LivingTravelDublin's castle

Dublin's castle

If you walk down Dame Street from Trinity College to Christ Church Cathedral, you will pass Dublin Castle on your left. And I miss it. Although it is one of Dublin’s top ten sights, it is hidden away and not a castle in the classical sense, but the former seat of British power in Ireland should be on every agenda.

Pros

  • Two 13th century towers are part of Dublin’s rare medieval heritage.
  • A unique set of government buildings from the 18th century.
  • The state apartments include a throne brought by William of Orange and other symbols of British rule.

Cons

  • Visitors looking for a ‘royal’ castle will be disappointed.
  • Admission to State Apartments is per tour only.

Description

  • The Anglo-Norman castle is only in the form of two highly converted towers.
  • The redesign as government buildings date mainly from the 18th century and do not have the character of a fortress.
  • The richly decorated State Apartments are open to visitors (guided tours only).

Guide review

Originally built in the 13th century, the Anglo-Norman castle burned down in 1684. Sir William Robinson developed plans for a reconstruction. Without large defensive facilities and with the aim of providing the government with an excellent contemporary home. Thus was born the current Dublin Castle. Visitors will generally only notice that the Registry Tower is truly medieval. The adjoining “Royal Chapel” (rather its replacement, the Church of the Holy Trinity) was completed in 1814 and is some 600 years younger, but with a beautiful Neo-Gothic exterior and a hundred intricately carved heads.

When viewed from the park (which has a gigantic ‘Celtic’ spiral ornament that doubles as a helipad), the strange mix of styles becomes apparent. On the left, the 13th-century Birmingham Tower was converted into a dining room. Brightly colored but uninspiring facades follow, then the romantic Octagonal Tower (from 1812), the Georgia State Apartments and Record Tower (with the Garda Museum in the basement) and the Chapel complete the ensemble. The interior courtyards are dominated by bricks, quite a contrast.

While the exterior is generally open to the public, only the State Apartments inside Dublin Castle can be visited. This is strictly by guided tour only.

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