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Known as Ireland's oldest city, Waterford is quickly becoming one of the finest ports to visit, with restoration and preservation of its ancient civic buildings a priority for the local councils. Along with historical ruins, towering medieval architecture and charming civic spaces, Waterford offers an urban locale that won't subject you to the hasty pace and crowds that are typical of picturesque cities. Cruisers will be delighted with the serenity and friendly atmosphere that this historic, intriguing township has to offer, complete with cosy bars and restaurants, specialist glassmakers and architectural marvels throughout its narrow streets. With a storied heritage of being one of the first settlements that Viking Raiders established as early as 853 A.D, this grand port's stirring history is obvious from the set you set foot in its harbour.
This spectacular tower is the oldest complete building in Ireland. Built in the 12th century, it existed for centuries as the centrepiece of the city's fortifications, and is an exceptional example of medieval craftsmanship. In later centuries, the tower has acted as an arsenal against Anglo-Norman invaders, a royal castle in which King John slept, and even established as mint by the Irish Parliament in 1463. The storied history of the tower is not unaccounted for, with a captivating exhibit in its stony interior holding relics of its varied roles throughout the ages. Medieval silver coins, tally sticks and a smashed 12 century piggy bank are just a few of the intriguing artifacts on display. On the very top floor of the tower are audio visual presentations about Towerford's defences and the battles from which it has emerged miraculously unscathed. For a fantastic further look at the architecture, make sure to visit the narrow winding streets of the Viking Triangle.
Waterford Crystal Glassworks
Waterford Crystal has become one of the world's most famous luxury brands. At its inviting visitor centre, just 2km away from the centre of the city, cruisers can take the chance to brose the excellent selection of glasswork in the onsite-shop, but for a brilliant look at the craftsmanship and effort that goes into such a ubiquitous brand, the guided tour around the factory is a must. The factory melts over 750 tonnes of crystal per year, creating over 40,000 fantastic crystal pieces per year, only using traditional methods. On a tour of the Mould room, Blowing department, and the site of the Sculpting and Engraving visitors can watch meticulous craftspeople at work turning what was once melted crystal into exceptional works of art. Master sculptors can pass weeks, even months using traditional copper wheels to create minutely detailed engravings on the surface of the glass.
As well as an obligatory trip to the glassworks shop, which features crystal pieces designed in-house, make sure to visit the galleries of Kite Design Studio, in which some of Waterford's finest artists, sculptors and craftspeople display their work in a combined studio and shop. Look out for pristine Ann McDonnell prints and rare pieces you won't find anywhere else.
47 The Bistro is a popular spot for foodies, so much so you should book ahead to ensure you get a table. Curvy modern décor meets some of the finest servings of local staples you'll find anywhere in Waterford. Make sure to sample the Irish stew, which although commonplace, is here served with a gourmet twist. For a more traditional meal, make a dinner date at the Wine Vault. Based in a gabled Elizabethan Town House, its bottom floor houses an excellent wine cellar, while upstairs you will find delicious specialities like mouth-watering rabbit sausages and West Cork Mussels.
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