– By Kim Feldmann
As the capital of Emerald Island, Dublin attracts thousands of tourists annually and sets Ireland in motion like any other city in the country. Besides the cordiality and receptiveness of the Irish people, the many attractions that the capital has to offer are the reasons why so many fall in love with it. Boredom is a word that doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of those who visit Dublin – a well-structured destination, with cultural and entertainment options, both during the day and at night, rain or shine. There are museums and libraries that keep valuable treasures; shopping streets surrounded by elegant buildings; parks with lush-green areas; theatres and stadiums, among other options.
1) Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness brewery is one of Ireland’s symbol and a great Irish pride – which makes it an important touristic attraction in Dublin. For those who wish to find out more about the history of Guinness, inside the factory building there is a museum devoted to the most famous brewery in the country. Among the topics are the processes of evolution of the beer, its founders and other curiosities resulting from over 250 years of existence, with good humour and interactivity setting the rhythm of the visit. Besides, the museum is situated in the old fermentation plant, so it’s possible to learn how about the brewing process and its peculiarities. Even more interesting is learning how to properly pour a Guinness in an amusing class at the Guinness Academy, with the right to a free pint and certificate.
2) St. Patrick’s Cathedral
It would be somewhat impossible to talk about Ireland and not mention St. Patrick, thus, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Ireland’s largest church – may be considered as one of the main attractions in Dublin. The cathedral was erected in the 13th century, on the spot where St. Patrick used to baptise the faithful. An interesting feature of this particular church, aside from its stained glass windows, interior decoration, and Norman architecture, is the fact that Jonathan Swift – a famous writer known for “Gulliver’s Travels” – was buried there. Ireland’s most popular writers are venerated at the garden surrounding the cathedral, showing the importance of literature within the country. The cathedral also often organizes beautiful concerts and choirs which are worth watching.
3) Kilmainham Gaol
Ireland is now a fully-independent country, but its autonomy was a strenuous and painful process that didn’t come without the loss of many lives – including those of political and military leaders that could’ve contributed greatly to the nation. Many Irish nationalists were once imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, which eventually became a stage for the execution of these advocates and today is the biggest unoccupied prison in Europe.is one of Dublin’s most visited sites. The independence of Ireland in the beginning of the 20th century, showed to the world the strength of the Irish people and the determination of its foremost political figures, and the participation of Kilmainham in some of the country’s most remarkable events – such as the 1916 Easter Rising – turns a visit to this thick, cold building into a moment of reflection over the costs of war – a bittersweet yet enriching visit.
4) Trinity College
The Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland, founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1592. Since it is a rather prestigious school, many famous Irish scholars – like Edmund Burke and Oscar Wilde – attended university there. Nowadays, tourists crowd the building’s courtyards, be it for a guided tour or simply to appreciate its classical architecture. The university also safeguards The Book of Kells – a 680 page, medieval manuscript written by Irish monks containing the Latin texts of the Four Gospels.
5) Dublin Castle
Founded in the 13th century, the Dublin Castle is a large fortification that currently serves to host illustrious events linked to the State of Ireland. However, the castle was under the control of the English for centuries and, only after Ireland’s independence, it was effectively used by the nation. Therefore, it is common to say that the Dublin Castle is the most English among the castles of Ireland. The guided tours to the old fortification include seeing the lavish apartments, many still decorated according to the imperial era and thus abundant in neoclassical traits. It was around this structure that Dublin (formerly known as Dubh Linn) was born and developed.
6) Phoenix Park
Much like any city in Europe, Dublin has public gardens so people can enjoy sunny days in nature. Europe’s largest urban park, The Phoenix Park is situated slightly far away from the city centre – a stronghold of tranquility. It is the ideal place for the practice of sports due to its large, leafy trees, being highly-sought after on the weekends. The Phoenix Park also lodges the presidential residence and the Dublin Zoo. Like with the many activities in Ireland that are done in open-air, rainy weather can cause inconvenience, but on a sunny day, this is a great option.
7) St. Stephen’s Green Park
St. Stephen’s Green Park has a very central location which makes it highly coveted on weekdays, especially during lunchtime. After being restored by Sir Arthur Guinness, the park was re-opened to the public in 1880. Its well-conserved walkways, numerous trees, and vibrant flower beds are ideal for photographing – or finding a patch of grass where to take a nap.
8) Temple Bar
The Temple Bar is a riverside region in Dublin that preserves the Medieval style through its narrow, pebbled streets. It is a great option for the ones seeking the trendiest pubs, nightclubs, and restaurants in the city, besides observing the architecture of the houses and the movement of the dwellers. This area also houses various cultural centres, like the Photography Centre, the Irish Film Institute, and the Projects Arts Centre.
9) Gafton Street
The famous Grafton Street is one of the busiest sites in Dublin. Situated between St. Stephen’s Green Park and Trinity College, this pedestrian-only street features an array of shops and buskers that lighten up the spirit of passerby even on the cloudiest days. Grafton Street works as an open-air shopping mall and is the ideal spot to grab a coffee and go for a stroll – or people-watch.
10) The Rag Trader
Drury Street is nowadays one of Dublin’s hub of restaurants and bars – yet it hasn’t always been the place you would go to grab a pint. Back in the day, the area was where most of Ireland’s textile manufacturers chose to settle. This old fabric warehouse has replaced its yarns for taps, looms for bar stools, making the pub pastime ever so cultural. Another distinguishable feature of the Rag Trade – certainly one of a kind – is that the majority of walls are made out of drawers, from floor to ceiling.