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Dublin has been in the news since the 9th century, and while traces of its Viking past have been largely washed away, the city is a living museum of its history since then, with medieval castles and cathedrals on display alongside the architectural splendours of its 18th-century heyday, when Dublin was the most handsome Georgian city of the British Empire and a fine reflection of the aspirations of its most privileged citizens. How power was wrested from their hands is another story, and you'll learn that one in its museums and on its walking tours.
Here are our top 5 things to do in Dublin:
Trinity College Dublin is Ireland's most prestigious university, a collection of elegant Georgian and Victorian buildings, cobbled squares and nature-friendly wildflower meadows that make for a delightful place to wander. Located next to Grafton Street in the heart of the city, Trinity College is one of Ireland’s most visited sites, attracting more than two million visitors per year. Its biggest draws are the barrel-vaulted Long Room in Old Library, one of the most photographed rooms in Dublin, and the Book of Kells, the beautifully illuminated Gospel manuscript that dates back to the 9th-century and is one of Ireland's greatest cultural treasures.
Old Library & Book of Kells
The star of the show is the Book of Kells, a breathtaking, illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. Unfortunately, only a few pages are ever on display at one time and in busy times it can be just a quick look for visitors. You can linger more in the magnificent Long Room, which houses around 200,000 of the library's oldest and rarest volumes.
The most popular attraction in Dublin is this multimedia homage to Guinness. An old fermentation plant in the St James's Gate Brewery has been converted into a seven-storey museum devoted to the beer, the company’s history, how the beer is made and how it became the brand it is today. The top floor Gravity Bar is an atrium bar, where you can test your pouring power and drink a pint; just below it is an excellent restaurant for lunch.
A magnificent Caravaggio and a breathtaking collection of works by Jack B Yeats – William Butler Yeats' younger brother – are the main reasons to visit the National Gallery, but certainly not the only ones. Its excellent collection is strong in Irish art, and there are also high-quality collections of every major European school of painting.
The Temple Bar
The most photographed pub facade in Dublin, perhaps the world, the Temple Bar (aka Flannery's) is smack bang in the middle of the tourist precinct and is usually chock-a-block with visitors. It's good craic, though, and presses all the right buttons, with traditional musicians, a buzzy atmosphere and even a beer garden.