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The city of (almost) a thousand pubs, the city of vivid culture, the city of writers, the green city. There are many nicknames applicable to Dublin, but the nice thing is that none of the aforementioned qualifications prevails. Well, maybe with the exception of those pubs... But let's face it: what could be more fun after hours of wandering through the city, through museums, through parks or along shops than to recover in a traditional pub where Guinness flows freely?
The River Liffey is the lifeblood of the city with the historic heart of Dublin on the south bank. Here stands Dublin Castle, on the spot where the Normans built their first fortress. Of that original fortress only the Record Tower remains. There are parts of the original Norman castle and the viking walls still visible too. The rest of the castle dates from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In other words, the time when the Brits ruled Ireland. So it was a building hated among the Irish, a symbol of oppression.
Further east you find the most beautiful squares of the city, the great Merrion Square and the smaller Fitzwilliam Square, with beautiful Georgian houses. A wine merchant used to live In the house at number 29 on Merrion square and it has been restored to the smallest detail to give an impression of his life and an eighteenth century household. During summer months there are regular concerts in the park on this square.
The patron saint of Ireland naturally has a church dedicated to him in Dublin, and it is also the largest church in the city. St Patrick's Cathedral is the place where this holy baptized Irishmen. On the west side of the nave you can see a stone with a Celtic cross. This stone was used to cover the source. The Christ Church Cathedral is older, some parts of it date back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The majority of it is more recent. A bridge connects the cathedral to the Synod Hall. Here you can look at an interesting multimedia exhibition about the history of Dublin.
Temple Bar is a neighborhood in the old city center on the southbank with pubs (often with live music), comedy clubs, restaurants and art galleries. You will also see many street performers. It is a lively entertainment district where the narrow streets are still paved with cobblestones. From this area you can use the Ha'Penny Bridge to cross the river. This bridge carries that name because it used to cost you a halfpenny in toll to cross it. In the evening this bridge is beautifully lit.
When on the northbank you will notice the huge steel needle, at the junction of O'Connell Street and Henry Street. It is a work of art, placed in 2003, and officially titled The Monument of Light, because a light shines at the top. Dubliners also refer to it as The Spire or the less flattering The Stiletto of the Ghetto.
Phoenix Park was originally a royal hunting ground, but it is now one of the largest city parks in Europe. It's particularly busy in the weekends. People play a game of cricket, football or polo, or enjoy a picnic amidst the deer that roam freely. Inside the seventeenth century Ashtown Castle you can find a visitor center. Here you can obtain information on when and where outdoor concerts are held in the park. Located on the east side of Phoenix Park is the Dublin Zoo. After a thorough renovation, this is once again a nice zoo to visit, especially if you're traveling to Dublin with children.
Dublin is a green city with beautiful parks and gardens. One of the nicest is St. Stephen's Green, which was a gift from the Guinness family. Besides a lot of trees, shrubs and flower beds you can also find statues of James Joyce and Henry Moore here. In the surroundings of the Irish capital you can discover the green Ireland too. For example the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin. One of the most scenic routes to drive in a rental car is the so-called 'Military Road'. The narrow and winding road leads through a stunning setting.
To the southeast of Dublin are seaside resorts where you feel like you're not in Ireland anymore. They look more like the beaches of the Mediteranean. The beaches begin at Killiney, about a 20 minute drive from Dublin, and continue up to Bray. These places are connected by the coastal road Vico Road. In Bray you'll find the National Sea Life Centre, which has as its central theme the underwater life of the Irish Sea.
If you take the M9 from Dublin to the southwest you arrive in Kilkenny, the capital of Ireland in the Middle Ages. A beautiful old town, including a Norman castle and the eight century old St. Canice's Cathedral.
There's much to discover north of Dublin too, talk a walk along the rugged cliffs of the peninsula Howth or watch the six thousand years old tombstones in Bruna Boinne and Knowth.
The center of town is quite busy. Moreover, lots of streets have a set one-way traffic system, which makes it difficult to determine your route. Around the center you can park on the street by buying a ticket from a vending machine. If you exceed the parking time you risk a wheel clamp and a large fine. It's better to put your rental car in one of the parking garages.Airport
The Dublin airport is located ten kilometers north of the Irish capital. Dublin Airport is easy to get to with a rental car: it is located right next to the M1 motorway, which connects to the ring road of Dublin (M50)