Dublin Castle#9 in Best Things To Do in Dublin
Right in the heart of the city, the site of the Dublin Castle has played a part in Ireland's history since the land was used by Vikings to build a fortress in A.D. 930. Parts of the castle were built and torn down through the ages, but the oldest remaining structure, the Record Tower, dates back to the 13th century.
In addition to having been a stronghold against foreign attacks on the city, the castle and its grounds have also been home to a prison, an office of record, a water station, a seat of parliament, a royal court for entertainment and a military residence – all before 1850. The castle grounds were also the site where the Easter Rebellion of 1916 began, and after five years of fighting, where the treaty that granted Irish independence was signed. Many previous visitors recommended taking the guided tour, which they say is more extensive and informative that the self-guided tour.
Today, Dublin Castle offers a mix of old and new. It serves many functions, from hosting foreign dignitaries and state dinners to housing some of Ireland's government offices and commercial space available for private events. The castle grounds also include preserved areas like the lavish State Apartments that were home to the Viceregal court from 1680 to 1830. What's more, the grounds are home to the world-famous Chester Beatty Library.
Dublin Castle is located just a few blocks west (about a 10-minute walk) of Trinity College and is open to the public daily from 9:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. You won't have to pay to explore the grounds, but if you'd like to take a peek inside, self-guided tours cost 7 euros (about $8) for adults and 3 euros (about $4) for kids ages 12 to 17. You can pick up a brochure at the ticket desk to help you navigate the state apartments and exhibitions. If you purchased a Dublin Pass, your admission fee is waived. If you'd like more historical background and access to the Viking excavation and chapel royal, opt for a 70-minute guided tour. Tours cost 10 euros (about $12) for adults and 4 euros (about $5) for kids ages 12 to 17. For more information, visit the castle's website.
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#1 Trinity College and The Book of Kells
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College is Ireland's oldest and most notable college. Among its alumni are such renowned writers as Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde. Today, visitors from around the world come to explore the college's verdant campus and towering Gothic-style halls.
But the real reason to visit is to take a gander inside the Old Library. These hallowed halls house an amazing collection of literature. Of all the books at the Old Library, the most famous and priceless one is the "Book of Kells." This illustrated version of the gospels was created around A.D. 800 by Celtic monks. The manuscripts' pages come to life with vibrantly hued depictions of Christ and his followers, bordered by intricate Celtic knots and other designs. Whether or not you're religious, previous visitors agreed that seeing the "Book of Kells" in person is truly a sacred experience. Although some visitors complained of crowds in the library, most agreed the "Book of Kells" is a must-see.
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