The name might not sound inspiring, but one glimpse of the General Post Office’s (GPO) imposing facade is sure to capture your attention with its ornate stone-carved portico and iconic statues punctuating the skyline.
The monumental building was constructed on O'Connell Street between 1815 and 1818 as the headquarters of the Irish postal service. Designed by Francis Johnston, the building’s architectural prowess features a Greek-revival theme, with 55-foot (17-meter) high Greco-Roman pillars and a series of dramatic Ionic columns flanking the entrance. Statues of Hibernia (goddess of Ireland), Fidelity and Mercury (messenger of the gods) stand proud atop the roof – the handiwork of sculptor John Smyth.
The GPO isn’t simply a landmark though; its walls hide an illustrious history. The building was famously used as the main stronghold of Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Easter Rising and the front steps were where Patrick Pearse made his famous pre-siege speech, declaring a free Irish Republic. While the ensuing battles all but destroyed the original building, the lovingly restored building remains a symbol of Irish freedom.
Today the building is once again a working post office, although the captivating architecture has made it a popular tourist photo spot. Take a look around as you’re stamping your postcards, as there are still a few remnants of its legendary status – bullet holes can still be seen in the roof, a statue of Cuchulainn (Irish god of war) stands in the window and the original Declaration of Independence is still proudly displayed on the walls.