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Trinity College is probably the best spot to kick off your Dublin tour. It's at the heart of the capital, packed full of incredible history, and it's the oldest university in Ireland having been founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Occupying an enviable 40-acre site, Trinity retains some of its ancient seclusion of cobbled squares, gardens, and parks and is famed throughout the world for its collection of great treasures. These include, on permanent exhibition, the 9th century illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, the Books of Durrow and Armagh, and an ancient Irish harp. The priceless artefacts are displayed in the Treasury and the awe-inspiring 18th-century Long Room, which houses more than 200,000 of Trinity's oldest books and hosts regular literary exhibitions.
 
After eating your fill at Bewley's Oriental Café, an easy stroll to the top of Grafton Street brings you to Fusilier's Arch, the main entrance to St. Stephen's Green. Georgian buildings surround 'the Green' (as it's known locally), although some sadly fell by the wayside during redevelopment, mainly in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The 22-acre park is a Dublin gem and an oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of downtown city life. When weather permits, you should do as the locals do and stretch out on the grass for some rest and relaxation, or grab a picnic lunch. Immaculate flowerbeds fringe the lawns. Also in the park is an ornate fountain at its center, a bridge over a duck pond, and a children's playground. Incidentally, the park was the scene of bitter combat during the 1916 Uprising, however it was agreed by both sides that hostilities should cease while the park-keeper fed the ducks.
 
Exit the National Gallery's main portal and you're on Merrion Square. Made up of stately private houses and offices, this is arguably Dublin's grandest Georgian square and stars in countless images and postcards of the city. At its center is a pretty park with a vibrant statue of that most colorful writer and renowned Dublin wit, Oscar Wilde. An amiable stroll around the square is a journey back in time to the Georgian era. You may notice that the top windows in many buildings are smaller than those lower down. This was done in order to create an optical illusion, that of the houses being taller than they really are. At weekends, local artists line the perimeter of the park and display their paintings on the railings.

 
O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare, is home to the iconic GPO (General Post Office) built in 1814. The failed 1916 Uprising began here and bullet holes still dot the neo-classical portico. Inside, the An Post Museum houses the Letters, Lives & Liberty exhibition featuring a 1916 Uprising installation and a copy of the Proclamation of Independence.

 
Around an eight-minute walk from the GPO, in a beautiful Georgian house is the James Joyce Centre founded by Irish Senator, one-time Presidential Candidate, and renowned Joycean scholar, David Norris. The museum is dedicated to all things Joycean, and although the writer never lived in the property, he had a connection to it through a real-life character featured in Ulysses, Prof. Denis J. Maginni, who ran a dance academy here. The building was condemned in the 1980s, but was ultimately saved and restored through a campaign spearheaded by David Norris.
 
An 18-minute walk from Collins Barracks is Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park. This is the largest enclosed urban park in Europe, some 1,750 acres, which is surprising given that Dublin is a relatively small capital city. Hundreds of deer roam the parkland, the President of Ireland's official residence (Áras an Uachtaráin) is here along with Deerfield, a beautiful 18th-century property home to the American Ambassador to Ireland. There's a Visitors Centre located close to a 17th-century tower house, Ashtown Castle, for those wishing to find out more about the park and its environs. At the far Castleknock Gate end and on some 78 acres stands stately Farmleigh House dating from the 1800s and purchased by the Irish state from the Guinness family in 1999.
 
The forbidding gaol (jail), dating from 1789, truly is a notorious site in the history of Irish nationalism. It was here that the leaders of the 1916 rebels were first incarcerated and then executed for what was seen as an act of high treason. The exhibition in a modern hall gives a taste of what conditions were like and outlines the struggle for Irish independence. There are excellent guided tours throughout the rest of the jail, which cover Irish history from 1796-1924. The Stonebreaker's Yard is sure to send shivers up the spine, as this is the spot where the leaders of the uprising met their grisly fate.
 
Restored in the 19th century and dominating the surrounding area, Christ Church Cathedral is built on the site of Dublin's first church, which was founded in 1028 and made of timber. The Great Nave has magnificent early gothic arches, and here you can see the 14th-century replica of the tomb of legendary Norman conqueror Strongbow, who is buried elsewhere in the cathedral. The fragment that lies alongside is said to be part of the original tomb and has the nickname, 'Strongbow's son.' Parts of the vast crypt, which runs the length of the building, date from the 13th century.
 
An easy 7 minute-walk from Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Tradition has it that here, St. Patrick baptized converts to Christianity in AD 450. Like Christchurch, the original edifice was timber. In 1192, another church was founded and constructed of stone. Just over a century later, another reconstruction took place and its status was raised to that of cathedral. Over the centuries, much embellishment has occurred, chiefly in the mid 1700s when the steeple was built, and during the late 1800s when there were substantial renovations. Gulliver's Travels author and satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), who was Dean of St. Patrick's for 35 years, is interred in a tomb to the right of the entrance beside his long time love 'Stella' (Hester Johnson 1681-1728).
 
Dublin Castle was the site of central administration during 700 years of British rule until 1922. The castle has seen many guises: medieval fortress, vice-regal court, and function of government. In 1534, Irish rebel Silken Thomas (so named for his fine clothes) launched an attack and besieged the castle. Currently, the castle is mainly used for ceremonial occasions, exhibitions, and even concerts. The ornate state apartments are open to visitors and there are a number of museums to explore including the Chester Beatty Library and Gallery.