Temple Bar

Historical Sights in Dublin: A Walking Tour Exploration

The beauty of Dublin’s cosy charm is that it can be easily explored; whether on foot, sight-seeing bus or tram, getting around this small city is a breeze. But for those of you who like to take things at your own pace while discovering the historical sights in Dublin, a personal walking tour of the city is the best way to drink in the city’s magnificence on your own schedule. When enjoying one of our gorgeous serviced apartments in Dublin, there is no rush to cram all of your sightseeing into one day, meaning you can mix and match as you go – from trying out the best bars, to indulging in some prolonged photography sessions for Instagram. Get your walking boots on as we begin our Citybase Walking Tour of Dublin.

Dublin Writers Museum

18 Parnell Square N, Rotunda

Writer's museum historical sights in Dublin
The Dublin Writers Museum begins our tour with elegance and style

Dublin is famed for its talented authors, poets and playwrights, and so it’s only fitting that we begin our tour at the Dublin Writers Museum. Occupying an original 18th century house, the museum holds significance for its historical architecture alone.  But the true spectacle of this, one of Dublin’s historic buildings, is its incredible collection of original first editions, artefacts and letters. With works from literary heavyweights such as Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift and James Joyce, this is certainly one of many historical sights in Dublin you shouldn’t miss. Also directly opposite the museum is the Garden of Remembrance: dedicated to those who gave their lives in the name of Irish freedom and providing a place of peaceful reflection and solitude.

St Mary’s Abbey

Off Capel Street

historical sights in Dublin St Mary's Abbey
Founded by the French Cistercian order of monks in 1147, St Mary’s Abbey is a little known historical treasure

Taking a brief detour to the west, we now turn right onto Parnell Street and keep heading south towards Capel Street. Down one of the side streets lies a hidden gem, unknown to many Dubliners and tourists alike. St Mary’s Abbey dates back to 1147, and following Henry VIII’s Reformation act was dissolved in 1539. Today all that remains is the Chapter House, but this ancient construction is well worth visiting for being one of the lesser known and most remarkable historical sights in Dublin. Walking back towards O’Connell Street also provides the opportunity to sample one of the city’s many cafes, visit Jervis Shopping Centre for a quick spree, or even pop in for some fun and games at the National Leprechaun Museum.

General Post Office

O’Connell Street Lower

GPO Dublin
The impressive facade of the General Post Office, with The Spire to the right

No trip to appreciate the many Dublin historical places would be complete without a stop at the General Post Office. Conveniently located on Dublin’s main thoroughfare and in plain view of The Spire, the General Post Office is a beautiful 19th century building boasting impressive Greek Revival style architecture. Besides the building’s aesthetic splendour, its historical significance cannot be overemphasised. It acted as the main stronghold of the Irish Volunteers in the 1916 Easter Rising, an attempt to end British control of Ireland. Evidence of the combat which took place can be seen today, with round bullet holes marking the large columns outside. Since the building was destroyed except for the front portico and facade, it was rebuilt and reopened in 1929, and today the building doubles as a museum of the Rising and also a fully functional Post Office.

Trinity College (and Temple Bar)

College Green, Dublin 2

historical sights in Dublin Trinity
A Charter from Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 incorporated Trinity College at the former site of All Hallows monastery

Heading south along O’Connell Street you will pass the magnificent O’Connell Monument, built to commemorate the “Liberator” Daniel O’Connell, who earned Irish Catholics the right to become Members of Parliament. Crossing over the mighty River Liffey via the O’Connell Bridge, you will find yourself in the southern part of the city. At this juncture you can choose to head south along D’Olier Street until you reach the magnificent Trinity College, where you can enjoy impressive historical architecture, a world famous library and other exhibitions, or you can head directly to Fleet Street first to enjoy drinks and an incredible atmosphere in the famous Temple Bar, which dates back to 1840. Whichever order you choose to visit these historical sights in Dublin, be sure to visit both to complete the Dublin experience.

St Stephen’s Green

Saint Peter’s, Dublin 2

st stephens green
St Stephen’s Green contains trees, fields, gardens and a beautiful lake

Heading south from Trinity College along Kildare Street will take you directly to St Stephen’s Green. Originally enclosed as parkland in 1664, the expansive green space remains a beautiful city park surrounded by sought-after Georgian houses. With multiple events taking place in the park, including live music, markets, fairs and delicious food stalls, a visit is well worth the extra walk. Not only that, but just over the road you can visit the charming Little Museum of Dublin which boasts an eclectic range of Dublin artefacts. And for the shoppers out there, Dublin’s shopping mecca, Grafton Street, is only minutes away.

St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8

historical sights of Dublin cathedral
The majestic architecture of St Patrick’s Cathedral is awe-inspiring

Heading west from York Street, you will eventually arrive at what is perhaps the most spectacular of all historical sights in Dublin. St Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in 1191 and is a true link to Dublin’s past. The present building dates from 1220-1259, meaning that when exploring its grounds and interior you can truly sense the age and significance of the cathedral. Constructed on the site of an ancient well, which Saint Patrick is said to have used, the building replaced an earlier wooden church. Its vaulted arches, impressive masonry and fascinating history will make your trip to St Patrick’s Cathedral a highlight of your stay in the city.

Dublin Castle

Dame St, Dublin 2

Dublin Castle
With multiple buildings dating from different periods, Dublin Castle is an interesting collection of architectural styles

We next head North up Bride Street then take a right onto Ship Street Little to arrive at our next destination, Dublin Castle. This structure represents the enormous amount of change Dublin has undergone throughout its rich history. Until 1922 the castle was the seat of the British government’s administration in Ireland, whereas today it is a major Irish political complex. Although much of the modern castle dates to the 18th century, a castle has stood on the site since the days of the first Lord of Ireland. As well as its stunning and varied architecture, the castle also provides splendid gardens, referred to as Dubh Linn Gardens, for they stand on the site of the original body of water by that name. Containing four separate memorial gardens within, each featuring exquisite sculptures and plant arrangements, Dublin Castle and Gardens provide plenty to explore.

Christ Church Cathedral

Christchurch Pl, Wood Quay

Christ Church Cathedral Dublin
Christ Church Cathedral has an imposing facade that belies its intricate interior

Returning back along Ship Street Little, then turning right onto Werburgh Street and walking to the junction brings us to our final destination. Christ Church Cathedral stands on the site of the first Christ Church which dates back to 1020, when Dublin was home to a large Viking settlement and leadership. In the years since, the church has been converted to a priory and then a cathedral following the Reformation Act. After various changes, building collapses due to subsidence and other structural changes, the cathedral was extensively renovated and rebuilt from 1871 to 1878. With some ancient parts of the cathedral still remaining, and an incredible (and creepy) crypt area open to visitors, you would be forgiven for thinking your historical walking tours ends here. But adjacent to (and technically part of) the cathedral lies the incredible Dublina Viking Museum. This museum transports visitors back to ancient Dublin when Viking settlers invaded the land and changed the course of history. From interactive displays and real life artefacts, to fascinating exhibits to explore, the cathedral and museum combined experience without a doubt makes it one of the most, if not the most, impressive historical sights in Dublin.

If your historical hunger is taking hold having read out walking tour guide, consider our 5 best holiday apartments in Dublin and get arranging your trip to the city. If you’d like to know what excellent attractions for the family Dublin has to offer, read our countdown of family fun activities. Or if you’d like to explore another area of the Emerald Isle, peruse our collection of serviced apartments in Ireland.

Charles McIntyre

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