The Round Tower of Glendalough – Wicklow, Ireland - Atlas Obscura

The Round Tower of Glendalough

This ancient Irish tower could easily have stood in for Rapunzel's prison. 


Situated in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin, Glendalough is home to the ruins of a monastery founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin.

Scattered among two lakes and lush woods are numerous structures, mostly from between the 10th and 12 centuries. Among them are a magnificent gateway, a handful of chapels, a cathedral, and a large stone cross; however, the most iconic is the 30-meter-high Round Tower that looks like something straight out of a fairy tale.

All of them were made with delicate and beautiful masonry and walking throughout the valley one can’t help but understand why the ancient monks chose this location for their sanctuary. The tall tower, which is situated just beyond the equally ancient cemetery, was used for a number of purposes. In times of trouble it served to protect the monks from their enemies, and in friendlier times it was also used as a bell tower. Inside the spire are six wooden floors that could be ascended via a series of ladders. While the entrance to the tower is pointed towards the monastery, the top floor of the structure features windows pointed in each of the cardinal directions.  

Aside from the man-made sights, there are the two lakes, the lovely little river, and gorgeous mountains all around, although it is the unmistakably ancient structures that make Glendalough stand out among the rest of Ireland’s beautiful landscapes. 

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