Trinity College Dublin
Ireland’s oldest still-surviving university, Trinity College Dublin has educated a steady stream of the country’s brightest minds since its establishment in 1592, from Oscar Wilde right through to 2017 Best Actress nominee Ruth Negga. It’s worth purchasing a €14 ticket for a guided tour of the entire historic campus, as this includes the €11 admission into the Old Library to see the 9th-century Book of Kells manuscript, regularly held up as Ireland’s finest national treasure.
The Samuel Beckett Bridge
A kilometre and a half (.9 miles) east of Trinity you’ll find the photogenic Samuel Beckett Bridge, designed by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. This impressive cable-stayed bridge references the Celtic harp, a national symbol associated with Ireland for centuries. Named after the Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett, it has become a favourite Dublin landmark since being opened to the public in 2009.
Just down Dame Street from Trinity’s front entrance is Dublin Castle, founded in 1204. This structure was the former seat of the UK government’s administration in Ireland, representing a major part of the city’s complicated history. Today, the sprawling 11-acre grounds house two museums – including the award-winning Chester Beatty Library – gorgeous gardens, cafés and modern government buildings. Visitors can explore much of the site for free, but you’ll need to join a guided tour to see inside most of the amazing buildings.
One of several Georgian garden squares on the south side of the city, Merrion Square is encircled by homes that were once home to many a prominent Dubliner. Oscar Wilde was born and grew up at Number One Merrion Square – just 150 metres (492 feet) from Trinity’s Lincoln Place entrance – and is commemorated with a statue in the corner of the garden opposite his former home, while the poet W. B. Yeats lived at Number 82. Daniel O’Connell, a leading figure in the fight for Catholic emancipation during the early 19th century, resided at Number 58.
A magnet for tourists, Temple Bar is known for its cobbled streets and buzzing nightlife scene, with a wealth of busy pubs and live music venues. Flanked by the River Liffey on one side and Dame Street on the other, this area nicknamed Dublin’s ‘Cultural Quarter’ is also home to independent boutiques and craft shops, an art house cinema, modern gallery spaces, and a theatre dating back to 1662.
It’s impossible to miss the Spire of Dublin, no matter where you are in the city centre. It was built during the early 2000s as a sleek replacement for Nelson’s Pillar – a granite column and statue bombed by Irish republicans in 1966 – as part of a revamp of historic O’Connell Street. Inspired by ‘the ever-changing light and composition of the Irish skies’, the towering pin-shaped monument was nominated for the Mies Van der Rohe Prize in 2005.