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Top Sights and Attractions of Dublin

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Even if you have just one day in Dublin, make sure not to miss any of the Top Ten Sights! Most are within easy reach of the city centre or will be part of a bus tour. Which ever way of transport you decide upon - you are certain to find further attractions on the way!

And don't forget to share your favourite Dublin attraction(s) with other readers!

1. Trinity College and Library

Dublin - Trinity College Campanile
© 2007 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I on the grounds of an Augustinian priory that was a victim of the dissolution. Trinity College even today dominates the city landscape and the oldest buildings (the brick-built "Rubrics") date from 1700. Most of the impressive buildings were built during the renovation phase of 1759. Trinity College Library is home to more than an million books and priceless manuscripts, the most famous being the "Book of Kells" - long queues may form in summer.

2. O'Connell Street and the General Post Office

Dublin - General Post Office
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O'Connell Street is Dublin's main traffic artery and the widest urban street in Europe - which you will not believe at busy times. The center is dominated by statues and monuments, the houses on the left and right are mainly large and impressive. Pride of place goes to the General Post Office (GPO), scene of the 1916 rebellion and faithfully rebuilt after being shelled by artillery and a warship. A bronze statue of Cuchullain remembers the fallen heroes.

3. National Museums of Ireland

Natural History Museum ("The Dead Zoo", Merrion Street, Dublin)
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Two museums should be high on the list of priorities for any visitor. The National Museum of Archaeology and History in Kildare Street (Dublin 2) is dedicated to prehistoric and medieval Ireland. Do not miss the excellent new exhibition "Kingship & Sacrifice". The National Museum of Decorative Arts and History in Collins Barracks (Benburb Street, Dublin 7) houses an eclectic collection including the uniform Michael Collins was shot in and an exhibition on the Easter Rising.

4. St Patrick's Cathedral

Dublin - St Patrick's Cathedral
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Ireland's largest church and the National Cathedral - this special status was conferred on a church were no bishop actually has his throne! Founded in 1191 by Archbishop Comyn, Saint Patrick's Cathedral was substantially renovated between 1844 and 1869 with moneys granted and raised by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness. Visitors will thus find a neo-gothic cathedral with some older parts. Here you will also see the graves of Dean Swift (of "Gulliver" fame) and his beloved Stella.

5. Temple Bar

Temple Bar, Dublin
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Originally earmarked for the wrecker's ball and redevelopment as a bus and rail terminal, the area south of the Liffey called Temple Bar was saved and reinvented as a "bohemian quarter". On good days you will meet street artists and enjoy international cuisine and bustling pubs. On bad days the area will be overrun by parties on "stag" or "hen nights". Temple Bar can be very much of a mixed bag and has been commercially developed to the max - the "bohemian" aspect being facade to a large degree.

6. National Gallery of Ireland

National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin, Merrion Square)
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Situated at Merrion Square West and right in the center of Dublin. Ireland's National Gallery is a "must see" for anyone interested in Irish and European art. Opened in 1864 it has around 500 major works of art on display - among them Hogarth, Gainsborough, Poussin, Monet, Degas, El Greco, Velasquez, Goya, Picasso, Titian, Caravaggio, Brueghel, Vermeer and Rubens. Especially strong on Irish artists and Irish portraits the National Gallery has recently been expanded by the "Millennium Wing".

7. Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle
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Not a forbidding fortress and definitely not a fairy-tale image - Dublin Castle is the "Irish Stew" of castles, everything thrown in in bits and pieces. The original Viking fortress was expanded, renovated, torn down and rebuilt over the centuries. Today a massive tower and the Royal Chapel look medieval while all administrative buildings are in more modern styles. The defensive character is gone but the beautiful gardens and impressive state rooms make more than up for it.

8. Phoenix Park

Deer in Phoenix Park
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The world's largest enclosed municipal park, Phoenix Park can keep you busy for days - from the magnificent residences of the Irish President and the Ambassador of the United States to the quaint cricket and polo fields, from Ashtown Castle to the Garda Headquarters and from the herds of deer roaming free to the animals in Dublin Zoo. Do not miss the Phoenix Statue and the Papal Cross nearby. Martial history is emphasized by the massive Wellington Monument and the much-raided Magazine Fort on Thomas Hill.

9. Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Jail or Gaol (Inchicore Road, Dublin 8) is one of Europe's most notorious prisons and has been preserved in working order. Eternally cold and bare cells bear mute witness to the harsh prison life faced by inmates. In Irish history Kilmainham Gaol comes only second to the GPO - here the leaders of the 1916 were executed. Today's tours tend to highlight this aspect more than anything else, making the prison more a republican shrine and not a piece of Irish general social history.

10. Guinness Storehouse

Dublin without Guinness is like Milwaukee without ... you get the the point (or pint)! Nowhere is Guinness more the center of attention as in the Guinness Storehouse. Based at historic St James's Gate (Dublin 8) this is part of the original brewery. The exhibitions include the brewing process, the Guinness transportation system and a pipeline much maligned by thirsty but thrifty Dubliners. Highlight of the tour is a "free" pint in the stunning Gravity Bar, high above Dublin's rooftops.

Dublin's Best Attractions - What is Your Opinion?

Dublin's best attractions - is there a definite list or a wide difference of opinion? Guide books and websites can recommend, but what are the popular favourites among the attractions of Dublin? What, in your personal opinion, should be the one sight no visitor of Dublin should leave without having seen it first? Share your favourite Dublin attraction(s) with other readers!

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