Since Cork was founded by St. Finbarr over 1000 years ago it has grown from a trading merchant city to a cosmopolitan vibrant 21st century city of today. Rich in history and tradition yet increasingly urbane and sophisticated, the ever-evolving city of Cork is a vibrant place with a unique blend of contemporary style and old world charm. The fiercely proud and independent locals like to claim Cork is "the real capital" of Ireland.
Set on an island in the River Lee, Cork's streets expand up the river banks on either side to the ornate French Gothic spires of St. Fin Barre's Cathedral and the soaring tower of the Church of St. Anne's where you can ring the famous Shandon Bells. Many fine buildings line the city streets, from the imposing City Hall to its poignant 19th-century City Gaol.
Pedestrian laneways and narrow streets, small boutiques, gourmet food shops, top-notch restaurants and a host of interesting pubs and clubs fan out across the city centre, as well as a wide selection of contemporary galleries, acclaimed museums and cutting-edge theatres hosting the best from the national and international arts scene.
Live music spills out the doors of the city's traditional watering holes and modern bars, and a strong festival program attracts the best of film, jazz, folk, literary and musical talent year round. Renowned for their friendliness and enthusiasm, the people of Cork create a buzzing atmosphere in the city. The numerous city parks are popular for outdoor games and gourmet picnics sourced at the central and celebrated English Market, a covered system of stalls selling everything from fine cheeses to exotic home-baked breads. Elsewhere the Coal Quay market is the place to unearth hidden treasures, rummage through the bric-a-brac and find the ultimate souvenir of the city.