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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrIreland’s capital city, Dublin, is a thrusting, dynamic place, which despite its size remains utterly beguiling and definitely worth a visit. More than a third of the Republic of Ireland’s population lives within the Greater Dublin area.
The laid-back Irish capital is a somehow harmonious blend of Victorian pubs, rows of elegant Georgian town houses in silvery stone, and glittering modern buildings. When you stroll around the city, survey Dublin's Georgian architecture, a formal and symmetrical style popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, that's known for its colorful, sometimes garish doors. Alongside the city’s historic buildings and pubs you’ll discover modern hotels and shopping centers, stunning new street architecture and a charming tramway system.
Most of Dublin’s attractions are contained within a relatively compact area, spreading either side of the many-bridged River Liffey , which divides the city between its North-side and South-side. On Grafton Street you'll be greeted by street musicians, poets and sidewalk artists. The most appealing thing about Dublin isn't the sights, or even the great pubs. It's the people, the Dubliners. Amiable and witty at their ease are the greatest hosts of all and most of them love nothing better than talking to strangers. The Dublin nightlife is renowned worldwide. The main area that everyone flocks to is the Temple Bar district, where there are a huge collection of pubs, bars and clubs.
HistoryThe first documented history of Dublin begins with the Viking raids in the 8th and 9th century. By the 11th century, Dublin prospered, mainly due to close trading links with the English towns of Chester and Bristol and soon became the most important town in Ireland. From the 14th to 18th centuries, Dublin was incorporated into the English Crown as The Pale and, for a time, became the second city of the British Empire. Dublin continued to prosper in the 16th century and boasts one of the oldest universities in the British isles, Trinity College , which was founded by Queen Elizabeth I. The city grew even more rapidly during the 18th century with many famous districts and buildings added, such as Merrion Square, Parliament House and the Royal Exchange, later to become City Hall. Things were to change dramatically in the 20th century with the 1916 Easter Rising , the War For Independence and the subsequent Civil War which eventually led to the establishment of the Republic of Ireland.
Trinity CollegeTrinity College has a stellar academic reputation in addition to being one of Dublin's finest landmarks. It is Ireland's most prestigious university, a masterpiece of architecture and landscaping. It's also home to one of the world's most famous books, the gloriously illuminated Book of Kells.
National Museum of IrelandThe National Museum of Ireland consists of four separate museums, three of which are located in Dublin and one in County Mayo. The four branches in Dublin are Archaeology, Decorative Arts & History and Natural History. The one in Mayo exhibits Country Life.
Particularly the National Museum of Archaeology is worth visiting, home to a fabled collection of Irish artifacts dating from 7000 BC to the present. The most striking exhibition among its many excellent pieces is Ór, a collection of Bronze Age Irish gold displayed in vast glass cases on the ground floor. The Treasury collection, including some of the museum's most renowned pieces, is open on a permanent basis.
The National Museum of Natural History features a large zoological collection, including about 10,000 stuffed animals. This is an old museum, its collection dating back to 1856, and is often regarded as a 'museum of a museum'.
The National Museum of Decorative Arts & History is found in the impressive Collin Barracks and displays furniture, glassware, ceramics, weaponry, silverware and so on.
St Patrick's CathedralSaint Patrick's Cathedral is a Collegiate Church and the National Cathedral of Ireland. It was given the name National Cathedral, because it is not a seat of a bishop, a major requirement for qualification as a cathedral. The seat of the Archbishop of Dublin is Christ Church Cathedral. Both churches operate as co-cathedrals, an arrangement that is unique in the world. St Patrick's Cathedral was built in 1191 on the site of the former wooden St Patrick's Church, the very site where legendary Saint Patrick used to baptize converts.
Christ Church CathedralChrist Church Cathedral is the most photogenic by far of Dublin's three cathedrals as well as one of the capital's most recognizable symbols. The original Viking cathedral was built around 1030, but the existing Anglo-Norman building dates from the 1180s, with many subsequent restorations. Inside, it is more handsome rather than spectacular. Keep an eye out for the heart-shaped iron box said to contain the heart of St Laurence O'Toole, and for 'the cat and the rat'.
