The cultural heart of Ireland: Galway

The cultural heart of Ireland: Galway

by Julia Cahill
Stripes Europe

Much more than a far-off place long referenced in a popular Steve Earle song, history meets modernity in the unparalleled city of Galway. Nestled in picturesque western Ireland, the coastal destination is steeped in a unique culture that can't be found anywhere else. A culture distinct enough, in fact, that Galway was the official European Capital for Culture 2020. The popular city is home to the National University of Ireland, ranked in the top 2% of Universities worldwide, and a history that stretches back to the early 11th century.

Originally a fishing village, the invasion of the Spanish and the establishment of 14 tribes created what we now know as the city of Galway. A majority of the landmarks from the beginning of its history are still standing and interwoven with the modernized bustling city. Known as the cultural heart of Ireland, the world-famous Claddagh ring originated here. Iconically Irish, the Claddagh is a symbol of love, loyalty and friendship everlasting that draws couples to the city from around the globe. Galway also has the largest still functional medieval church in Ireland, multiple UNESCO designated heritage sites, numerous museums, a beautiful seaside Spanish walk, Latin quarters that offer tourist-friendly shopping and beautiful medieval architecture that seems untouched by time.

The city of Galway is extremely easy to traverse on foot as well, with everything within walking distance. The world-famous Cliffs of Moher are a driveable day trip - not to be missed if you have the opportunity. Galway is also full of fun culinary adventures. Fresh seafood, beer and Irish classics are done in the smorgasbord of popular restaurants dotted throughout the city as they have been for thousands of years. Free English language tours of the city with a comprehensive retracing of its illustrious history are offered every day by university students. Tips are always appreciated. Pub crawls are offered every night by the same group, also merely for tips.The beating heart of the Emerald Isle is a must-see destination for all.

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