Dublin, the capital of Ireland.
Statue of Molly Malone
Free walking tour
A very fun thing to do is the "free" walking tour. Just go to the Irish House of Parliament on College Green. At 11 am, students will give walking tours of the city to improve their English language skills. When the tour is finished you can tip your guide based on your budget and how you experienced the tour. Totally optional!
During the tour, we saw most of Dublin's highlights. Things that are not on my list but which we also saw during the tour and are nice to mention:
- Statue of Molly Malone
This statue of a busty woman in a 17th-century dress can nowadays be found on the corner of Suffolk Street and St Andrew's st. The statue was placed for the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations and is based on a popular song set in Dublin. Apparently, the woman was a hawker during the day and a prostitute by night. Our guide told us that touching the breast would bring you luck, so we did of course. Since the bronze statue was already pretty wearing off on the bosom, I suggested we were definitely not the first handsy tourists to touch it.
- Spire of Dublin
This 120 meters high spire can be found on O'Connell Street. This piece of art is also called the Monument of Light and was part of an ongoing plan to upgrade O'Connell Street, which had lost a lot of its charm in the 70's/80's. As usual, the people of Dublin already came up with cynical nicknames way before the spire was even placed. Stiletto in the Ghetto or Erection at the Intersection are a few of them. It's a cool thing to see, but in the end, it's just huge needle, nothing more.
- General Post Office
Next to the spire is the General Post Office located which is the headquarters of the An Post. If you're into architecture, this building was the last Georgian public building built in the capital before it got destroyed by a fire during the Easter Rising. Only the majestic front facade survived and can be seen nowadays. In front of the building stood the Nelson's Pillar which was destroyed by an IRA-bomb and later got replaced by the spire.
- Temple bar area
The temple bar area is pretty famous and popular, especially among tourists. Lots of famous artists have their roots there or have performed in one of the bars. Since we were there in the morning, the place was pretty deserted but there is still a lot to see during the day. Like the streets that are still in their original medieval state, complete with the cobblestones patterns. There are also a lot of galleries and other cultural organizations in the area. At night you will find mostly tourists in the pubs since it's a popular nightlife area and there won't be many locals around.
- Dublin City Hall
We ended our tour here. Not the most interesting building but the big dome is fascinating.
General Post Office and the Spire
Christ Church Cathedral and the dome inside the City Hall
Christ Church Cathedral
Not the biggest church in Dublin (Saint Patrick's Cathedral is the biggest) but definitely the oldest and prettiest in my opinion. Even home to the largest and oldest crypt in Britain and Ireland. Most people love the interior, by I honestly enjoyed the exterior the most. It has a great atmosphere together with the surroundings. Don't forget to check out the fully integrated bridge that is built over the road and leads to the former synod hall.
Probably on everyone's list of recommendations but with a good reason. Irelands oldest University is founded in 1592 and mainly known for its extensive library that includes over five million books. Most famous is by far the Book of Kells.
Our guide from the free walking tour told some rules/ rumors that apparently apply to students but which are (luckily) never enforced. Like that it's illegal for students to enter the university without a sword, or that they are allowed to kill a person from the bell tower with bow and arrow on a particular day, without being charged with murder.
Shot of the entrance and on the right the library with the Oregon maple tree in front of it
Whilst writing this blog I read some sad news that the magnificent Oregon maple tree that stood in the middle of the universities grounds recently fell due to high winds. It was brought from America in the 1840's and was over 200 years old(!)
Queen of Tarts
If you're a fan of tarts you should definitely go to this place. Situated in the city center (next to the City Hall), they offer fresh tarts and other baked delicacies. Great place to grab a bite after you finished the walking tour!
Dublin Castle is strategically placed on a junction of the Liffey and Poddle rivers. Most of the buildings are from the 18th century aside from the 13th century Record Tower which originally belonged to an old Viking fortress which was built on the same spot. In the crypt of the castle, you can still find remains of this fortress' foundation.
There is also a garden around the castle which is a really nice place to relax.
Actually, there are four gardens. Three of them are memorial gardens.
At the heart of the gardens, you will find patterns of sea serpents cut into the lawn. Supposedly this garden is in or near the so-called 'black pool'. This is the place where the Vikings harbored their ships and established their trading base. Black pool means dubh linn in Irish, hence the city's name
Saldy I lost my photo's of the castle but here are some shots of the gardens
If you're in Dublin you have two choices. Visit the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson distillery, or both. But at least one of them. We visited the Guinness Storehouse which is located in St. James’s Gate Brewery (and will be for a while since the lease of this building has been signed for 9,000(!) years). It's more an experience center than a brewery nowadays and the tour will take you all the way up to the 7th floor, showing you every step and detail of the Guinness brewing process. You also get to pour your own pint which you can then drink in the rooftop bar (called the Gravity Bar) whilst enjoying a sweet 360 degrees view of Dublin.
Some exterior shots of the Guinness Storehouse
Some nice piece of carved wood inside the storehouse
Our self-made Guinness pints
Views of Dublin from the Gravity Bar
Last up is actually an odd man out since it's a bit located outside of Dublin. If you're done exploring Dublin I suggest you take the train to Howth. This small fishing-village is officially still part of Dublin but it surely doesn't feel that way. In half an hour you're standing on the coast with epic cliffs inviting you to stretch your legs. Howt is situated on a peninsula north-east of Dublin and attracts lots of day people. There are different hikes you can undertake. Free maps are available at the information center. In the harbor, you will find a lot of Fish and Chips stalls but I've heard it's better to get your meal somewhere else since it's not the best quality. The result of the increasing number of tourists I guess.
Shots of the harbor and just outside it
Cliffs at Howt and some buildings in the near surroundings
Hope you enjoyed my list of things I really enjoyed during my visit to Dublin. I would love to hear what you liked about the Irish capital! So feel free to leave a comment down below!
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