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Dublin Architecture: Where To Soak Up The City’s Finest Structures

Dublin Architecture: Where To Soak Up The City’s Finest Structures

If you’re in search of the most impressive Dublin architecture, you’ve landed in the right place.

While Dublin’s known for being a city of tales, craic and characters, all of those stories are set against an iconic canvas.

There are loads of interesting and beautiful buildings in the Irish capital so keep your eyes peeled for them!

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from ancient Dublin buildings that have stood the test of time to stunning Dublin architecture hidden in plan sight.

Stunning Dublin architecture: Our favourite buildings in the capital

Christ Church Cathedral tour

Photos via Shutterstock

The first section of our Dublin architecture is packed with our favourite buildings in the city and across the wider County Dublin.

Below, you’ll find everywhere from Dublin Castle and the Casino in Marino to the often overlooked St. Audoen’s Church and more.

1. Dublin Castle

dublin castle tours

Photo by Mike Drosos (Shutterstock)

With the 800-year-old cylindrical Record Tower as its focal point, Dublin Castle is an interesting building to look at, as it doesn’t really appear like a traditional castle.

This is medieval Dublin at its finest and, although you can walk around the grounds yourself, it’s best explored on the guided tour (especially as you’ll get to see the underground tunnels!).

2. Casino Marino

marino casino

Photos via Shutterstock

As it’s located in the slightly far-flung suburbs of north Dublin, it’s unlikely you’ll have time to visit Casino Marino on your first visit to the city.

But if you do have the chance to see it, then you won’t be let down by its gorgeous neo-classical architecture. Built back in 1775, it’s situated in the gardens of Marino House and was designed by Scottish architect William Chambers. 

3. St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick's Cathedral dublin

Photo left: SAKhanPhotography. Photo right: Sean Pavone (Shutterstock)

Competing for local supremacy with nearby Christ Church Cathedral for over 800 years, St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the most recognisable structures in the city and is located in Dublin 8 just west of Stephen’s Green.

Added in 1749 by George Semple, the iconic spire also makes it one of Dublin’s tallest buildings. The structure is wonderfully impressive both inside and out. This is Dublin architecture at its best.

4. The GPO

gpo dublin

Photo by David Soanes (Shutterstock)

There are few buildings in Dublin as iconic as the General Post Office (GPO). Though O’Connell Street has morphed into modern shopping thoroughfare, the GPO still bears the scars of 1916 and the bullet holes are visible on its grand columns.

Completed in 1818, the 200-year-old structure is visually magnificent, both from the outside and from within.

5. The Custom House

 Custom House dublin

Photo by SAKhanPhotography (Shutterstock)

Instantly identifiable by its soaring limestone dome, The Custom House sits proudly along the Liffey and is visible to almost anyone who walks the old quays. It’s a vast building too, dating back to 1791.

Originally used for collecting custom duties, it later became a government building before being attacked by the IRA during the Irish War of Independence. 

6. St. Audoen’s Church

Audoen's Church

Photos via Shutterstock

If you want some serious Dublin history, then come and check out St. Audoen’s Church on High St. This place is home to Dublin architecture that’s all too often overlooked.

The oldest parish church in the city, St. Audoen’s is located right the heart of Medieval Dublin and dates back to around 1190 (head to nearby Dublinia for more on life in that time period).

7. Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral tour

Photos via Shutterstock

Just a short walk from St. Audoen’s is the second of Dublin’s great cathedrals. Dating back almost 1000 years, Christ Church Cathedral was actually founded under the Viking king Sitric Silkenbeard before being extensively renovated and rebuilt in the late 19th century, giving it the form it has today

8. Trinity College Dublin

trinity college dublin ireland

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Dublin’s famous university is also one of its most popular tourist attractions, thanks to the Book of Kells and the stunning Long Room Library.

But it’s also undoubtedly one of the city’s finest structures and the leafy grounds of Trinity College are some of the prettiest in Dublin, so it goes without saying that you should spend a bit of time just strolling around exploring them.

Old Dublin architecture hidden in plain sight

There’s plenty of Dublin architecture that often gets missed by locals and tourists alike, as it’s hidden in plain sight.

Below, you’ll find everything from the old city walls and one of the most beautiful coffee shops in Dublin to plenty of other stunning buildings.

1. The old city walls

dublin city walls

Photo via Google Maps

Dublin is an old medieval city, and like cities of its time, it would have been surrounded by walls to keep out invaders.

Those archaic defences have long since disappeared from visibility for the most part, but there is still some small evidence of Dublin’s old city walls. Head to Cornmarket and Lamb St for fragments of a past that looked very different to today!

2. Bewley’s Grafton Street

bewley's dublin

Photo left: Richard Croft (CC BY-SA 2.0). Right: Rodhullandemu (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A lovely spot to stop for tea or coffee, Bewley’s on Grafton Street has been a fixture in Dublin life for almost 100 years.

First opening way back in 1927, it’s well-known for its gorgeous decor and the famous Harry Clarke stained-glass windows in particular. 

