On my holiday in August, I visited one of the most beautiful houses and gardens in Ireland. The world-famous Powerscourt House & Gardens.
So, located in Enniskerry in County Wicklow, Powerscourt Estate (Irish: Eastát Chúirt a Phaoraigh) is one of Ireland’s leading tourist attractions. It is a large country estate that is noted for its house and landscaped gardens. Today occupying 19 hectares (47 acres).
National Geographic called the Powerscourt Gardens the 3rd most beautiful gardens in the world.
After Château de Versailles in France and Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in England.
Moreover, the magnificent 47-acre gardens are voted 3rd best garden in the World. There is a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues, and ornamental lakes, secret hollows, and rambling walks.
What`s more, the impressive Powerscourt House was originally a 13th-century castle. Besides, it was extensively altered during the 18th century by German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731 and finishing in 1741. A fire in 1974 left the house lying as a shell until it was renovated in 1996.
The original owner of the 13th-century castle was an Anglo-Norman nobleman by the name of La Poer. His surname was eventually anglicized to “Power.” The castle’s position was of strategic military importance. The castle’s owner could control access to the nearby Dargle, Glencree, and Glencullen rivers. The three-story house had at least 68 rooms.
During the 16th century, the house came into the ownership of the Powerscourt family.
The family rose in wealth and prominence. In the 18th century Richard Wingfield, 1st Viscount Powerscourt commissioned the architect Richard Cassels to extensively alter and remodel the medieval castle. He created a modern country house. Work started in 1731 and finished in 1741.
King George IV was the guest of the 5th Viscount Powerscourt in August 1821.
In 1844, at the age of 8, Mervyn Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt, inherited the title and the Powerscourt Estate. Which comprised 200 km2 (77 sq mi) of land in Ireland. When young Lord Powerscourt reached the age of 21. He embarked on an extensive renovation of the house and created new gardens.
Inspiration for the garden design followed visits by Powerscourt to ornamental gardens at the Palace of Versailles, Schönbrunn Palace near Vienna, and Schwetzingen Castle near Heidelberg. The garden development took 20 years to complete in 1880.
In 1961, the estate was sold by the 9th Viscount Powerscourt to the Slazenger family. Founders and former owners of the Slazenger sporting goods business, since 1961, who still own it as of 2021.
The house was destroyed by fire on 4 November 1974 and was subsequently renovated in 1996. It is now home to a range of craft and interior shops featuring Irish Design.
In 2011, Lonely Planet nominated Powerscourt House in the Top Ten Houses in the World.
The main attractions on the grounds of Powerscourt Gardens include:
- Italian Garden,
- Italianate Terrace,
- Triton’s Lake,
- Winged Horses Statues,
- Japanese Garden,
- Pepperpot Tower,
- Pets` Cemetery,
- Dolphin Pond,
- Walled Garden,
- Memorial Garden to Julia.
Italian Garden & Italianate Terraces
The Italian Garden truly offers the best of garden landscaping and design. The SugarLoaf Mountain beyond the gardens is one of the best views in Ireland. The Italianate Terraces were designed in the 1840s by architect Daniel Robertson and took 100 men over 12 years to build.
The Powerscourt House was once a beautiful Palladian Mansion, home to Lord Powerscourt and his family for over 350 years. Sadly the house was destroyed by fire in the 1970s but was renovated, although not to its former glory. It now features a Terrace Café and specialty shopping. Tara’s Palace, a museum for children is located in Powerscourt House and is a favorite among our visitors.
The Statuary are exciting sculptures of Gods and myths including statues of Apollo Belvedere and Diana, collected by the 6th and 7th Lord Powerscourt on their travels to Europe. Fame & Victory – these winged figures were created for the 7th Viscount in 1866 by Professor Hugo Hagen of Berlin from the design of the great German sculptor Rauch. Then, there are also sculptures of The Sitting Mercury And Sleeping Faun, The Bronze Group Of Children, and Two Men Fighting. Further, the Sundial Fountain features the figures of Eolus and the head of Apollo, The Spitting Men, and The Laocoön which is an enormous piece of sculpture based on a Greek legend.
