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Dublin Castle is a major Irish government complex and tourist attraction erected in the 13th century that is considered as the heart of history in Dublin.
Visit the centre of history in Dublin, the Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle's history begins from 1204, when Ireland was still under the British. Until 1922, the castle was used as a residence for the British monarch's Irish representative, also known as the Viceroy of Ireland, and as a ceremonial and administrative centre. In April 1684, the castle was caught on fire that caused severe damage to many parts of the building. The castle then rebuilt with different style, though you can still see some parts that was built with medieval and Viking structures. The renewal also added a suite of grand reception rooms known as the State Apartments. When the Irish got their independence, the castle was considered as closely associated, making it an important part of the country. Thus, a tradition of state ceremony has been maintained at the Castle until now.
Since the beginning until now, Dublin Castle has many roles, where it was originally built as a fort for the Norman city of Dublin. The castle then transformed to an official residence of Viceroy of Ireland and the office of the Chief Secretary of Ireland. Before having their own building, Dublin Castle also hosts parliament and law courts. The castle was then decided to be a place for inauguration for Irish Presidents in 1938, where the first President, Douglas Hyde, inaugurated here. Nowadays, apart for being tourist destination, Dublin Castle is also used for hosting official state visits, including more informal foreign affairs engagements, state banquets, and Government policy launches. The castle is also the central base for the European Presidency hosted by Ireland approximately every 10 years.
Thanks to the excavations in the past, now you can see the parts of the structure from the medieval era along with the remains of some of Viking Dublin's original defenses below the Dublin Castle. These defenses appeared as an embankment covered with stone that is a section that has been preserved within the massive circular walls of the thirteenth-century Powder Tower. Inside, you can see the Castle's medieval curtain wall with a postern gate and a set of steps that will take you to the original moat. Other features from the medieval era that you can see here is a part of the wall from the early town with an archway that gives a way to the moat to pass under it.
Even though many parts of the original castle were destroyed because of the fire, the Medieval Tower that is located in the area of the Dublin Castle remains intact until now. The tower was constructed from 1204-1208 with 4.8 metres thick. The tower was also used for many purposes in the past. At the beginning, it was used as the wardrobe of the king to store armour, clothes, and treasure. Later on, the tower was used as a prison. During the seventeenth century, the tower was called as the Gunner's Tower because it was used by the Master Gunner of Ireland. In 1881, the tower was used to store state papers and records, including ancient manuscripts. In the same year, the height of the tower was raised and the parapet was crapped with new masonry battlements.
Since 1242, there has been a chapel inside the Dublin Castle. However, the chapel that is present now originated in 1814, designed by Francis Johnston and was opened as the Anglican chapel of the Viceroy on Christmas Day in the same year. While the name Chapel Royal appeared after King George IV attended a service on 2 September 1821. The chapel was put to rest after the independence of Ireland in 1922, and was opened again as a Roman Catholic Church in 1943. The chapel was decorated with stained glass windows and coats of arms that represent Ireland's Viceroys, including the last Viceroy, Lord Fitz Alan Howard. His coat of arms was installed in the last available window in 1922.
Located on the south of the Chapel Royal are the gardens of Dublin Castle. At the entrance, there is the wrought-iron gate of Celtic-inspired spirals. On each corner of the site, you will find four smaller gardens, each decorated with a sculpture. Three of the smaller gardens are also memorial gardens. The first is dedicated to an investigative journalist, Veronica Guerin. The second is to commemorate the Special Olympics held in 2003 that involved 30.000 volunteers. The third garden, that is also the largest, is the Garda Memorial Garden that has been redesigned and completed in 2009. At the center part of the gardens, you can see patterns representing sea serpents are cut into the lawn that is located near the original black pool.
How to Get Tickets?
Tickets can be bought on site. You can also enter for free using the OPW Heritage Card or the Dublin Pass. If you are coming in a large group, then you will need to do an advance booking by sending an e-mail to the operators. You can also get special offer for pre-booked tours. Buy your tickets online on this website to get more deals and save more time later.
How To Get Around?
To get around, you will have to go by foot. In average, the tour to Dublin Castle will take about 70 minutes.
What Should I Wear?
There is specific dress code to visit this place. Dress casually and comfortably. But do wear layered clothes or bring your cardigan or jacket since it might get cold. Do wear comfortable walking shoes that are also water-resistant like boots.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Dublin is during summer, which is from May to August. It's when the weather is a bit warmer than the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the best time to visit Dublin Castle is in the morning or late before closing time. Do note that the castle can be very crowded during weekend, especially in the summer season.
Will I Need a Guide?
You can go and explore the Dublin Castle without a guide by taking the brochure or get information from Dublin Castle App. If you want to take the guided tours from the castle, you will have to pay extra charge for the guide.
How To Get There?
There are many options available to get to the Dublin Castle. You can go by bus number 9, 14, 15, 15A, 15B, 16, 65, 68, 83, 122, 140 that stops nearby George's street, or bus number 13, 27, 40, 49, 54A, 56A, 77A, 123, 150, 151, and 747 that stops nearby Dame Street. You can also go by tram by stopping at St Stephen's Green on Green Line or Jervis on Red Line.
As Dublin Castle is a working Irish Government building, security, access to rooms and opening arrangements may be subject to change at short notice.