St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral is named for St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who brought Christianity to the island in the fifth century. His holiday on March 17, the date of his death, is a celebration of all things Irish. The site of the church is supposedly where a well that St. Patrick used to baptize converts was once located.
The current iteration of the cathedral was constructed between 1200 and 1270. The 43m spire, the tallest in Ireland, was added between 1362 and 1370. The cathedral is an exquisite example of Gothic architecture. By the nineteenth, neglect and its flood-prone location had taken their toll and the cathedral had fallen into disrepair. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, a massive restoration was spearheaded by the famed Guinness family. The name is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the cathedral is not actually the seat of a bishop. Jonathan Swift, one of Ireland's great writers, served as dean of the St. Patrick's Cathedral between 1713 and 1745.
St. Patrick's Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland. Highlights include an excellent collection of stained-glass windows. Several important Irishmen are buried here, including Jonathan Swift. The "Door of Reconciliation" is a door with a hole in it. There's an interesting story behind it, involving two feuding noblemen, one of whom blindly put his arm through the hole to declare a truce. Beautiful gardens cover the grounds.
Keep in mind that the cathedral is often closed for funerals and weddings, so call ahead if you want to make sure it's open to visitors. St. Patrick's doesn't compare to some of the great cathedrals on the Continent, but it is still the largest in Ireland and there is a lot of history here. If you're on a budget you can skip this, but otherwise it is well worth a visit.
Location: Patrick Street, Dublin West
Telephone: +353 01 453 9472
Hours: Vary throughout the year.