Sheathed in acres of rolling green expanses, Phoenix Park is one of the largest city parks in Europe. This massive verdant swathe lies nestled in the west of the city, and is a mixture of wilderness and formal landscape gardens. Dotted with tree-cloaked boulevards, pristine tracts of grassland and open recreational spaces, the park is also home to some monumental, nationally significant edifices, too. The Ashtown Castle calls the park home, in addition to the towering Papal Cross which marks the visit of Pope John Paul II back in 1979, the stately Áras an Uachtaráin, the Wellington Monument which is a soaring tribute to the Duke of Wellington, and the teeming Dublin Zoo, are all nestled in its scenic, idyllic expanse. Among the many recreational activities offered here are Gaelic football, polo and cricket. Also enclosed within its viridescent fabric is a vibrant burst of plant life, while a bird sanctuary and a herd of fallow deer coexist in peaceful harmony. Playing host to an array of events, festivals as well as racing events, Phoenix Park is a massive window into the unbridled natural beauty and strategic finesse of Ireland.
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.
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.
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.
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 new attractions such as City Farm, Monkey Island and Fringes of the Arctic. The train ride around the zoo is also fun and a welcome rest for weary legs! Refreshments are available in the restaurant and coffee shop, while a variety of cuddly toys can be found in the gift shop.
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.
The majestic Chapel Royal is an early 19th Century Chapel, and was formerly owned by the official Church of England. Located in Dublin Castle, the Chapel is an architectural marvel, with breathtakingly beautiful Gothic revival interiors exuding an opulent charm. Three statues resembling Faith, Hope and Charity stand over the Chapel's chancel window. The Chapel was once also used as a filming location for the television series, The Tudors.
This non profit venue is the only gallery in Ireland devoted exclusively to photography. It holds around ten exhibitions a year and hosts work by both Irish and international photographers. The building's glass façade is one of the finest examples of contemporary architecture in the city. It also offers a variety of seminars and workshops. Spread over four floors, the gallery is also an excellent source of photographic gifts, books and cards. The shop has an excellent selection of original prints from Irish and international photographers and the stock changes regularly.
Awash in splendid Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles, the imposing Christ Church Cathedral underlines both, magnificence and might. The church is one of Dublin's two Anglican cathedrals and has stood on this site since the 6th Century. The present building was founded in 1172 by Strongbow, the Anglo-Norman conqueror of Dublin. In the hundreds of years since, the building has weathered many changes of design, and periods of steady deterioration. Since 1870 however, the Cathedral has been gradually and sensitively restored. The cathedral houses some of the remains of Strongbow, a pair of monumental, carved statues, aged books, altar artifacts, a casket containing the heart of St Laurence (the patron saint of Dublin), a tabernacle and candlesticks used by James II in 1689 when the Latin Mass was briefly celebrated. Furthermore, the cathedral is complete with a string of archways, a smattering of stained glass windows, and one of Ireland's largest crypts. The cathedral choir is one of the finest in Ireland.
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.
Once upon a time in ancient Dublin, a great stone wall surrounded the city. The wall was huge and formidable and entry into the city was granted through the handful of arched gates. This wall and gates were built by the Norman settlers in the 13th century to defend the city from invading clans and foreign people. The gateways also served as tollbooths. As centuries passed the wall around the historic city began to crumble and was lost with time. Only one of the city’s historic gates exists to this day that is located behind a side of a church and is called the Saint Audoen’s Gate or Arch that leads to a narrow alleyway. The gateway was restored in 1976 and is still used by the locals to reach the High Street and Cornmarket.