Where old meets new

STEEPED IN HIS­TORY, DUBLIN IS A MODERN MINI-METROPOLIS THAT PACKS A BIG EX­PE­RI­ENCE INTO A REL­A­TIVELY SMALL AMOUNT OF SPACE

Virtuozity - - Travel -

their friend­li­ness, chat­ti­ness and will­ing­ness to wel­come and share. Dublin­ers very much es­pouse these qual­i­ties, mean­ing that a sim­ple stop to ask some­one for di­rec­tions can eas­ily turn into a con­ver­sa­tional ad­ven­ture. In these sit­u­a­tions, it’s best to go with the flow, and sim­ply al­low the lo­cals to lead the way, of­fer­ing a chance to see the ‘real’ Dublin, rather than the tourist traps.

That said, the tourist traps can of­ten be more in­ter­est­ing than you might think, par­tic­u­larly if you’re an ar­chi­tec­ture or his­tory buff. Al­though some of Dublin’s finest Ge­or­gian ar­chi­tec­ture was de­mol­ished in the mid-20th cen­tury, a re­mark­able amount re­mains. They were a re­minder of the past Bri­tish im­pe­ri­al­ism and were pulled down with­out re­gard to their beauty and ar­chi­tec­tural sig­nif­i­cance. They were re­placed with mod­ernist or pas­tiche of­fice blocks, St. Stephen’s Green (Dublin 2) be­ing a prime ex­am­ple. Thank­fully, at­ti­tudes have changed, and Dublin­ers are now rightly proud of their im­pres­sive build­ings from all eras. This means that there are fan­tas­tic sites, old and new, around the city that the eyes can feast on.

Some of these build­ings will be busier than oth­ers, and in the peak sum­mer sea­son, the top at­trac­tions are known for be­ing packed with crowds. The Christ Church Cathe­dral, the old­est building in Dublin (dat­ing back to the eleventh cen­tury), is a good ex­am­ple of this. It un­der­went a mas­sive restora­tion in the 19th cen­tury, and has since be­come one of the city’s top tourist at­trac­tions. The crypt, which ac­tu­ally pre-dates the cathe­dral, is a par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar spot, mean­ing it’s best to get there early to beat the crowds.

Other build­ings of note in­clude St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral, the largest church in Ireland, and built in 1191; Dublin Cas­tle, the for­mer seat of the Bri­tish rule in Ireland; and the Gen­eral Post Of­fice, one of the coun­try’s most iconic build­ings, de­signed by Fran­cis John­ston in a neo-clas­si­cal style.

Dublin is also fa­mous for its art galleries and mu­se­ums. In terms of art, worth a visit are the Ir­ish Mu­seum of Modern Art, the Projects Art Cen­tre, the Na­tional Gallery of Ireland, and the Ir­ish Ge­or­gian So­ci­ety. Mean­while, the Green on Red Gallery is one of Dublin’s most dy­namic and ex­cit­ing art galleries, fea­tur­ing the best of the coun­try’s con­tem­po­rary artists. There are also many wor­thy mu­se­ums that of­fer a deep dive into Ireland’s, of­ten trou­bled his­tory. For a frank but sen­si­tive take on the his­tory of Dublin, head to the Lit­tle Mu­seum of Dublin. Mean­while, the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ireland fea­tures three sec­tions—ar­chae­ol­ogy, Dec­o­ra­tive Arts and His­tory, and Nat­u­ral His­tory.

For eat­ing, Dublin has a wide range of high-qual­ity restau­rants. Many have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing over­priced by Euro­pean stan­dards, but tougher eco­nomic times have given rise to a new wave of stylish but ca­sual, low-priced eater­ies of­fer­ing great food. There sev­eral fan­tas­tic In­dian restau­rants around the South Wil­liam Street area, par­al­lel to Grafton Street. The Khy­ber Tan­doori on South Wil­liam Street and Shal­i­mar on South Great Ge­orges Street are highly rec­om­mended. A sim­i­lar multi-cul­tural hotspot is Par­nell Street in Dublin 1, which has a dense con­cen­tra­tion of Chi­nese and Asian restau­rants ex­ten­sively fre­quented by ex­pat com­mu­ni­ties. And don’t for­get to try Leo Bur­dock Fish and Chips, a small in­door eatery that has been fre­quented by a num­ber of fa­mous peo­ple whose names are listed on the wall.

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