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Completed in 1779, the City Hall designed by Thomas Cooley housed the Royal Exchange. It is an elegant reminder of the wealth and opulence of Dublin in the city's 18th-century heyday. Today, City Hall is managed by the Dublin Corporation, which has restored the building beautifully. The great central atrium, complete with gold-leafed dome and mosaic floor, is one of the most impressive public spaces around. The history of Dublin is told in a vivid, computer-aided series of exhibitions.
Situated in the heart of the city center, the Chester Beatty Library is an art museum and library which houses the great collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). His collection is now housed in Dublin Castle in a restored 18th century building with a modern purpose-built block attached. The Library was named Irish Museum of the Year and was recently awarded the title European Museum of the Year, a coveted international accolade in the museum world. The Library's exhibitions open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. The rich collection from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe offers visitors a visual feast. Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur'an, the Bible, European medieval and renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights of the collection. Turkish and Persian miniatures and striking Buddhist paintings are also on display, as are Chinese dragon robes and Japanese woodblock prints. In its diversity, the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 BC to the present day. Admission is free.
Although founded in the 9th Century by the Vikings, little remains of Dublin's early history but its cobblestoned streets which showcase layer upon layer of history with Medieval era cathedrals and castles alongside the elegant Georgian facades from its heyday in the 18th Century as the British Empire's second city. Today, the capital city of Ireland boasts a cosmopolitan vibe, with restaurants catering to the diverse tastes of its increasingly multicultural populace. Dublin's pubs remain, however, the highlight of its nightlife and social scene, with the amiable natives mingling with tourists over pints of the legendary, local Guinness. For those with a taste for more genteel epicurean delights, Dublin also harbors Michelin starred restaurants. The city's penchant for revelry is balanced by its repute as a UNESCO City of Literature, associated with literary luminaries like Yeats, Joyce and Beckett. From architectural monuments like the Saint Patrick's Cathedral and historic sites like the Kilmainham Gaol to several fine museums, art galleries and theaters, Dublin envelops a wealth of culture and history into its relatively modest embrace. Child-friendly attractions like Dublin Zoo are quite popular as well, as are the city's designer boutiques and lovely parks.
Established in 1881, George's Street Arcade is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. This enclosed shopping arcade, in the heart of Dublin, is iconic for its Victorian architecture. It is home to over 50 boutiques and stores retailing an array of merchandise – from clothing, jewelry and accessories, to art, antiques and memorabilia. Explore the charming passageways for a special souvenir, and stop by at a cafe for an Irish treat.
The development of Temple Bar as a cultural quarter was the inspiration for the creation of this innovative city square. Surrounded on all sides by contemporary architecture, the square is used for outdoor films, concerts and art, check the local press for details of upcoming events. The market on Saturdays showcases the best of Irish home-made and organic food, and musicians will serenade you as you munch. It's a good idea to wander down here on a Saturday afternoon to see what's going on.
Located on the West End of Temple Bar, the old city area is an interesting mélange of cafes, leisure outlets, fashion stores and salons. Known for its fashion boutiques, the town displays outfits by the crème-de-la crème of the fashion industry. Contemporary designs on exhibit blend well with the locality. So if you're out shopping for upholstery or dressing yourself for an outing, visit the Old City Shopping District to find the best in clothing and shopping. Credit cards may vary from store to store.
Temple Bar is often used to symbolize the extraordinary changes which Dublin has undergone in recent years. In the 1980s, this district of the city was earmarked as the site for a vast bus station. Galleries and small shops colonized the cheap properties, however, the bus-depot plans were abandoned, and the area now boasts of a warren of bustling shops, cafes, galleries and restaurants. Some of the country's best cultural institutions have found a home in Temple Bar, including the Irish Film Centre and the Gallery of Photography. Two new civic spaces, Temple Bar Square and the striking Meeting House Square have been created and utilized by artist and traders. In short, this district is one of the city's most colorful and vibrant; make a point of seeing it for yourself.