Dublin's eventful and tangled history has left a series of remarkable historic sites dating from the Norman period, some of which are left completely intact following extensive restoration and others remaining fragmented. The city is home to a wealth of historic sites dating from the Middle Ages, The Anglo-Dutch Period, Georgian and Victorian Ages, each adding a distinctive charm to Dublin's breathtaking skyline of many contrasts. Today, visitors to the Irish Capital have the option to visit the city's historic landmarks and sites, most of which are concentrated in and around Dublin's cultural centre, South of the Liffey.
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One of Dublin's most imposing sites of historical significance is Dublin Castle, previously a stronghold of the British Power for more than 700 years. The original Anglo-Norman fortress was erected in the early 13th Century featuring the Record Tower which remains in pristine condition today. Visitors will notice the changing patterns of Irish architecture present within the confines of Dublin Castle as they walk through the Dame Street entrance. One of the finest and most ornate structures is the Victorian Chapel Royal, adorned with in excess of 90 Irish dignitaries and saints, each carved to precsion from Tullamore limestone. The interior of the chapel is as equally as lavish and breathtaking. One of the highlights of the Castle is the Norman Tower which is home to the Garda Museum where visitors can learn the history of the Irish police force. Visitors can ascend to the top of the tower offering superb vistas over Dublin's dramatic cityscape, adorned with Spires, imposing Georgian Terraces and various other antiquities. Alternatively, visitors have the option to enter the subterranean excavations of the old castle and view the vikings foundations and meticulously hand polished castle walls.
Renowned as one of the world most significant ecclesiastical centres, Dublin is home to a multitude of spiring Cathedrals and Churches, dating from the middle ages through to the early 20th Century. Christ Church Roman Catholic Cathedral is at the heart of medieval Dublin and is undoubtedly one of the city's most photogenic sites. Dating back to the late 12th Century, it has been restored on many occasions over the course of the millenium, with various architectural styles added, from Romanesque to English Gothic. Christ Church Cathedral is home to many treasures featured in the Southern Transept including the Baroque Tomb of the 19th Earl of Kildare who died in 1734 and a large arch crypt which dates back to the original Viking church. A host of curiosities are found within the Crypt such as the Treasury, home to a superb collection of rare coins, the Stuart Coat of Arms and nuggets of gold donated to the Cathedral following the Battle of the Boyne.
Located on the exact spot where St Patrick rolled up his slieves and baptised Irish converts, St. Patrick's Cathedral is one of Dublin's earliest ecclesiastical sites, dating from the turn of the 12th Century. Situated within short walking distance from its counterpart, namely Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick's belongs to the Church of Ireland Denomination and is home to St Patrick's original well. Visitors can marvel at the permanent exhibition that is based within the confines of the Cathedral, Living Stones, which unveils the eventful history of St. Patrick's Cathedral and highlights its significant contribution to Dublin's culture and heritage. In some time in the future, tours will be provided for accessing the Spire, Minot's Tower.
For those interested in Ireland's struggle for independence, the infamous Kilmainham Gaol is certainly a shaking and stirring experience. This hauntingly eerie prison staged some of the most tragic and heroic events in Irish history. Dating from 1796, Kilmainham Gaol's walls are filled with barbaric memories of the British Occupation which are reverbed in whispers to each visitor. The prison is renowned for incarcerating Irish Nationalists over a period of 120 years from 1803 upto 1923. One of the most significant episodes in the Gaols history was the treatment of the leaders in the 1916 Easter Rising, a time which has deeply engraved the Gaol into Irish consciousness. Visits to the Gaol are by guided tours that commence with an audio-visual introduction, housed in the chapel where leader Joseph Plunkett married his beloved prior to his execution in 1916. Visitors can immerse themselve in being taken through the cells of theold and new wings, where they can read a host of graffiti that evoke a mixture of emotions. History enthusiasts should set aside half a day to for the full experience.
Trinity College is one of Ireland's most imposing sites of historical and educational significance,standing majestically in the heart of Dublin's cultural quarter. The College's Old Library is home to one of the Ireland's ancient treasures, The Book of Kells. This is by far,Dublin's most visited attractions with the Book of Kells being the magnet for over half a million visitors each year. This spectacularly illuminated copy of gospels created by monks from Iona, Scotland around 800 is one of the world's most distinguished copies of the New Testament, featuring intricate illustrations, texts and decorative letters. The Book is named after the town of Kells in nearby County Meath where the Ionian Monks settled and at the turn of the 9th Century, following viking raids in the Hebridean Islands of Scotland. Established in 1592, Trinity College is Ireland's most pretigious university and offers a peaceful sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of modern day Dublin. Visitors can admire the colleges rich plethora of galleries such as the Douglas Hyde Gallery renowned as one of Ireland's foremost contemporary galleries presenting works of Irish and International artists.
Dublin is home to some of Europe's finest ancient antiquities and historic sites that are as equally as stunning as those of other major European Captials such as London, Paris and Edinburgh. Various sites are free of charge, however nominal fees are required to view some of the cities finest historic sites including the Dublin Castle, The Book of Kells at Trinity College and Kilmainham Gaol. Visitors also have the option to venture out of the confines of Dublin's vibrant cultural centre and sample some of Ireland's finest stately homes and Castles such as Dalkey Castle and Heritage Site, Malahide Castle, Casino Marino (not a casino) and Newbridge House and Traditional Farm, all within easy reach from Dublin city centre by Dublin Bus and DART railway. Please scroll down for a comprehensive list of Dublin's leading historic sites.