Dublin CastleNot a castle in the sense of a military stronghold - although that is how it started out - Dublin Castle is a palace located in the heart of the city. It is an important government building and used for major state receptions, presidential inaugurations and official celebrations. It did start out as a Viking fortress, but in the following centuries it has also served as a prison, a treasury, a court of law and the seat of a wide variety of rulers. Some of the rooms are open to the public, including the Chapel Royal, the Heritage Centre, the Undercroft (where the original foundations are still visible) and the absolutely spectacular State Apartments.
Chester Beatty LibraryThe magnificent Chester Beatty Library is located on the grounds of Dublin Castle and is both an art museums and a library. It is without question one of the best museums in the country, and arguably even in Europe. The museum's collections span three thousand years and pretty much all corners of the world. On display are drawings, prints, manuscripts, miniature paintings and unique books from all over Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East; highlights are Egyptian papyrus rolls, illustrated Bibles and illuminated Qur'ans. Additionally, the museum also has a large collection of artefacts and books from the Far East.
DubliniaA visit to Dublinia is a must see to learn all about Dublin’s colorful history. An entertaining and informative reconstruction of everyday life in medieval Dublin is an unforgettable experience. There are three exciting exhibitions, Viking Dublin and Medieval Dublin recreate the city through life size reconstructions, including a Viking house and a medieval fair while *Death and Disease( are also investigated.
Temple BarTemple Bar is known as the cultural quarter of Dublin. Originally a slum that was to be developed into a bus terminal, it became home to a number of artists' galleries and small businessmen's shops who took advantage of the cheap rent in the 1980s. Though family-friendly during the day, after dark wouldn't be considered "culturally rich experiences" by most. As far as nightlife goes, Temple Bar is a popular place to get a drink or two with friends and enjoy some traditional Irish music. It is probably Dublin's most vibrant neighborhood, consisting of cobbled streets, galleries and museums, and the location of weekly book markets and countless pubs and nightclubs.
Kilmainham GaolOne of the city's major attractions, Kilmainham Gaol used to be a feared prison, a place of incarceration for 125 years. It was the place where many of the leaders of several Irish rebellions against the Brits were held. Many were tortured, some were even executed in the courtyard. Examples of people imprisoned there are Aemon DeValera, Stewart Parnell and Robert Emmett. The prison is now a museum and can be visited on guided tours. Those tours include the cells where rebels were held, the chapel, the courtyard and the large new cell block. There's a fascinating museum on site as well.
Dublin ZooDublin Zoo is the biggest zoo in Ireland in located in Phoenix Park. It is one of the most-visited family attractions in the whole country, drawing in more than a million visitors every year. The zoo covers 70 acres of gardens, lakes, walking paths and natural habitats and provides a home for approximately 600 animals. Opened in 1831, it is also one of the oldest animal parks in the world.
Guinness StorehouseAnother major tourist attraction in the city, the Guinness Storehouse is part of the world-renowned Guinness Brewery. This huge seven-floor building is its official visitor center, a place where people can explore the history of one of the world's most famous beers, see how Guinness is brewed and buy all kinds of Guinness-related souvenirs and goodies. There is also a restaurant serving great pub fare and, of course, a few pubs as well.
Old Jameson DistilleryBesides Guinness, Dublin is also famed for its whiskey. The one place to go if you want to learn more about the distilling and history of Irish whiskey is the Old Jameson Distillery, located off Smithfield Square. This award-winning visitor center offers everything from whiskey tastings to guided tours and meals, drinks and trad music.
O'Connell StreetO'Connell Street is Dublin's main thoroughfare and in fact the widest urban street in Europe. It is more like a boulevard than a street, lined with historic buildings such as the General Post Office and dotted with statues of prominent Dubliners and Irishmen. In the middle of the street stands The Spire, a major landmark in the city, visible from pretty much anywhere, and the tallest sculpture in the world.
Public ParksDublin is home to several great public parks. St Stephen's Green, situated at the end of Grafton Street, is the most popular one.
