Dublin’s Phoenix Park, the largest city park in the world

photo by RedCraig on Flickr

Thew city of Dublin is not the largest capital in Europe, nor the most modern, but it has something that many larger and more glamorous cities lack: it has heart. Dublin is infused with an inimitable charm and a flair for making even the most ordinary walk on the streets seem exciting. The quaint combination of historical places and modern buildings is essential to Dublin’s personality, but so are the green spaces where people can feel like being in the middle of nature for a short while. There are plenty of parks in beautiful Dublin, but none are quite as impressive as the Dublin’s Phoenix Park,  the largest city park in the world, or so it is thought. Whenever you need to escape the modest bustle of the Irish capital, this is the place where you can unwind and enjoy some sunlight and fresh air.

About the park

photo by informatique on Flickr

Phoenix Park is a 707 hectare park about 3 kilometers from the city center, established in 1662 by one of the most famous viceroys of Ireland, James Butler. The original purpose of the enclosure was to be a deer park, and even today the park is home to a herd of wild fallow deer. The park’s limits are enclosed by stone walls, which are periodically repaired, but maintain the same limits as hundreds of years ago. The park has grasslands, avenues and alleys, but one third of it is covered by a forest of mostly broadleaf trees, but there are some ornamental trees as well in special enclosures. In addition to the fallow deer, there are many other mammals living in the park. The Furry Glen area of the park is a protected conservation area because of this.

Attractions

photo by computerjoe on Flickr

Phoenix Park has many interesting features, both natural and artificial. One of the largest buildings in the park is the Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland, which is open for free tours every Sunday. Dublin Zoo, one of the most famous attractions in the capital, is also located within park limits. The zoo was founded in the 1830’s, making it the oldest zoo in Europe. The largest obelisk on the continent is also located in the park: the Wellington Monument, a 62 meter tall structure.

The oldest building in the park is Ashtown Castle, a medieval tower built in the 15th century. The castle was hidden within a newer structure, demolished in the seventies – this is how the tower was discovered. Ashtown Castle was renovated, and now it is park of the Phoenix Park Visitor Center. The People’s Gardens are one of the most important parts of the park, and they have been created in the 1840’s, showcasing various styles of Victorian horticulture. While you are in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, don’t forget to visit the Magazine Fort, a 18th century powder magazine, and Furry Glen, an area with pleasant walking paths centered around wildlife watching.

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