Producing notable literary figures like Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats, Dublin has a luscious cultural history that dates back to its origin as a Viking settlement. With beautiful gardens to explore and a wealth of art ranging from galleries to sculptures and outdoor installations to view, and some of the best shopping imaginable, there is always something to do in Dublin.
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Dublin, the capitol of Ireland, is situated at the mouth of the River Liffey, split into two parts: Northside and Southside. With an urban population of over 1.3 million, there is always something to do or somewhere to be. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through Phoenix Park, one of Europe’s largest enclosed recreational spaces. Measuring at 1,752 acres, Phoenix Park is home to a herd of Fallow Deer that have inhabited the park since the 1660’s when they were introduced. Phoenix Park also contains the Dublin Zoo, the largest zoo in Ireland and home to some 400 animals.
St. Stevens Green is another beautiful park found in Dublin. One of the city’s ancient commons, St Stevens Green spans 22 acres and first opened to the public in 1880; in it you can find playgrounds, statues, and even a garden for the blind, one of the most unique features about the park. Scented plants that can withstand handling are labeled in braille making it possible for anyone to enjoy St Stevens Green. After a warm afternoon in the garden you can pop over to Grafton Street, one of the principle shopping streets in Dublin and adjacent to the Green. Named after the 1st Duke of Grafton, Grafton Street is home to many retail stores and restaurants; you can often see street performers, known as bruskers, preforming poetry and music.
If you are looking for a night out, the Temple Bar area is located on the southbank of the river Liffey, and is viewed as Dublin’s cultural quarter. The area contains an endless plethora of options for an incredible night on the town. Porterhouse Temple Bar serves up a tasty selection of their own brews. Opening in 1996, they became Dublin’s first pub brewery. Try their Plain Porter, a two time gold winner at the International Brewing Awards (the Oscars of the beer world). Or check out The Temple Bar Pub; with a heated beer garden, an extensive food and drink menu, daily live music, and more whiskeys to choose from than imaginable Temple Bar Pub will not disappoint.
The Dublin Castle, founded in 1204 as a defensive fortification after the Norman Invasion of Ireland, is an Irish government complex as well as a popular destination rich with Dublin’s past with much to offer its visitors. Within the castle grounds you can see the Chapel Royal, which has been restored to its 19th century state, although services are no longer held in it. The crypt of the Chapel Royal is often used for cultural events just as the Dublin Castle is often used for State dinners. Explore The Castle Gardens, a staple at the Dublin Castle dating back to the early years of the 17th century, contains five gardens in total, and each garden has a specially commissioned work of sculpture. The Garda Memorial Garden located in the Castle Gardens honors the deaths of the members of the Gardaí, or Irish police, killed in the line of duty.
At the former sight of Nelson’s Pillar on O’Connell street you can find The Spire of Dublin: a 390 ft. high stainless steel monument. Also known as “The Monument of Light” because it lights up at its base and the top, the Spire was commissioned in 1999 as part of a street layout redesign. You can still view the remains of Nelson’s Pillar at the Dublin Civic Museum. Located in the former City Assembly house, the museum contains paintings, photos, newspaper clippings, and an array of other objects depicting Dublin from viking times to the 21st century. Attracting an average of 500,000 visitors per year, The Book of Kells is another piece of Irish heritage found in Dublin. An illuminated manuscript depicting the four gospels of the New Testament as well as prefatory text, the Book of Kells is regarded by many as Ireland’s finest national treasure and is located at Trinity College Library, where is has been since it was transported from the Monastery of Kells.
Dublin happens to be the country’s capitol for contemporary art, so spend a day perusing the many art galleries located in the city. The Kerlin Gallery is found near Grafton street and is known as one of Ireland’s leading galleries. The exhibition program at the gallery has featured a number of incredible artists: Andy Warhol, Sean Scully, and, native to Ireland, Dorothy Cross to name a few. Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, located in the Charlemont house built in 1763 was founded over 100 years ago by art collector Hugh Lane with the intention of making it a temporary space for his art collection. One of the most famous works found within the gallery is the recreation of Francis Bacon’s studio: books, slashed canvases, material, photo collections, and all.
A Northern European voyage with Windstar Cruises has something for everyone aboard the ship. Enjoy the scenery of countries few visit, because with Windstar Cruises’ unique itineraries you will be transported to mountain towns, isolated waterfalls, and quiet country lanes, not just the tourist hubs. For more information on Windstar Cruises and their offerings, visit them at www.windstarcruises.com
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