Other excellent green spaces that are worth visiting and strolling through are Merrion Square and Phoenix Park. Phoenix Park, by the way, is the largest enclosed urban park in any European capital city. It's enormous and home to a herd of roe deer. A short distance north from the city center, the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland are absolutely worth your time as well. They are renowned for their beautifully restored glasshouses and for being home to more than 15,000 plant species and cultivars.
HowthLeave the big city behind and discover the an ancient fishing village just outside of Dublin. The charming village of Howth is perfect for a day trip. It’s just a short train ride from the city. Best discovered by foot, the waterfront and piers are a great starting point for exploration. Cliff paths lead around the coastline, through Howth village and its ruined abbey, and past Baily Lighthouse.
Where to stayDublin as the capital offers variety of great accommodation, from modern or old style hotels, boutique hotels to cosy B&B's, homely guesthouses or vibrant youth hostels, to suit every need and every budget. If you are traveling in the summer months from June to September, you also have the option to stay in student accommodation in the historic Trinity College.
Or stay in the modern Dublin City University with extensive spa and fitness facilities. Student accommodation in Dublin offers great value for money with room prices between hostel rates and budget hotels. Lodgings on the north side of the River Liffey tend to be more affordable than those on the south. Many hotels have a weekend, or B&B rate that's often cheaper than the ordinary rate; some hotels also have a midweek special that provides good discounts. If you've rented a car and you're not staying at the hotel with parking, it's worth considering a location out of the city center, such as Dalkey or Killiney, where you won't have to worry about parking on the city streets.
Food & DrinkDublin has a wide selection of restaurants to choose from, with every style of international cuisine represented. Plenty of classic Irish and British dishes are offered, ranging from Irish lamb and beef to local potato specialties. Seafood is also common in Irish cooking. Of course, these dishes are always to be washed down with a pint of local brew or something a little stronger. The majority of Dublin’s restaurants are on the south side of the river in the city center, with a tight concentration in Temple Bar. Guinness is known the world over for its impenetrable blackness, and this Dublin-brewed beverage is certainly something worth trying when you are in Ireland.
ShoppingThere's a huge variety of shops in Dublin, as a walk trough Dublin's central shopping area, from O'Connell to Grafton Street, will prove. Two of the main shopping areas are pedestrianized and are found on either side of the River Liffey. The high street brands are generally located on the north side of the city and the smaller local shops on the south side. If you are shopping in central Dublin, be prepared to push through the crowds, especially in the afternoon and on weekends.
The best shopping complex outside the city center is Dundrum Shopping Center, 10 minutes away by tram. It's Ireland's largest shopping center and contains flagships such as House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols to favorites such as Marks & Spencer and Penneys. Shopping times are generally 10 am to 6 pm, with late shopping on Thursday nights and until 8 pm or 9 pm daily in the larger stores. The cheapest Irish store for great bargains is Penneys, you'll find it on O'Connell Street and in Dundrum Shopping Center.
Getting aroundThe vast majority of the capital’s best sights are concentrated in the city center, an area of no more than a few square kilometers so walking is the best option. After walking, buses are the most convenient and practical way to get between the city center sights. Dublin Bus operates a fleet of double-deckers, buses, and minibuses. You pay on board the bus, using an automatic fare machine located in front of the driver. No Dublin buse accepts notes or gives change. Dublin also has two tram lines called "Luas" - "The Red Line" and "The Green Line".
SafetyOverall, Dublin is a safe place to visit. As in any city, it is important to keep an eye on your belongings, particularly when on public transport or in a busy pub. The greatest danger looms from opportunistic thieves who use bustling crowds as a cover to pick your pockets or simply snatch your bag. At night do not wander around parts of the city that you are unfamiliar with or in poor lit areas. If you are staying in one of the cheap hostels in the north of the city, be aware that drugs in the streets are a problem, which also heightens the added risk of crime in these parts too. It is important to be alert and sensible, but if you take the same precautions in Dublin that you take in any other city, you should have enjoyable and crime free experience.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Jun 10, 2015