Offering unquestionably the best views in Kilkenny City, the 9th century round tower at Saint Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower is always worth a visit.
The tower is the oldest standing structure in the city and holds a commanding position on the hill of Irishtown. It is one of only two round towers in Ireland that can be climbed.
The tower is not for the faint-hearted and it's 121 steps and 7 wooden ladders will bring you 100 feet (30.48m) high. Anyone with a fear of heights is advised to shut their ears as an audio recording alludes to the lean of the tower, it's shallow foundations and that "It should stay standing long enough for you to reach the top".
The tower is 2.2 feet (0.7m) off-centre and has foundations of only 40cm deep! The tower was originally capped but it is now unique in that it's flat, accessible top allows spectacular views of the city. The tower tapers and is 4.5m wide at the base and 3.3m wide at the top.
In 1847 during archaeological investigations, 4 bodies were found buried directly beneath the round tower; 2 adults and 2 children. The arched doorway can be accessed 2.7m above ground by a steep, metal staircase. Just before the top, there are 6 equally spaced window openings, most round towers only had four (North, South, East and West).
Up to 12 people are allowed in the tower at any time and trying to negotiate past other visitors is arguably the hardest part of the climb. A visit to the tower on it's own is well worth the effort but taking in the equally magnificent cathedral while you're there is a must.
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