Lonely Planet Writer

Dublin’s Trinity College is opening its walls to welcome more visitors

The prestigious grounds of Trinity College have long been an essential stop on most people’s itineraries in their Dublin city break. Located right in the centre of the city, the 400-year-old college has unveiled major plans to modernise the campus, welcome more visitors and become more integrated with the surrounding area.

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The college is in the heart of the city. Photo by Olivier Cirendini/Lonely Planet

The beautiful campus is mainly surrounded by walls and the pedestrian gates that do exist are often crowded. At the heart of the new plans are an increased amount of pedestrian gateways, a new ‘public square’ and a public cafe set inside a Georgian house. There are also plans for new buildings that will expand into the surrounding city, including student accommodation and buildings dedicated to business and potentially law and technology in the future.

The university’s bursar, Professor Veronica Campbell, told the Irish Times that the college campus has an enduring appeal among visitors and locals. “We have a campus with architecture of such monumental scale compared to the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge,"she told the paper. “We want our university to be a place that people walk around. It’s a balancing act we need to strike, due to security, litter and so on.”

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The Old Library is a huge draw for visitors. Photo by clu/Getty Images

An estimated two million people visit the campus every year, as it’s home to some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. More than one million people visited the Book of Kells in 2018, which is housed on campus. A ticket also gives tourists access to the Old Library, a favourite of Instagram users and long thought to be the inspiration behind the Great Jedi Library in Star Wars.

Many others visitors and locals simply enjoy wandering the grounds; there are regular tours of the campus’ most famous buildings with plenty of stories of famous alumni like Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Ruth Negga and Niall Horan. The cricket grounds and its adjacent student bar are also popular hotspots, particularly on sunny evenings.