Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I to educate the Dublin protestant elite, Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest university. Visit the college on your vacation in Dublin, it is well worth it. The atmospheric campus located in Dublin’s city center is open to visitors, who walk in the footsteps of some of the college’s noted alumni—among them Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett—and see the famous medieval manuscript, the Book of Kells in the beautiful Old Library.
As one of the oldest universities in either Britain or Ireland, Trinity College is a symbol for the importance of Dublin as an economic and political powerhouse in Elizabethan times. Trinity opened its doors to Catholics in 1793 and first admitted women to its courses in 1904. The majority of buildings on the Trinity campus date from the 18th century, when a significant building program created the elegant yet understated look that is now synonymous with the Dublin University. Today, Trinity College is ranked in the top 100 world universities and among the top 50 European universities.
Located in the old library, the centerpiece of the campus attraction is the Book of Kells (right), which attracts over 500,000 visitors to Trinity College each year. Written by monks around the year 800 AD, the Book of Kells contains a splendidly illuminated version of the four Christian gospels in a Latin text, based on the Vulgate edition (completed by St. Jerome in 384 AD). The Vikings looted the book in 1007 for its jeweled cover, but ultimately left the manuscript behind.
The main library room, the Long Room, is one of Dublin’s most staggering sights. The 65-meters-long hall houses 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books. The Old Library at Trinity College is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 to 5 pm and Sundays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The entry for adults is €9.00, children under 12 years old go for free. Concessions for families, students, senior citizens are available.
Bring the whole family
Apart from other notable buildings and exhibitions, like the Douglas Hyde Gallery, the Oscar Wilde Centre and the Samuel Beckett Theatre, the newest visitor attraction is the Science Gallery. Located in the Naughton Institute on campus, the Science Gallery host’s exhibitions that feature hands-on visitor participation, and is great fun for kids and adults alike.
Trinity College offers walking tours of its historic campus during the summer months. Tours depart from a desk located in the Front Gate of the college and last approximately 30 minutes. The tour will give you an overview of the history of Trinity College, its architecture, its most famous graduates and includes an optional visit to the Old Library and the Book of Kells. The campus tour on its own costs €5.00 per person; together with a visit to the Old Library you pay €10.00. Tours depart every 40 minutes between 10:15 am and 3:40 pm from mid-May to September.
By Kristín Einarsdóttir
About the author: Kristín Einarsdóttir is a Trinity College alumni and owner of Ireland Iceland Travel, which offers event planning and tours around the Emerald Isle.
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