Dublin Castle – Ireland’s main government building
Dublin Castle is Ireland’s central landmark and one of the few places of national importance where the average tourist can go. It’s located in Dublin’s historic center and has graced the ancient city for over 900 years.
The main government building complex was built in 1204 as a defensive fortress. During the Middle Ages Dublin Castle became the main British outpost in Ireland – until 1922 it housed British monarchs and viceroys of the kings, state meetings and ceremonies, parliaments and courts.
Interesting fact! Of the entire complex built in Dublin in the 13th century, only the Record Tower has survived to this day. The rest of the castle was built of wood and burned in a fire in 1678.
In the 1930s, when Ireland gained independence, the castle was turned over to the country’s first official government, led by Michael Collins. A little later the inaugurations of Irish presidents began to be held here, and in 1938 Dublin Castle became the residence of one of them – Hyde Douglas. From that moment the Dublin defensive complex became a place of holding summits and intergovernmental meetings, receptions of foreign delegations and solemn events.
Today Dublin Castle is one of the most popular attractions in Ireland. Here, in the royal chapel is an art center, in the dungeon are regularly held exhibitions and concerts, the library keeps unique old printed books, and in the museum – ancient exhibits of Eastern origin.
What interesting things is Dublin Castle Ireland hiding? How much does it cost to get in and when is the best time to come? All the detailed information about Dublin’s main attraction and useful tips before visiting – in this article.
Structure of the castle
This part of the castle is specifically for those who like history, ancient interiors and beautiful artwork. The State Apartments were originally used as the residence of the Vice President and other executive officials, but today it is also the seat of the Dublin EU, the Irish Parliament Meetings and the Inaugurations of the Rulers.
The Portrait Gallery
Tip! The State Apartments are the only part of Dublin Castle that you can visit from the comfort of your own home. See what’s inside at the attraction’s official website, www.dublincastle.ie/the-state-apartments/.
The State Apartments include 9 rooms, each dedicated to a particular theme or period in the history of Dublin and Ireland:
- The State Apartments Galleries – exquisite chambers where the Vice President and his family lived;
- The James Connolly Room – during World War I it was the home of the Dublin Military Hospital. James Connolly, one of the members of the Irish Easter Rising of 1916, was also treated here;
- The Apollo Room – the unique ceiling of this room can be viewed for hours; The State Drawing Room
- The State Drawing Room, the living room of the wives of the Vice-Presidents, was used to receive important guests. Today in this part of the castle you can see a large collection of old paintings and portraits of the ruling families of Ireland;
- The Throne Room is where the British monarchs held their receptions;
- The Portrait Gallery contains over 20 portraits painted in the 17th and 18th centuries. Formerly used as a dining room;
- The Wedgwood Room is an ancient billiard room used by the Irish aristocracy; The Gothic Room
- The Gothic Room is the only round room in the castle built in Gothic style for private dinners. The walls are decorated with a collection of religious and mythological paintings of the 18th century.
- St Patrick’s Hall is the largest ceremonial hall in Ireland. For many years it was the meeting place of the knightly order, and for more than a century it was used for intergovernmental meetings and presidential inaugurations.
Excavations of the 20th century revealed a whole system of defensive constructions under Dublin Castle, built by the Vikings almost 1000 years ago. Only the ruins of the 13th century powder tower, the remains of the medieval castle and its main gate and many moats have survived. There are guided tours.
Is it worth it? If you have a limited amount of time, leave your visits to the dungeon for “dessert”. It’s just a pile of rubble, and while the history is fascinating to hear, the other parts of Dublin Castle are more interesting.
Built in 1230, the tower is the only part of the ancient Dublin Castle that survived. Its walls are 4 meters thick and 14 meters high.
Throughout its history the tower was used for different purposes:
- Initially the armor and clothes of the knights were stored here, in one part there was the treasury and the closet of the royal family;
- In the 15th century the tower became a place of imprisonment for criminals;
- In the 17th century it was renamed to The Gunner’s Tower and served as headquarters for the guards;
- From 1811 to 1989 it served as a state archive and treasury.
Note! At the moment you can not go into the tower – it is closed for major restoration.
The first chapel on this site was built in 1242, but was destroyed in the 17th century. It was rebuilt by 1814 and became popular after a visit from King George IV of Britain. In the middle of 20th century, the chapel became a Roman Catholic church in Dublin, but today it serves as a simple landmark.
Interesting to know! A special feature of the chapel are the unique stained glass windows and galleries depicting many rulers of Ireland.
Dublin Castle is adorned with beautiful green gardens, the creation of which has not stopped since the early 17th century. They are located to the south of the royal chapel and the state apartments, and are surrounded on all sides by stone walls. Behind the main and largest garden are four smaller ones – called the Four Seasons. In each of them are unusual sculptures of people whose mark is forever on Irish history.
In remembrance! One of the gardens is a memorial garden – the names of all the Irish police officers who died in the line of duty are inscribed here.
The centerpiece of Dublin Castle’s gardens is a grassy ravine with sea serpent patterns, the site of a Viking trading and naval base more than 1,000 years ago. This garden is called Dubh Linn Garden, and it is thanks to it that modern Dublin got its name.
Dublin Castle is open daily from 9:45 to 17:45. Please note: you can only enter it until 17:15. You can choose one of two options for your visit:
- Guided Tour. Lasts 70 minutes and includes a visit to the state apartments, the royal chapel and the dungeon. Costs 10€ for adults, 8€ for students and seniors, 4€ for children 12-17 years old.
- Self-guided walk. Tourists can only visit public exhibitions and state apartments. Admission is €7 for adults, €6 and €3 for concessionary travelers.
You can buy tickets on the official website of Dublin Castle – www.dublincastle.ie.
Important: The Royal Gardens and Library are open to all comers, they are not included in the list of paid attractions of the complex.
The castle is located at Dame St Dublin 2. The numbers of suitable buses and streetcars can be found in the relevant section on the castle’s website.
The prices on the page are for June 2018.
- If you are going to Dublin Castle in large groups, buy a family ticket. It costs 24€ for a guided tour or 17€ for admission for two adults and five children under 18;
- There is a luggage room, a souvenir kiosk, a small museum, and a cafe on site. If you come with your own food, go straight to the castle gardens – there are plenty of benches and a few tables;
- At the ticket office you can ask for a free brochure in Russian with the main information about Dublin Castle;
- If you are going on a self-guided tour, download in advance the Dublin Castle App with a detailed audio guide to the state apartments.
Dublin Castle is a must see in Ireland. Experience the atmosphere of the Middle Ages! Have a great trip!
Interesting and high quality video: Dublin city presentation for tourists. Watch in 4K.
Author: Elena Lunina
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