Phoenix Park is a huge oasis in the heart of Dublin.  Built in 1662 as a deer park for royalty, it is currently the largest park in any European city.  The park spreads for 1,752 acres, and is home to many other attractions, spectacular in their own right.  The President’s house (Áras an Uachtaráin), which dates back to 1750, is located in the center of the park, and is across the road from the U.S. ambassador’s residence, the only foreign embassy to be located in the park.   It is not uncommon to find large groups of deer or other wildlife roaming happily.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo
The Dublin Zoo is in the park as well, with over 400 animals and educational and entertaining programs daily, it is one of the city’s most popular attractions.   The park is home to the tallest obliesk in Europe, built in 1861 for the Duke of Wellington.  There is also the Papal Cross, a gigantic structure stretching 116 feet, erected in 1979 to celebrate the visit of Pope John Paul II.  The Ashtown Demesne area of the park has the Phoenix Café, a visitors’ center, a playground, and a very impressive Victorian walled garden.

Farmleigh Food Market

Food market

On Sundays, Phoenix Park holds Farmleigh Food Market, which is a food and farmer’s market on the grounds of the Farmleigh Estate.  I spent Easter Sunday in the market enjoying local food from friendly vendors while a brass band played in the Victorian gardens for visitors to enjoy as they passed.  On this particular day, there was also a Falconry on the premise, displaying beautiful and exotic owls and teaching curious passersby about them (I even got to pet one!).  Though Farmleigh is not held every Sunday, the events that replace it can be equally as exciting and interesting.

If you’re studying abroad and not used to the allusiveness of the sun in your new home, it is likely you will find yourself soaking it up as much as possible wherever it emerges. Phoenix Park is a great place to spend your sunny day, reading, relaxing, playing ‘football’ or participating in some of the more structured events they have to offer.

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