated about two miles from the city center but has plenty to see as it houses Dublin Zoo, The Wellington monument, and Magazine Fort. Phoenix Park also houses several stately homes – including the official residence of the Irish President.
There are cycling and walking routes, several playing fields and a large resident herd of fallow deer that date from the 17th century. In the Visitors’ Centre, there are displays of all the wildlife that can be seen in the park.
5. Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo was built in 1830 and originally was a privately funded zoo for use by anatomists and physicists. Ten years later, 46 mammals and 72 birds were brought from London Zoo to Dublin and the zoo was opened to the public every Sunday – with the cost of an entrance ticket being one penny.
Today, Dublin Zoo covers 28 hectares and is well known for being a modern zoo where animals are kept in excellent condition. The zoo takes its role in conservation, education and study very seriously and has much success in its breeding programs. Today, there are 400 different animals to see at the zoo from all over the world – many of them are rare and endangered species.
6. Temple Bar
The Temple Bar is the most iconic pub in Dublin! Instantly recognized by its scarlet facade, there has been a bar on this spot in the city center since the 13th century. The Temple Bar is the perfect place to enjoy a cool Guinness or some Irish whiskey. (Scottish whiskey is spelled without an ‘e’ and Irish whiskey, with one!)
7. Ha’penny Bridge
This popular attraction was the first pedestrian bridge that was built across the River Liffey. The bridge opened in 1816 and the toll charged for using it to cross the river was a halfpenny (pronounced ha’penny). Today. Ha’penny Bridge is one of the most photographed attractions in the city.
8. Trinity College Library
This wonderful library is the largest in Ireland. The main library can only be used by staff, graduates and students from the university, but the general public can enjoy the ‘Old Library’. The Old Library is a huge long room with two levels and floor to ceiling oak shelving. The library’s most important exhibit is the 1,000-year-old Book of Kells which is a very ornate and illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament. There is also a beautiful 15th golden harp on display which was the inspiration for the emblem of Ireland.
9. Glasnevin Cemetery
This fascinating cemetery is one of the most popular attractions in the city as it contains the graves of writers, poets, and politicians. There are guided tours available and the guides are incredibly knowledgable about the history of the city. One of the most impressive graves is that of Daniel O’Connell which is housed in a soaring round tower.
10. The National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology)
Situated in an elegant building, with many fascinating exhibits, this museum opened in 1877 and is free of charge to visit. Exhibits include some telling the story of the Vikings and others the story of ór– Ireland’s Gold. These include jewelry and ornaments crafted by Celtic artisans in the Bronze and Iron ages. The Broighter Hoard which is a 1st century BC gold stud collar is said to be the finest in Europe.
The most fascinating exhibits are those of the four’ bog men’. These are Iron Age bodies that have been found in boggy areas in Ireland and have been eerily preserved in the peat. The bodies have skin the color of rich mahogany with eyelashes, fingernails and even some hair still in place.