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Historical Walk In Dublin

Updated on March 20, 2017

Wandering in Dublin

Few cities make history accessible as well as Dublin does. Just walking around the city, you can see buildings and neighborhoods that date back centuries and that open up a fascinating history. If you decide to take a historical walk around Dublin, you’ll gain insight into historical developments such as medieval architecture, the Potato Famine, Ireland’s War of Independence, and much more.

How to tour the history of Dublin

If you want to see Dublin’s historical side, you can opt to do it yourself or join one of the many historical walking tours offered around the city. Most organized tours take about 2 hours and cost between roughly €10 and €20. The big benefit of a guided tour is that you’ll be walking around with someone who knows a lot about Dublin’s history. Many tour companies hire recent history graduates from Irish universities. This means you’ll learn a lot and be able to get the most out of the sites you see. Some tours also include admittance to a handful of sites along the way.

If you want to take a guided historical tour, companies such as Historical Walking Tours of Dublin and Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin are popular choices. You may prefer, however, to go on a self-guided historical walk around Dublin. This will allow you to go at your own pace, spending as much time at each site as you like. You’ll also be able to stop into any pubs, cafes, or shops that catch your eye along the way. If you’re managing your own tour, make sure you include the sites listed below. If you’re planning to join a guided tour, these are many of the sites you can expect to see.

Trinity College

Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest university, founded in 1592. It’s worth seeing for the architecture alone. Beautiful stone buildings are arranged around green quadrangles. Although located in the heart of Dublin, the campus is a small center of tranquility. As a tourist attraction, Trinity College is most famous for possessing the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript containing four of the Gospels from the Bible. The Book of Kells is perhaps the most famous illuminated manuscript in the world, and it is a stunning example of the arts of illumination and calligraphy.

Although the exact date of composition is uncertain, historians estimate that the Book of Kells was created in the 9th century. If you visit the Trinity College library, you’ll be able to see a true piece of history and artwork. The Book of Kells is part of an exhibit at Trinity, so leave aside about an hour to see it, as it is often crowded. Most tours will not include entrance to see the book, so if you are taking a guided tour, you should plan to come back to see the Book of Kells another time.

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Old Parliament Houses

In the early 18th century, the Irish Parliament decided to construct a new parliament building in Dublin. It was actually the first two-chamber building created specifically for use by a parliament, not only in the United Kingdom, but in the world. The building was constructed with long pews where members of Parliament would sit and face each other. The Irish Parliament met there until the Act of Union in 1800, which dissolved the Parliament.

In 1803 the Bank of Ireland bought the building, and it is still used as a bank today. However, it is open to the public, and much of the original architecture, including the entire House of Lords chamber, is intact. From the outside, the Parliament building has an impressive façade with tall stone columns. If it looks familiar when you see it, it’s because both the British Museum and the US Capitol Building drew inspiration from it.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar is a historic neighborhood along the River Liffey. It dates all the way back to medieval Dublin, when it was a suburb outside the main city walls. It began to rise to prominence again in the 17th century, when wealthy families began building houses and ornate gardens in the neighborhood.

In the 1980s, low prices drew in artists, galleries, and small shops, and Temple Bar gradually developed as a cultural hub. That legacy is strong today, and Temple Bar is famous for its art galleries, restaurants, and pubs. It’s a lively and interesting area to walk through during the day. If you’re looking for an energetic nightlife in the evening (and don’t mind a crowd of tourists), this is the place to come.

Christ Church Cathedral

If you enjoy beautiful churches, you’ll love Christ Church Cathedral. Christ Church was founded around 1030, making it almost 500 years old. In its long history, it’s been host to many kings and queens. The building was renovated during the Victorian period, so the current building is a fascinating mix of medieval and Victorian architecture.

Inside, you can visit the tomb of the warlord Strongbow (whom the cider gets its name from), an extensive crypt featuring the famous mummified “Cat and the Rat,” and the cathedral’s treasury. Even if you only see it from the outside, the cathedral is highly impressive.

Dublin Castle

When you think about Dublin’s history, Dublin Castle may be the first thing you think of. The castle is an impressive site, and as the long-standing seat of British government, it has a fascinating history. The original Dublin Castle was founded in 1204 for King John, who was the first Lord of Ireland.

Since then, the castle has served as the seat of government for the English and the British. Most of the current castle buildings were constructed in the 18th century. Today, the castle contains a set of ornate state apartments used for state ceremonies. The apartments are also open to visitors.

Grafton Street

Grafton Street is another famous historical area, known primarily for its shopping. The street was built in 1708, and it gradually evolved from an upscale residential street to a busy commercial area. Today, most of the street is open only to pedestrians, making it ideal for walking around and looking into the shops.

There are a few great site-seeing gems along Grafton Street, including the Trinity College Provost’s House (dating back to the 18th century), St Stephen’s Green at the south end, and College Green at the north end. In between, you’ll find lots of high-end shops, cafes, and buskers performing for the crowds.

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