Dublin is Ireland's capital and main centre of education and culture. It is situated on the east coast facing the Irish Sea, at the head of a large crescent-shaped bay which is sheltered on its southern side by the Wicklow Mountains. The city occupies a generally flat site, which is bisected from west to east by the River Liffey.
Many of Dublin's historic edifices are in the old section of the city, south of the Liffey such as Dublin Castle (16th century), the Protestant cathedral of Christ Church (founded in 1038), the Gothic St Patrick's Cathedral (founded 1190). Among other striking public buildings of the city are Trinity College (founded in 1592); the Bank of Ireland building (completed in 1794, and the old seat of the Irish Parliament); the 18th-century Customs House; the Four Courts, seat of the high courts of Ireland; and Leinster House, the present seat of the national parliament. Phoenix Park is one of the world's great city parks and contains Dublin Zoo (the third-oldest public zoo in the world). Dublin is also renowned for its public houses, one of which, the 100 metre long Hole-In-The-Wall is reportedly the longest in Europe.
Prominent among Dublin's many museums and galleries are the National Museum of Ireland (which houses an important collection of Celtic antiquities); the Dublin Civic Museum; the Natural History Museum; Kilmainham Gaol (a historical museum); the Dublin Writers' Museum (celebrating the city's long tradition as a literary centre); the National Gallery; the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Dublin has often figured prominently in Irish history. Its inhabitants were converted to Christianity about AD 450 by Patrick, later the patron saint of Ireland. The town was captured in the 9th century by the Danes and won back by the Irish on a number of occasions during the next three centuries. In 1171 the Danes were expelled by the Anglo-Normans, led by Henry II, king of England. He held court in Dublin in 1172 and Dublin remained under British control. Irish insurrections in 1798, 1803, 1847 and 1867 failed. Dublin was the scene of some of the most severe fighting of the Easter Rising of 1916 and of the revolution of 1919 -1921, which resulted in the establishment of the Irish Free State, and the Irish Civil War that followed.
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