Its hilltop location and eye-catching flying buttresses make this the most photogenic of Dublin's three cathedrals, as well as one of the capital's most recognisable symbols.
The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (or Christ Church as it's known) was built in 1030 by the king of Dublin Vikings, Sitriuc "Silkbeard", with the help of a young Irish priest, Dúnán. Originally it was a wooden church on the outskirts of Dublin's viking settlement. In 1172 it was rebuilt as a stone structure, mostly under the impetus of Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (better known as Strongbow), the Anglo-Norman noble who invaded Ireland in 1170 and whose monument has pride of place inside. The new cathedral opened its doors late in the 12th century.
Once the original wooden church was replaced by the building you see today, the cathedral vied for supremacy with nearby St Patrick's Cathedral. However, like its sister church, it fell on hard times in the 18th and 19th centuries—the nave had been used as a market and the crypt housed taverns—and was virtually derelict by the time restoration took place.
The crypt dates back to the original Viking church and contains a trove of history. Curiosities include a glass display case housing a mummified cat in the act of chasing a mummified rat (aka Tom and Jerry), frozen mid-pursuit inside an organ pipe in the 1860s. Also on display are the stocks from the old 'liberty' of Christ Church, used when church authorities meted out civil punishments to wrongdoers. The Treasury exhibit includes rare coins, the Stuart coat of arms and gold given to the church by William of Orange after the Battle of the Boyne.
Christ Church for children
Every parent who has tried to cajole children into visiting a historical site knows that sometimes it's hard to keep them engaged. Christ Church helps kids discover and explore the cathedral's many treasures by inviting them to take part in a mystery treasure hunt around the cathedral. A leaflet is available at the welcome desk and uses church landmarks as reference points with clues, facts and spaces to fill in answers.
Tours, tickets and gift shop
Christ Church offers self-guided tours that include admission to the crypt and exhibitions. Combination tickets with Dublinia are available at the welcome desk. Christ Church souvenirs and Irish gifts are available in the Foxy Friar Gift Shop. All proceeds from ticket sales and shop support the work of the cathedral.
Don't miss the annual Christmas Carols by Candlelight showcases. Tickets typically sell out quickly so book in advance on the website.
How to get there
All city-centre buses will get you to within walking distance of the cathedral.
Christ Church is located in the heart of Medieval Dublin. The Queen of Tarts, with two locations around the corner from each other, does lovely cakes and coffee. And you can take your pick from Temple Bar's collection of pubs.