King John’s Castle is one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Europe. This 13th-century fortress is located in the heart of the medieval city of Limerick. It stands on a hill by the majestic River Shannon, and from the castle itself, one can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
King John’s Castle is quite an imposing figure, built by King John of England and an enduring testament to Ireland’s long history.
King John’s Castle: History And All The Things You Need To Know
King John’s Castle is one of the most popular places to visit in Limerick and one of the best Irish castles to visit. It is known for its fun, interactive displays as well as an impressive collection of original artifacts.
Visitors can also climb up to the tower and enjoy stunning views over the river and Limerick City.
A Brief History of King John’s Castle
The area where the castle was built used to be a Viking settlement. When visiting the castle, one can still see the original underground settlement walls and traces of medieval dwellings. The castle that we know today was constructed during the first Norman conquest of Ireland, between 1200 and 1210.
It is a formidable sight made up of bold drum towers, solid curtain walls, and a sound turreted gateway. Its purpose was to serve as a base to subdue the Gaelic Chieftains of the West. The castle dominated the surrounding area for centuries, a witness to the rise of Limerick as both a port and trading center during the Middle Ages.
During the infamous Siege of Limerick in the 17th century, one wall of the castle was heavily damaged.
This event led to the Treaty of Limerick, which also ended the Williamite War between the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange. This treaty also signaled the conclusion of the Siege of Limerick.
Since then, the castle has been witness not just too numerous events in Ireland’s history, but also the development of its surrounding area. This area around the castle is the oldest part of Limerick and known as King’s Island. Also referred to as Englishtown, this part was originally walled.
Back in the earlier times, this served as the town’s administrative center.
King John’s Castle was redeveloped between 2011 and 2013, supported by a budget of €5.7 million. The project focused on improving visitor facilities that included the now-famous interactive exhibitions, a brand new visitor center, and a cafe.
About King John
King John was also known as Lackland, the youngest of 5 sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitane. He was the brother of Richard the Lionheart. King John is probably best known for signing the Magna Carta in 1219.
This Magna Carta has always been considered as a pre-curser to the Bill of Rights that we know today. He was King of England from April 1199 until 1216, when he died at the age of fifty.
King John’s Castle Today
After the recent improvements made in the castle, it attracted even more visitors. The castle is now among the best places to visit in Limerick.
A tour of the castle isn’t just your average self-guided audio tour or one that’s accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. The visitor center boasts if interactive exhibitions, animated displays, and audiovisual presentations. They all detail the castle’s long history, in a way that’s both eye-catching and fun.
Check out the touch screen displays, CGI animations, and hologram-like projections that will make you feel as if you’re back in the medieval times.
During peak season, King John’s Castle also has costumed characters as guides. They tell stories, share trivia, and interact with visitors.
A year-round fixture in King John’s is the on-site cafe that’s a favorite hang-out for visitors where they can sit and relax in between exploring the castle.
Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. But despite living in several countries, my love for Ireland remains the same. A country that had been a part of my life since I was 14 because of my love for Irish music and bands. Ireland Travel Guides was born because of this passion and hopefully, in some little ways, this website will be able to help you on your next trip to Ireland.