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Dublin Castle symbolized English rule for 700 years, ever since the Anglo-Normans built their fortress on this site. Later, the castle was to serve as the headquarters of the English-appointed Viceroy of Ireland. It was not until 1922 that it was finally handed over to the Irish Free State. The castle's apartments boast of opulent, wonderfully-decorated rooms, while carpets of rolling, formal gardens lend it an alluring aura. Sheltered within the castle's fabric are insignia and collectibles of historical interest. The Castle is in use even today as a venue for state functions as well as home to multiple government agencies. The castle grounds are also home to the magnificent Chapel Royal and the splendid Chester Beatty Library. A window into the country's monumental, medieval past, this mighty castle is indeed one of the most priceless possessions of Dublin.
Located at Stephen's Green, this little non-profit museum revives 20th Century Dublin for visitors. The little museum focuses, among other things, on the cultural transition that took place during the entire existence of the nation. There's a surprising amount of things to discover here, such as the Golden Age of Dublin, contribution of women in significant socio-economic movements, and a special exhibit dedicated to U2, Ireland's biggest rock band. Overall, it is a great way to acquaint yourself with how far the great city has come, and it is highly recommended to join one of their super engaging tours.
Located above the peacefully flowing River Liffey, the Ha'penny Bridge, also known as the Liffey Bridge, is an important landmark of the city. During the early 18th Century, ferries operated by a private owner called William Walsh plied across the river. But these ferries were in a deteriorating condition and that forced officials to demand the erection of a bridge or termination of ferries from Walsh. Walsh expressed his desire to build the bridge but he had inadequate funds. On his earnest request, commuters were charged Halfpenny or Ha'penny as a toll for the construction of the bridge. That's how the bridge came to be known as Ha'penny Bridge. Today, it beckons visitors and locals with its angelic white color and promises pristine views of the beautiful river.
To many, Guinness is one of the most important features of Ireland. Completed at the cost of EUR30 million, the Guinness Storehouse is a fine addition to Dublin's ever-growing list of purpose-built attractions. Set inside a converted 18th-century fermentation building, it consists of six floors linked by a giant atrium in the shape of a pint glass. Although the actual brewery is not open to the public, the storehouse's new exhibition space outlines the 200-year history of the company and reveals many brewing secrets. The models and displays of the exhibition are followed by a short film and a glass of the famous brew! The storehouse is also home to the stylish Gravity Bar.
One of only two Anglican cathedrals in Dublin, this venerated church stands alongside the serene meadows of the symbolic Saint Patrick's Park. Constructed in the year 1192, the cardinal cathedral of Glendalough is an architectural masterpiece whose multiple spires soar over the urban landscapes of the Coombe, Warrenmount, and Portobello. The main attractions within St Patrick's are the tombs of Jonathan Swift and his companion, which are located in the nave. The cathedral also contains the longest medieval nave in Ireland and a stone slab engraved with a Celtic cross that covers the well from which St Patrick blessed his subjects. The adjoining garden is a welcome oasis in this densely built-up district of the city.
This former prison is one of Dublin's most historic buildings. Dating back to 1796, the Kilmainham Gaol is a massive building that housed men, women and even child prisoners. Most notably, the Gaol is known for incarcerating famous rebels and prisoners of war. Today the building serves as a museum with exhibits, artifacts and docent-led tours.
This private house and one-time fortress is located on acres of lush parkland in Malahide. The interiors are done up beautifully with plush drawing rooms and portrait paintings of the Talbot family, while the facade is flanked by beguiling Gothic Revival turrets. Standing strong for about 800 years, this old home has seen it all; wars, good times and memories of the family it sheltered. One of the country's oldest castles, the magnificent Malahide Castle not only chronicles the legacy of the Talbots, but it has also been a catalyst in framing the course of Ireland's medieval history. Now a major attraction, the main hall plays host to private celebrations and banquets, while guided tours in French, Spanish and Dutch are available for tourists. The restaurant is quite popular with the locals, who drop in for a hot traditional breakfast of baked scones, with homemade jam and cream.
This beautifully restored 17th-century building is one of the oldest military barracks in Europe. As if that isn't enough, Collins Barracks also acts as the second site of the National Museum in Dublin, housing the institution's collections of decorative art. Of particular note are the collections of Irish silverware, Etruscan vases and furniture, while an exhibition entitled "The Way We Wore" provides a fascinating insight into fashion through the ages. Collins Barracks is also often home to interesting touring exhibitions and is only a short stroll from the newly revitalized Smithfield area.
More than 235 species of wild animals and birds inhabit Dublin Zoo, a vast expanse within Phoenix Park. Created in 1830 and later restored and extended, this zoo is one of the oldest in the world. The thirty acres (12.1 hectares) provide lots of treats for the family, including a pet's corner and attractions such as Family Farm and Fringes of the Arctic. The train ride around the zoo is also fun and a welcome rest for weary feet! Refreshments are available in the restaurant and coffee shop, while a variety of cuddly toys can be found in the gift shop.
Dublin's most famous park is steeped in history. It started life as common ground, not far from a lepers' hospital, and was eventually enclosed in 1664. The site of public hangings throughout the 18th century, it was not until Lord Ardilaun's patronage in 1880 that the park took on the landscaped form that we see now. Memorials are dotted around the flower beds, trees, and willow-fringed duck pond. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats are just some of the famous names commemorated, while the Three Fates smugly measure the thread of humanity's destiny from their fountain at Leeson Street Gate. Free concerts are held on summer days in the bandstand.