Armagh is full of architectural treasures as the city features buildings from several important time periods including Medieval, Georgian, Victorian and 20th Century. The building styles blend well together to form an architectural paradise for visitors to the area. In addition, city officials are planning a renovation of the city centre to help make it more accessible and pedestrian friendly. Until it is complete the city is still well worth a visit for its historical gems. Here are a few of such buildings every visitor should check out in Armagh.
The Armagh Observatory was constructed in the 18th century and was commissioned by Archbishop Robinson. The Georgian classical design is evident from the square floor plan down to the Tuscan style porch to the front entrance. It was notably designed by famous period architect Francis Johnston and is still very much in use today as an astronomical research centre.
There are numerous Georgian classical buildings in the city and many of these were constructed on the request of Archbishop Robinson. His own personal chapel, Green Temple, was built in 1781 is a fine example of the period.
The Armagh Gaol is a mix of Georgian and Victorian architecture since it includes an extension which was added to the building during the 1840s. It was used as a women’s prison up until its closure in 1986 and still stands today as a fine example of local architecture. Recently the Gaol has gone through some renovations and it regularly opens for tours.
Armagh Public Library
Located in the centre of the city, the public library was designed by Thomas Cooley and commissioned by Archbishop Robinson. Not only is it is one of the finest buildings in Armagh, it is also one of the oldest libraries in Ireland and has an amazing collection of books including a first edition of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s travels.
The Market Place Theatre
Amongst the history in the city there is a stunning piece of modern architecture in the form of The Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre. Designed by Glenn Howells Architects and completed in 2000 this modern building perfectly complements its more historical neighbours and brings a touch of contemporary class to the city. It has won several prestigious awards and is a credit to the city and its architect.
St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral
Armagh is known as the Cathedral City for the simple reason that it is home to both the head of the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church in Ireland. Although it was originally constructed in 445AD the Church of Ireland Cathedral has actually been destroyed and re-built a total of 17 times since then giving it a blend of medieval architecture with 17th and 18th century carvings.
St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Armagh is the seat of the Archbishop of Armagh who is also Primate of All Ireland making it an extremely significant ecclesiastical building in Ireland. It is a relatively young building compared to the Church of Ireland Cathedral as construction began in 1834 and was completed in 1904. Since then its two spires have dominated the Armagh skyline making it an instantly recognisable landmark.
Away from the city the prehistoric Clontygora court tomb stands near Slieve Gullion in South Armagh and was built by an early farming community, possibly as far back as 3500 BC. The fact that it still exists is remarkable and with the nearby Ballymacdermot Cairn both are well worth a visit.