Waterford City is the oldest city in Ireland for a reason. It was founded in 914 AD by the Vikings from Norway and became a Norse settlement because of its close proximity to the waters. Regnall, the Viking adventurer, would later leave Waterford but the city would be already established to become a center of trade and commerce for years to come.
Cobh to Waterford is about three hours drive to the east, and if you have a day to spare, i would recommend exploring its medieval past. There’s no better place to start than the only purpose-built medieval museum building in Ireland: Waterford’s Medieval Museum.
The best preserved structure in the Medieval Museum can be found underneath the building. Framed by vaulted ceiling and thick walls, the Wine Vault by Peter Rice, the former mayor of Waterford, survived even though the original house was not standing anymore.
The rich history of Waterford makes it a treasure trove of medieval treasures. There are two impressive artifacts worth seeing inside the museum. Viewed by Queen Elizabeth II on her visit in Ireland, the Great Charter Roll of Waterford is a hand-penned 233 sheets of illustrated manuscript that preserves the records of the city from 1356 to 1649.
Of cultural and religious importance is the magnificent Cloth of High Mass Gold vestments, made from Italian silk and woven in Florence, this is the only complete pre-reformation set to survive in Northern Europe. Some items of interest that also deserves a second look are the double-armed wooden relic which is said to be from the cross of Jesus’ crucifixion, the elaborate Sword of Edward IV and the only surviving cap of King Henry VIII.
Medieval Waterford did not escape the difficult and sometimes barbaric time that pervaded all over Europe. Alongside the royalty and high class life that is displayed on the museum, there is also the sad depiction of poverty, famine, rebellion, public execution and miserable living condition among locals.
Before I finish this post, i like to leave you with a very important tip to maximize your time and money during your visit: Purchase the Freedom of Waterford Pass. This allows entrance to Medieval Museum, Bishop’s Palace, Time Museum, Silver Museum, Epic Walking Tour, Christ Church Cathedral.
Thank you for reading.
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