Best Places To Visit To Learn About Dublin
If, like me, you enjoy finding out about the history of the places you visit on holiday, Dublin should definitely be on your list of cities to head to. The Irish capital has a rich – and at times tumultuous – past that has left a vast cultural legacy just begging to be uncovered. Whether you’re visiting Dublin on a short city break or have booked car hire from Dublin Airport as a means of exploring the wider region, you’d really be missing out if you didn’t spend at least an afternoon learning more about the city.
Fantastic museums, landmarks and other cultural institutions can be found all over Dublin, but the following are some of the places you definitely ought to check out.
National Library of Ireland
Established in 1877, the National Library of Ireland contains the most comprehensive collection of Irish heritage anywhere in the world – although, given its name, that shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise! With its collection consisting of over eight million items, from photographs and maps to books and periodicals, you’re bound to find some element of the city’s history that fascinates you in the Kildare Street institution.
In addition, there’s an exhibition dedicated to Dublin poet William Butler Yeats where you can see rare books and photos of how the capital used to look. The library’s prints and drawings collection, meanwhile, accounts for 100,000 works – including 17th-century pieces and modern art – with officials noting this acts as a visual record of Ireland’s history for the past five centuries. There really is a lot to see here, so the library can’t be recommended enough. Perhaps best of all though, it’s free to enter!
Dublin Castle has played a pivotal role in the city’s history – and Ireland as a whole – ever since it was built in 1204 and has been continually occupied for more than 800 years.
Over the centuries it has been the venue for numerous state events, including presidential inaugurations, a function that it continues to perform to this day. Spend a few minutes wandering through the grounds, before going on a guided tour of the state apartments. Much of Dublin Castle continues to be used for government purposes, so although you won’t be able to go everywhere, but there is lots to explore over the 44,000 sq m complex.
One must-see is the Garda Museum, situated in a 13th-century Norman tower, where you can find out more about the police force and how the building was once a high-security jail used to house criminals. You should also check out the Chapel Royal, an ornate Gothic structure that contains the coats of arms of all the local justiciars, lord deputies and lord lieutenants from 1172 right through to 1922.
Not only is Dublin’s City Hall the venue for local council meetings, it’s also an incredibly beautiful and historic building that’s well worth seeing in order to learn more about the region’s history.
However, it isn’t just the events taking place inside that make it a worthwhile attraction to visit, but also the fantastic Georgian exterior. Many people consider it to be one of the finest pieces of architecture in the entire city, with its 12-column rotunda especially wonderful, and you can step inside to wander through a multimedia exhibition that traces the evolution of the city over the past 1,000 years.