Christ Church Cathedral is one of the most important and recognized churches of Ireland. Located in what is denominated as the “medieval Dublin area”, Christ Church is promising for tourists who want to admire the Victorian architecture and a breathtaking facade. With or without a tour, your time spent inside Christ Church will surely be dynamic and pretty interesting. There are many curiosities that will catch your attention, such as the decoration of the pulpit, the stained glass windows of the sacristy and Strongbow’s tomb. If you’re not impressed yet, I invite you to walk down to the crypt, where you’ll see The Treasury, the mummified animals “the cat and the rat”, “The Tudors” TV series clothing, several fascinating memorials, the gift shop, and the Cathedral Café.
You don’t need to book a tour to enjoy the cathedral itself; however, you might be interested in going to the belfry where you’ll be shown how the bells are rung by a campanologist. A place like this can’t go unnoticed easily. What are you waiting for? Be one of the 200,000 tourists that visit the Christ Church Cathedral each year!
Getting into Christ Church
First things first. In the United Kingdom and in Ireland, the entrance to many churches is not free, as it might be in many other countries. However, this is compensated with the free entrance to public museums! For Christ Church, you can acquire your ticket at the entrance for 6 EUR (approximately 6.7 USD), but if you want to visit the Dublinia museum, which unfortunately is not public, you can acquire both tickets for 13.25 EUR (approximately 14.9 USD) and save 1.25 EUR (approximately 1.4 USD). Christ Church is open everyday of the year except the 26th of December. The opening times may vary according to the month but in winter it opens from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Saturday, and on Sunday it is open from 12:30 to 2:30.
A tip I can give to enjoy Christ Church fully while you save some money is to attend to the weekly services in the morning. People from all faiths or no faith at all are completely welcome to join the services. Other events worth seeing are the Choral Evensong and the Choral Eucharist, which are sung by the Cathedral Choir. For sure, this is the best way to kill two birds with one stone, as you will be allowed to enjoy the rest of the cathedral for free (you can find service times on their website below).
Booking tours and tourist information
Once inside, you can find pamphlets with basic information about the church and its history. They are written in at least ten languages, so I’m sure you’ll find yours! But if you are the type of traveler that prefers to be introduced to a thousand years of history, then you should book a tour with a professional guide. For just 4 EUR (approximately 4.5 USD) per visitor, the tour will give you access to the Belfry, which is the upper part of the cathedral where you’ll be able to make the bells ring! Audio guides are available too for 5 EUR (approximately 5.3 USD). At the entrance, you may find a tourist information spot where someone will always be willing to help you. You might like to know that Irish people are extremely kind, especially to tourists.
A cathedral full of history and restorations
One of the most eye-catching decorations is the pulpit. It is hard to believe that this structure was once seriously deteriorated; it was even under threat to be demolished. It was originally made of wood as it used to be a Viking Church; however, it was rebuilt almost entirely during the 18th century. Huge investments were made to save this church, which nowadays looks incredibly restored. Although it is mostly Victorian pastiche, there are some parts which are genuinely medieval. It started as a Catholic church which later turned into an Anglican church.
The history of Christ Church is full of restorations, faith changes, and above all, history changes. In the nave you will find Strongbow’s tomb. This man marked the beginning of the Anglo-Norman involvement in the country after he conquered Dublin during the 10th century. The Cathedral’s interior will take your breath away, mostly after you take a look at the Romanesque ceiling and the stained glass window decoration of the sacristy. There are so many details that just can’t be unnoticed.
Definitively, the crypt is what makes Christ Church special as it is one of the biggest in the United Kingdom and Ireland. You’ll feel how it gets a bit cooler as you make your way down. One of the first attractions is the original clothing from “The Tudors” TV series, which has used the nave for wedding and baptizing scenes, and the crypt was used for burial scenes and to imitate the inferior part of The Tower of London. You will also find several statues, tabernacles, and antique books that were used in the cathedral.
Meet "Tom and Jerry"!
Your tour at Christ Church will be full of history and architecture, but how about a bit of dark humor? In the crypt you’ll meet Tom and Jerry, as people like to call them. They are formally known as “The Cat & The Rat”. A very long time ago a mouse got into the tube of an organ, a cat who was chasing him got into the tube, blocking it and getting them both stuck. Neither got out and they were found mummified in 1860. Nowadays they are one of the most famous attractions of Christ Church. They were even mentioned in a passage of the famous Irish writer James Joyce:
“… as stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of that Christchurch organ”.
Enjoy time-travel with a visit to Christ Church
Ireland’s city center seems to be stuck in time in the medieval era, and Christ Church Cathedral clearly contributes to that. Booking a visit will be one of the best decisions you’ll make if you visit Dublin, as you’ll be covering history, architecture, dark humor, and religion in the same visit. Oh! And I almost forgot, you’ll get a discount for Dublinia museum! Hurry up and book!