Evidence of settlers in Dublin can be traced backer 1,000 years ago to the time of the Vikings, who ruled over the area for more than 300 years until the English throne took over. It wasn’t until 1937 did the country gain its independence from England, naming Dublin its capital.
After all those years, Dublin has become a fascinating destination with so much history and sites to explore. From St Audoen’s Church, the oldest standing building that dates back to the Medieval Times, to modern structures such as the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin is a great place to see a blend of old and new. But to make sure you get the best of the city, we recommend these hidden gems be added to your list of must-dos.
Start your day off at Kaph, one of the best coffee places in Dublin. They are known for having amazing brewed coffee, in addition to seasonal beverages such as a non-dairy bacon-flavored latte. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is relaxing, and the sweets are delicious too. They have an upstairs that’s quieter, perfect to read or work as you enjoy your morning cup of joe. Kaph is open from 8.45am to 6pm Monday through Wednesday and 8.45 to 7pm Thursday through Saturday.
St. Audoen’s Church
It’s not often you get to see structures that have survived the Middle Ages, which is why St. Audoen’s Church, completed in 1212, is a must see for those who love history. It’s said that the steps are haunted by Darkey Kelly, the first female serial killer in Dublin. The Church is also home to the Lucky Stone, which dates back to the 9th century, and was known to bring luck to the water source it once stood by.
Part of St. Audoen’s Church continues to be used to this day as a parish church, making it the oldest operating parish church in the city. Entrance is free, so feel free to explore a bit of the past near the old city center.
Finding a good pub in Dublin isn’t hard—since there’s almost one on every street corner—but one of our favorites is McDaids. It’s very traditional and welcoming, thanks to the dark wood interior and stained glass decor. The pub’s history dates back several centuries to 1779, the year when it was first created. It’s been known to have various famous visitors, most of which are Irish writers including Liam O’Flaherty, Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh. It also appeared in the 2007 Hollywood film, Gone Baby Gone. So if you’re looking for a mid-day break from all the sightseeing, drop by McDaids for a beer or two!
Dublinia is a wonderful museum in Dublin featuring the city’s history from the Vikings to the Middle Ages. You can discover the Viking’s alphabet and listen to their poems, as well as learn about the horrors and diseases of the Middle Ages. You can also take a tour up St. Michael’s Tower, constructed in the 17th century, to get a view of the entire city. In just a few months, Dublinia will open another exhibit called History Hunters, which will offer even more exciting artifacts for travelers to see and mentally digest.
Kilmainham Gaol is one of the most famous prisons in Ireland that held men and women of all ages, even children. The prison opened in 1796 and continued to be used for several hundred years until 1924. Conditions were horrendous, overcrowding during famines was common, and death by hanging was how many lives ended. You can now visit Kilmainham Gaol via a guided tour only, booked in advance, where you’ll learn about the 1916 Revolution, the people imprisoned here, their lives and the overall history of the prison. It’s a must for anyone visiting Dublin—you will not be disappointed!
Dublin has a dark past, but there’s also so much interesting history to uncover buried throughout the entire city. From centuries-old churches and museums depicting the harsh times to countless pubs and traditional Irish cuisines, Dublin is one destination that should make it on your list of go-tos at least once in your life.
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