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City Hall

Dublin's oldest example of neo-classical architecture, City Hall overlooks Dame Street, next to Dublin Castle. The seat of Dublin's City Council since the 1850s, this impressive Georgian building stands at the southwest corner of Dublin's Temple Bar district. 

What to See

  • A Corinthian portico graces the front of the building
  • The building’s gorgeously illuminated domed rotunda
  • Twelve tall columns encircle rotunda
  • The entrance hall displays statues of local notables
  • A 20 ft high sculpture depicts Daniel O'Connell "The Liberator" of Irish Catholics, who died in 1847
  • An intricate mosaic floor displays twelve frescoes depicting Dublin legends and ancient historical scenes
  • The city archives, including royal charters, can be found in the Muniment Room

Dublin Coat of Arms

The city's coat of arms is on the mosaic floor. This heraldic crest was first used by the city council in 1607, and is derived from a seal that first appeared in the 13th century. The crest depicts three burning towers of Dublin castle, representing a city ready for siege. The towers are flanked by the figures of Justice, holing a sword, and Law, holding a scales. At their feet are flowers, representing hope and joy. Beneath the crest is the city's motto: Obedientia Civium Urbis Felicitas. Translated from Latin, this approximately means: Obedient citizens make a happy city.

Did You Know?

The Muniment Room, which contains the city archives and royal charters, is referred to by James Joyce in his novel Finnegan's Wake. The earliest Royal Charter found in the Muniment Room dates to 1172. It grants the territory of Dublin to the city of Bristol, England!


Designed by London architect Thomas Cooley, its construction began in 1769 and was completed in 1779. Originally built as the Royal Exchange, its purpose was to provide a meeting place for traders and merchants to buy and sell their goods and trade bills of exchange. Its location was convenient to nearby lodgings for merchants who had traveled long distances. As the years went on, the building acquired other uses, such as a prison for rebels, a military depot, and a corn exchange. On 30 September 1852, the Royal Exchange was renamed City Hall. In the early 2000s, City Hall was restored to its original 18th century appearance.


  • Entrance to the main (upstairs) part of the building is FREE
  • Entrance to the exhibition, which can be found in the vaults below, is now also FREE


The audio-visual exhibition, located downstairs, depicts the history of Dublin through the ages. Entitled "The Story of the Capital" and narrated by the actor Sinead Cusack. From 21st January 2016, a temporary exhibition by the Dublin Fire Brigade will be on display, as part of the 1916 Commemoration Celebrations.

Visitor Tips

Most visitors say that the upper part of this building, which is free,  is well worth a visit. It has a pretty interior, doesn't require too much time and is close to many other attractions. The exhibition, which is now FREE, gets a mixture of reviews. Some visitors find the exhibition educational and have liked the touch-screen presentation, as well as the in-depth coverage of the history of Dublin. Others note that the exhibition is a little long-winded, and suited to people who already have some familiarity with Irish history, and may a little too in-depth for visitors seeking a high-level overview.


  • City Hall - interior. Image by Barnyz
  • Dublin's heraldic crest on mosaic floor, City Hall. Image by Grazia Frizzetta.


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