3. The Church Bar & Restaurant

The Church Bar

Photos via The Church Bar on FB

Head to Jervis St for one of Dublin’s more unique architectural sights. While its name might not be the most original choice, this restored 17th-century church is a great spot for a coffee, beer or a bite to eat and it’s open late too. This is certainly the one church in Dublin that encourages you to break bread and wine more than the others!

4. 14 Henrietta Street

14 Henrietta Street

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

Not only is 14 Henrietta Street a unique museum that reflects how family life in Dublin changed over the course of 300 years, but Henrietta Street itself is also the earliest Georgian Street in Dublin.

So if it’s significant architecture you’ve come to see, then you could do a lot worse than admiring these grandiose houses on Dublin’s north side.

5. The Bank Bar

The Bank Bar

Photos via The Bank Bar on FB

A bar boasting stained glass ceilings, mosaic-tiled floors and palm trees? That’s the sort of welcome you’ll get when you enter The Bank!

This stunning place on College Green has been around since the 19th century and is definitely a fine spot for bringing someone on a special occasion.

If you’re looking for Dublin architecture that you can admire while you enjoy a bite-to-eat or a pint, carve out some time to visit this place.

6. Pearse Lyons Distillery

Pearse Lyons distillery dublin

Photos via Pearse Lyons on FB

It was always Pearse Lyons’ dream to open a distillery in Dublin and when he finally did it in 2017, he couldn’t have chosen a cooler spot!

Set inside the impressively restored St James’ Church on James St, the Pearse Lyons Distillery is instantly recognisable by the gleaming new glass spire. 

7. The Ha’penny bridge

Ha'penny bridge

Photo by Bernd Meissner (Shutterstock)

Certainly the most stylish way to enter Temple Bar, The Ha’penny Bridge is a famous old pedestrian bridge made of cast iron that’s officially called The Liffey Bridge.

Built in 1816 and helping Dubliners cross the Liffey for over 200 years, its Victorian curves and lights look particularly pretty at night. This stunning piece of Dublin architecture is used by thousands of people every day.

8. Merrion Square

merrion square doors

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the most pleasant corners of Georgian Dublin, Merrion Square was laid out in 1752 by the estate of Viscount FitzWilliam and was largely complete by the beginning of the 19th century.

Since then, it’s been a favourite location of the likes of Oscar Wilde and WB Yeats, so head to its location just south of Trinity College to find out why it was so popular with such luminaries.

Mordern Dublin buildings

The final section of our guide to impressive Dublin buildings takes a look at the more modern structures that call the city home.

Below, you’ll find everything from the brilliant Samuel Beckett Bridge and The Spire to the award-winning Marker Hotel.

1. Samuel Beckett bridge

Convention Centre Dublin

Photos via Shutterstock

Bridges come in all shapes and sizes these days and the Samuel Beckett Bridge is certainly one of Europe’s more outlandish ones.

Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge is a cable-stayed bridge that’s vaguely in the shape of a harp (a national symbol for Ireland from as early as the thirteenth century).

2. The Marker Hotel

outside the marker

Photos via Google Maps

Located in Dublin’s regenerating south docklands, The Marker is one of the finest 5-star hotels in Dublin, and it’s one of the most unique in appearance, too.

Its chunky chequerboard façade is something of a local landmark and it’s easy to see why. The design is striking in its simplicity and it’s definitely one of the city’s coolest places to stay when you come for a visit.

3. Grand Canal Square Theater

Grand Canal Square Theater

Photos via Google Maps

Next door to The Marker is a modern structure of equal curiosity. Designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, the Grand Canal Theatre was opened in 2010, and its glassy angular design immediately catches the eye.

It operates as a performing arts venue and hosted the likes of The Beach Boys and Robert Plant in recent years

4. Dublin Airport Terminal 2

Dublin Airport Terminal 2

Photo via Google Maps

Anyone who has had the misfortune to pass through the dour 1970s Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport will know what a breath of fresh air Terminal 2 has been!

Stylish, modern and providing tonnes of natural light, it’s been €600 million well spent and of benefit to every passenger passing through.

5. The Spire

the spire dublin

Photos via Shutterstock

Like it or loathe it, The Spire on O’Connell Street is one of the city’s most recognisable sights and dominates the skyline. Soaring to a height of 390ft, it’s designed in a metallic pin-like shape and was built on the spot of the former Nelson’s Pillar.

While the jury’s still out on The Spire, it has led to some amusing nicknames (some of which I won’t be allowed to share here!). This is modern Dublin architecture at its most unique.

6. Convention Centre Dublin

Convention Centre Dublin

Photos via Shutterstock

A perfect example of modern architecture, the stunning glass-fronted atrium of the Convention Centre Dublin really catches the eye.

Tilted at an angle, the atrium almost looks like an optical illusion at first. Head down to the Docklands to check it out (and the Samuel Beckett Bridge too).

What beautiful Dublin buildings have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some incredible architecture Dublin has to offer in the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

Where can you see impressive architecture in Dublin?

Many Dublin buildings boast stunning architecture. In particular, The GPO, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Casino Marino and Dublin Castle are worth visiting.

Which Dublin buildings are are most unique?

St. Audoen’s Church and Christ Church Cathedral are, in my opinion, two of the most unique.

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