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Top Rated Attractions in Dublin

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Kilmainham Gaol

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.

National Botanic Gardens

A short bus ride from the city center, the splendid Botanic Gardens and its many floral wonders are a stunning treat to the senses. Accentuated all the more by the glimmering waters of River Tolka, these Irish gardens uphold an assemblage of hundreds of thousands of plants, and a smattering of botanical specimens. In all their floral glory, the gardens are a wonderland for naturalists and botany aficionados, its verdant course dotted by a string of splendid greenhouses, like the impressive, structural and glass-clad Curvilinear Range and the Palm House. The great glasshouses full of exotica were constructed in the mid 19th century and designed by Richard Turner, who was also the man behind the glasshouses at Kew Gardens. The gardens are divided into distinct areas of interest, featuring long herbaceous beds, a rose garden, alpine houses, a vegetable garden, orchid beds, an arboretum, a yew-clad walkway along the river, and a wonderful area exhibiting the various natural habitats of Ireland. Also sheltering willows plunging gracefully over gleaming waters, the National Botanic Gardens are a luxuriant canvas of natural glory and luminescence.

Dublinia

This building was previously owned by the Church of Ireland and was the Synod Hall right up until 1983. The Medieval Trust now supports the Dublinia exhibition, which aims to cover Dublin's early history, starting with the arrival of the Vikings in 1170 and ending with the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539. Start the tour in the basement with an audio-tape, taking you through life-size reconstructions, depicting major events, including the Black Death, the rebellion of Silken Thomas, and the United Irishmen uprising. Upstairs features a huge model of Dublin in about 1500. Also of note, in the Great Hall, is a multi-screen presentation on medieval Dublin.

National Library of Ireland

Opened in 1890, the National Library was built for the Royal Dublin Society, which was formed in order to promote the arts and sciences in Dublin and to improve conditions for the poor. The library is now Ireland's bibliographical centre and incorporates both the Heraldic Museum and Genealogical Office. Tickets are generally issued to individuals whom the library consider to have "genuine research needs": applications can be made in person and a decision will be reached immediately. The library also regularly holds exhibitions and the Genealogical Office caters for individuals who wish to carry out family research but are unfamiliar with the library's extensive collection.

Pearse Museum

Situated in the leafy suburb of Rathfarnham, this building was formerly a school run by the leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, Padraig Pearse. Located in the beautiful grounds of St. Enda's Park, the museum now features a wide range of exhibits, a nature study room with Irish flora and fauna displays and an audio-visual presentation on the life of Pearse called This Man Kept a School. The fine park features riverside walks, a walled garden and a waterfall.

Iveagh Gardens

Developed as part of the Iveagh Estate in the 18th Century, these gardens are still one of Dublin's best kept secrets, so well-tucked away that they remain quiet and tranquil even in the height of summer. The gardens date as far back as three hundred years, and are collectively known as Dublin's 'Secret Garden', owing to their beautifully obscure setting. The grounds were laid out at a time when all things Gothic were in vogue, hence, it is no surprise that the park is replete with ivy-clad corners, statues and winsome grottoes. Gloriously bathed in beds of vibrant flowers, this sprawling, characterful site is also home to an array of attractions like the Clonmell Lawns, Coburg Gardens, the Winter Garden, a dainty yew maze, a rose garden and the splendid Dublin Exhibition Palace, which is a vast repository of Irish art. The gardens also shelter the eponymous Iveagh House and a jubilant cascade. These gardens are well secluded from the main streets, thus functioning as a peaceful oasis tucked away from the cacophony of city noises.

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