Charles Fort

Now a national monument with exhibition center, this 17th-century military stronghold has witnessed some of Ireland's most significant events.

Charles Fort is a historic landmark and the biggest visitor attraction in the village of Kinsale. Review 400 years of Irish history as you wander past bastions, ruined barracks and other remnants of this preserved defense structure. You don't have to be a military history enthusiast to enjoy this treasured Irish site; the views over the harbor and Kinsale town are magnificent.

This star-shaped fort was built during the 1670s and 80s and named in honor of King Charles II. Though parts of the fort were burned down in 1922, significant restoration has brought it back to life.

The Charles Fort vantage point is excellent for memorable vacation photos. Learn about important Irish history by visiting the exhibition center. Displays show how the site was originally another fort, a stronghold in the Siege of Kinsale in 1601. In 1690 Charles Fort played a key role in the Williamite War. Later, it served as a base for British troops, until it was seized and partially destroyed by anti-Treaty forces in 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

Guided tours of the fort are available regularly and last an hour. Join one to get an insight into the events that took place on the site and to hear the Southern Irish accent with its distinctive lyrical tones. Visit the on-site café for refreshments.

While wandering through the fort, make sure you get a picture of Robert Reading's 17th-century lighthouse. On the opposite side of the harbor on Castlepark peninsula is James's Fort, a smaller fortress that slightly predates Charles Fort.

In the nearby town of Kinsale, visit gourmet seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, art galleries or the idyllic yacht-filled harbor.

Charles Fort perches on the cliffs over Kinsale Harbor in County Cork, and is open daily. There's a small entrance fee. The fort is located 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) from the town of Kinsale, a scenic walk that is quite enjoyable if the weather is right.

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