Your guide will pick you up at your hotel for the start of your walking tour and take you on foot through the city’s ancient streets. You will learn how Waterford was founded by the Vikings 1100 years ago and became a thriving trade hub with international connections. In 1170 a Norman invasion saw the arrival of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke who is better known as ‘Strongbow’. He later married Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster, and sealed the city’s fate.
Along with regaling you with stories about the Norman leader and his new bride, you will visit the site where the two were wed in what is now Christ Church Cathedral. This is one of Ireland’s finest 18th-century ecclesiastical buildings, built in Georgian style and designed by John Roberts, Waterford’s foremost architect of the period. Inside, you’ll find fine stuccowork and elaborate stained glass as well as remnants of the former medieval cathedral on the site.
In the gardens of the Bishop’s Palace you will see two bronze throne statues of Strongbow and Aoife, just one of the attractions in the city’s ‘Viking Triangle’. Nearby, is 12th-century Reginald’s Tower, named in honor of a Viking named Røgnvaldr. It is the oldest civic building in Ireland and has been in continuous use for over 800 years. Once the city's key defensive feature, it has served as a royal mint, munitions store and a prison over the years. Today, it hosts an exhibition on Viking and early medieval history.
As part of the tour you’ll also get to visit the ruins of Blackfriar’s Abbey, a 13th-century friary where the sons of the merchant classes were educated. The tower and gateway are still intact and give an idea of the size and significance of the abbey in its heyday. Next door is the Catholic Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, designed by John Roberts in 1793. Its neo-classical design and ornate interior is enhanced by ten crystal chandeliers which were a gift from nearby Waterford Crystal.
At the end of your tour your guide will leave you in central Waterford and can make suggestions of further places to visit or give you tips on cafés or restaurants to visit for lunch.