With its myriad of cultural offerings, historical monuments and famed entertainment scene, Dublin is truly one of Europe's finest cities, brimming with things to see and do. Dublin originally grew around the ford over the River Liffey. After being raided by the Vikings, the city changed hands in the Norman Invasion of 1169. This period saw the construction of the cultural behemoths of Dublin Castle and St Patrick's Cathedral, and ushered in almost 800 years of English rule. By the early 18th century the city was in a poor state of repair, and the Protestant Ascendancy set about creating a modern, Anglo-Irish metropolis.
The result was largely successful; for a time Dublin was the second-largest city in the British Empire, and the grand townhouses set around charming landscaped squares and spread of attractive cobbled streets can still be found today. From the Act of Union in 1801 until about the 1960s Dublin faced its most difficult period, with civil unrest and stages of poverty. Yet it has come through these turbulent times to become a magnificent attraction, a vibrant, modern capital, and now a truly world-class city.