In 2020, a number of Waterford Treasures attractions, including three museums located in the Viking Triangle section of Waterford City, received the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award.
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Today, the city's museums are perhaps the best example of the Viking presence and history in Ireland.
Waterford Treasures received the award for its Medieval Museum, the Bishop’s Palace, and Reginald’s Tower, in addition to its 3D virtual attraction known as “King of the Vikings.”
The annual awards highlight tourists’ favorite hotels, restaurants, airlines, and attractions across the world.
The winners are calculated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, opinions, and ratings that visitors give them on the TripAdvisor platform that contains over 8.7 million travel-related businesses.
Here is a look at the various attractions in Ireland’s leading Viking city that are part of the Waterford Treasures brand.
The museum situated in the heart of the city’s Viking Triangle includes galleries that feature some of the greatest treasures of medieval Ireland and indeed Europe.
Some of those treasuries include the 4-meter-long (13-foot) Great Charter Roll of Waterford, created in 1373, as well as beautifully made cloth-of-gold vestments from the 15th century.
Other exhibits include the Great Parchment Book of Waterford, an original document that records what medieval life was like in the city.
The museum also houses a ceremonial sword and two maces gifted to the city by King Edward IV in 1462.
On the lower floors, you can join costumed performers/tour guides who will take you on a tour of the museum’s two medieval chambers, the 13th-century Choristers’ Hall and the 15th-century Mayor’s Wine Vault.
The Bishop's Palace
The Bishop’s Palace Museum, a Georgian mansion dating from 1741 details the city’s history from 1700 through 1970.
The building was formerly the home of the Church of Ireland bishop of Waterford.
Some of the unique artifacts in the museum include the only surviving Bonaparte “mourning cross,” which was one of 12 produced after Napoleon Bonaparte died in 1821.
The oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crytal, a Penrose decanter that dates back to 1789, is also on display here.
Costumed characters lead guided tours of the museum, making this a lively, fun-filled tour.
Of the three museums mentioned above, Reginald’s Tower is the one most relevant to Waterford’s Viking history.
The tower that you see today, made of stone, was built on the remains of a wooden tower built by the Vikings.
Historians believe that its name is taken from Ragnall mac Gillemaire, a Hiberno-Norse ruler of the city.
It is considered the oldest civic building in Ireland, which protected the city against invaders.
Over the years, the tower has served as an arsenal, a prison, and a mint.
The tower houses a number of fascinating artifacts, including decorated weights, used by the Vikings for trading before coins were created.
Other interesting objects on display include a broken Viking sword and a kite brooch made of silver and decorated with sumptuous gold foil and amethyst-colored glass studs.
You might want to know, also, about the tower’s interesting staircase.
Its 56 steps, known as the “stumble steps,” were built into the wall of the tower and were deliberately designed to be of different heights and widths, making it difficult for attackers to climb.
It is also oriented to the right, which made it impossible for right-handed attackers to swing their swords as they moved upward.
Don’t forget to take a look at the Viking sword situated outside the museum.
The average length of a visit is one hour.
Admission for adults is €5, seniors/groups €4, children and students €3, and family admission is €13.
The King of the Vikings Experience
If you want to get into the Viking mood, check out “King of the Vikings,” a 3D virtual reality attraction that is part of a Viking replica house.
The 3D adventure takes place in the atmospheric ruins of a medieval monastery in the heart of a bustling city.
Listen to stories about life in Viking Waterford while wearing a helmet (3D Oculus Rift headset) that will transport you back in time.
The attraction is located next to Reginald’s Tower.
It is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Each virtual reality tour is 30 minutes.