The rotunda is sometimes booked out for weddings on Saturdays – if you are unlucky enough to arrive on such an occasion then be prepared to have your access limited.
A Den of Vice
This site next to Dublin Castle at the top of Parliament Street was not always occupied by so prestigious and grand a building as the City Hall. In the mid-1700s a tavern called The Eagle became the sordid hangout of the Earl of Rosse’s infamous Hellfire Club, whose drunken, debaucherous and occasionally diabolical revelries became the stuff of Dublin legend. These days, the sex and satanism have been toned down but the location is no less widely renowned.
A Celebrated Restoration
Designed by Thomas Cooley and completed in 1779, Dublin City Hall marked the introduction to Ireland of the European neoclassical architectural style, and remains an exquisite example of it. When it was converted into a government building in the mid-1800s, the team tasked with overseeing the alterations to the building created a number of unsightly additions to the structure which ruined its overall aesthetic effect. Thankfully, an award-winning restoration program in the early 21st century has returned City Hall to its former Georgian splendour.
After paying a €4 entry fee, you are admitted into the rotunda, a spectacular entrance hall crowned by a large dome, which is supported by 12 marble columns. You can wander between the columns, over the gorgeous floor mosaics and around the ambulatory surrounding the rotunda, and your footsteps will follow those of the merchants who once discussed business in this place over 200 years ago.
In the vaults downstairs there is a multimedia exhibition detailing the history of Dublin from the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1170 to the present day. For an entry of only €2, it is well worth a visit.
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