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The county of Cork with the equally named capital used to be also known as 'Rebel County'. The Corkonians are perhaps the most opinionated Irish and that says a lot, because the Irish people as a whole are known as people with a strong will. This county's residents were at the frontline in the fight about Ireland's independence. Though quirky, the people of Cork are very warm and welcoming. That, combined with beautiful historic buildings, an abundance of cultural events, and a very lively nightlife makes a city trip to Cork well worth the effort for everyone.
When you first visit Cork, a visit to the Vision Center is definitely recommended. It is housed in the St. Peter's Church and has, amongst other things, a scale model of the city so you can get an idea of the layout of Cork. There is a touchscreen too on which you can get tourist information, and there's pictures of the sights on display.
The Gothic Revival St. Fin Barr's Cathedral is named after the founder and patron saint of Cork. Pay particular attention to the lavish ceiling consisting of mosaics and marble from the Pyrenees. The other major church of Cork is St. Ann's Shandon. This church is older, built in 1772 and you can climb the tower. That tower is special, because two walls are built with red sandstone, the other two gray limestone. The eight bells of St. Ann's, the Bells of Shandon, are an unmistakable part of Cork; they've been sounding their bells over the city more than two hundred years.
The Cork wealth was largely based on the butter market. From the end of the eighteenth century, large quantities of Irish butter was shipped worldwide from the market in Cork. In the Butter Museum you will learn all about the history of this trade. There's butter still being made the old fashioned way: with a lot of salt, because else the butter would spoil during the long trek.
From the Elizabeth Fort you have a beautiful view over the city. Inside this fort there's a Market Festival every Sunday in August and in the first two weeks of September. Every week there's a different theme, with extras in period clothing, and a market where you can buy authentic Irish products. There are food stalls where you can taste local delicacies too.
Cork has a many cultural events. From mid-June to mid-July, the city is the scene of the Midsummer Festival. On various stages there are performances: theater, music, poetry and more. From classical to popular and experimental. At the start of October there's the annual Film Festival and in the last weekend of that month Cork is dedicated to jazz during the Jazz Festival, one of the largest in Europe.
Life inside and outside the prison walls in Cork during the eighteenth and nineteenth century is portrayed in Cork City Gaol. In the cells of the former prison - resembling a castle - some characters are still doing time, albeit wax characters... Outside there is a real scaffold! In the same complex - inside the former home of the governor - you can find The Radio Museum Experience. This museum is dedicated to the history of the invention of Marconi (and his Irish connections). It also houses a large part of the archives of the RTE (the Irish state broadcaster).
Of course Cork doesn't lack genuine Irish pubs and restaurants, but it's also a destination for foodies. The city has a surprisingly large number of excellent restaurants. Typical dishes of the region are black pudding, sheep stomach and the locally brewed beer Beamish. A good place to try those specialities is the English Market, another must in Cork. This covered market in Victorian style is the main market for fresh produce: vegetables, fruits, herbs, meat and fish. The best restaurants get their ingredients here. This market is especially buzzing on Fridays and Saturdays.
At fifteen kilometers east of the town lies Cobh. From this port, some 2.5 million Irish departed to America, hoping to find a better future there than in the - then- penniless Ireland. This is also where the shipping company White Star Line was established, owner of the Titanic which sank in 1912 on its maiden voyage. The terminal is now a restaurant and bar, where the memory of the Titanic is kept alive. The Cunard Room of the restaurant is a replica of the Veranda Cafe on the Titanic.
In the area of Cork you will find that typical Irish landscape of rolling green hills, rugged coasts, old castles and picturesque towns. A rental car is ideal to explore the beautiful surroundings. Near Cork you will find the oldest castle in the country: Blarney Castle. The main attraction of this castle is the Kissing the Stone ritual. Not easy to do by the way, because after you have climbed the steep stairs you can only kiss the stone by lying on your back whilst someone else is holding you. Anyway, if you can manage that, you are suddenly an articulate person. At least, according to the legend...
Closer to the center of Cork is Blackrock Castle. A beautiful castle, where old and new have been united. Blackrock Castle houses an interactive astronomical center.
You will need a so-called Parking Disc to park in the center of Cork. You can buy this from shops with a special logo and they are available individually or per set of five. It's a scratch card on which you scratch your time of arrival. How long you're allowed to park on the particular street is indicated by signs. You can find a large parking garage on North Main Street. There's parking garages scattered around the center as well. Situated in the south of the city is a P+R, from where a bus departs towards the center every ten minutes.
The airport is located six kilometers south of the city. Cork Airport is easily accesible with a rental car: the N27 leads from the city directly to the airport. The exit to the airport is clearly indicated on the Southern Ring Road as well.