Italian Garden is perfectly manicured, and each side is symmetric. Therefore, it’s the perfect vista rolling down to beautiful Triton’s Lake. Triton is the Greek God of the Sea sits in the center of the lake and gushes a large fountain of water skywards. Furthermore, the Fountain is based on the fountain in the Piazza Barberini in Rome and completes the splendid vista from the Powerscourt House down to the lake.
Winged Horses Statues
One of the most striking features of the Italian Gardens is the pair of life-sized Winged Horses Statues that watch over the lake. They form part of the family coat of arms and were made by Professor Hugo Hagen in Berlin in 1869. Moreover, facing away from the house gives beautiful views of Sugarloaf Mountain.
The Japanese Garden was created by the 8th Viscount and Viscountess Powerscourt in 1908. This beautiful mythical garden was created on the reclaimed bogland south of Triton Lake over 100 years ago. The best view of the garden is Lord Londonderry’s stone seat, perched high above the Japanese Garden. Besides, the Japanese Garden is an area known as the Grotto, with walls made from fossilized moss.
The Pepperpot Tower is when you stroll beyond the Japanese Gardens, you will come upon Tower Valley surrounded by a stunning variety of trees. Here you will find the Pepperpot Tower which was modeled on a pepperpot from Lord Powerscourt’s dining table! It is from this that Tower Valley received its distinctive name. The scenes from the award-winning TV Series – The Tudors were filmed at the Pepperpot Tower.
The moment visitors arrive at Powerscourt Estate they are greeted with a tree-lined avenue of beech trees planted over 250 years ago by the 1st Viscount Powerscourt. The River Walk at Powerscourt features the tallest tree in Ireland, a Douglas Fir.
A unique part of the Powerscourt Gardens is the Pets` Cemetery which is the resting place of the much-loved pets of the Wingfield and Slazenger families. The cemetery is believed to be the largest pet cemetery in any private Irish garden.
Beside the Pets’ Cemetery is The Dolphin Pond which gets its name from the central fountain which has a jet and dolphins spouting water up to 5 meters. It was brought from Paris by the 7th Viscount in the late 19th century. It was once known as “The Green Pond” and is one of the oldest parts of Powerscourt Gardens, even appearing on a 1740 map of the estate as a fish pond.
The Walled Gardens are one of the oldest parts of the Powerscourt Gardens and feature fascinating plants along Ireland’s largest herbaceous border. Besides, they were once known as ‘The Kitchen Garden’ as vegetable and fruit trees once grew here to keep the family kitchen well stocked.
Memorial Garden to Julia
In the Walled Garden, you will find The Memorial Garden to Julia, the widow of the 7th Viscount Powerscourt, which was designed by her son in 1931. The four busts are those of the four great Italian masters; Michael Angelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and Benvenuto Cellini. These are copies of those at the Vatican and the work of Alexander McDonald completed in Rome in 1878. Her husband Mervyn, the 7th Viscount also named the bust of a lady at the front of the house “Empress Julia”.
Avoca Terrace Café
Finally, make sure you go to The Avoca Terrace Café in Powerscourt. It’s a lovely place for lunch/dinner after visiting the Gardens. What`s more, the café boasts tall windows and French doors leading out onto an expansive garden terrace. Therefore, it offers an amazing setting with a breathtaking panorama of the gardens against the backdrop of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain.
To sum up, the Powerscourt Gardens was incredible with unbelievable views. Moreover, the impressive spectacular Powerscourt House, Statuary, and Triton Lake were fantastic. It also amazed me Japanese Garden and Walled Garden. Besides, I went on a very hot and sunny day. Therefore, I was delighted by all the beauty that was there. Powerscourt is undoubtedly worth traveling to see if you are in the area.
Powerscourt Gardens & Riverwalk are open 7 Days a week from 09.30 – 17.00 (last entry 30 minutes before close). The ticket price for an adult was €11.50.
For more info visit the official website: powerscourt.com
Location of Powerscourt House & Gardens: