Visiting Dublin: top 5 heritage sites

Dublin may be famous for its pubs and nightlife, but there’s a lot more to do here than spend some time in the local watering holes (though that’s certainly well worth doing!). You see, Dublin has a really rich heritage, which means there are loads of fascinating historical sites to visit; I’ve put together a list of the top five to help you get an idea of where’s best to go.

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It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you visit Dublin on a cruise from Liverpool, you’ll likely have plenty of excursions to choose from that’ll take you to all the top attractions.

1) Dublin Castle

An absolute must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s heritage, Dublin Castle was, for 700 years, a stronghold of British power in Ireland. While it dates back to the 12th century, most of what you’ll see today was actually built in the 18th century.

One of the older parts of the castle is Bermingham Tower, which was created in 1331 and served as one of the stronghold’s main dungeon blocks. The lower portion has retained its medieval base, while the upper section is an 18th-century renovation.

Other highlights include the subterranean excavations of the old castle, which include Viking-built foundations.

2) Bewley’s Cafe

My next suggestion is Bewley’s Cafe, which opened in 1927. Still serving great tea, coffee and baked goods today, this establishment has its roots back in 1835, when Samuel and Charles Bewley imported thousands of chests of tea, directly flouting the monopoly of the East India Company.

The tea sold well, and eventually Bewley’s cafe opened as a result, with the family still being involved in its running to this day. This tasty slice of Dublin heritage serves tea, coffee and baked treats, as well as a Mediterranean menu.

3) Aldborough House

If you’re keen to see a historic house, then Aldborough House is the place to go, it being the last great mansion built in the city in the 18th century. It was constructed by the second Earl of Aldborough and Viscount Amiens Edward Stratford.

It wasn’t in family hands for very long, becoming a school, then a military barrack, a branch of the General Post Office and more. You’ll find it on Portland Row, where it’s home to some amazing architectural features, including a magnificent stone staircase.

4) Kilmainham Gaol

Of course, Dublin’s past hasn’t always been smooth, and a major part of its troubled history was its struggle for independence from England. This prison stands as a testament to those struggles, having once held the leaders of uprisings against English rule.

Indeed, the likes of Robert Emmet and Charles Stewart Parnell were held here, with leaders being imprisoned at Kilmainham following the uprisings of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916.

The biggest vacant building of its kind in Europe, the jail closed in 1924, and today you can take an excellent guided tour to find out more about its past and the stories it holds.

5) Trinity College and the Book of Kells

Trinity College Dublin is one of the city’s most popular attractions, known for its heritage and beautiful architecture. Perhaps equally famous, though, is something it displays – the Book of Kells.

Written around 800 AD by Irish monks, this is one of the world’s most beautiful illuminated manuscripts. Written in Latin, the book has 680 pages and relays the Four Gospels. You can see it in the Old Library, where it has been on display to visitors since the mid-19th century.

 

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