Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral is a functioning Anglican Church and the sound of its 19 enormous bells often resonates over Dublin. With the belfry tower as your guiding point, walk here from Temple Bar and enter the cool stone building to step back into medieval and Victorian times.
Architecture and history lovers will appreciate the changes this church has been through in almost a thousand years. In the 11th century a Danish king built a wooden church on the site. Stone restructuring followed from 1172, starting out in Norman style. The tomb of conqueror “Strongbow” (Richard de Clare) in the south isle of the nave dates from this time (although his body is no longer in the tomb). Gothic styles were added to the mix, but the building’s medieval character was largely lost during a Victorian restoration, when buttresses and a choir screen were added and the tower was rebuilt. These features still remain today.
The cathedral was a major destination for medieval pilgrims drawn to see holy relics, such as the “Speaking Cross,” which is no longer at the cathedral. The 12th-century Chapel of St. Laurence O’Toole had an iron case containing the saint’s embalmed heart, however this was recently stolen. It survived the Reformation, as did the 13th-century floor tiles in this section. Descend into one of the big medieval crypts to see the mummified cat and rat, nicknamed Tom and Jerry. Across the covered Victorian Bridge of Sighs is the interactive Viking exhibition, Dublinia.
The cathedral is west of Temple Bar on St. Michael’s hill. The Christchurch Place station is the nearest bus stop, or get there by Dublin’s hop-on, hop-off bus tour. There is no on-site parking. There is an entrance fee for both the cathedral and the Dublinia exhibition. The cathedral’s café and gift shop offer drinks, food and souvenirs. Hear the Christ Church Cathedral Choir sing evensong, held several times during the week.