City Hall of Dublin
City Hall was originally built as the Royal Exchange, and is a notable example of 18th-century architecture in the city. The structure was designed by Thomas Cooley, who had won a design competition run for the project between 1768 and 1769. The exterior of the building is primarily made out of white Portland stone from a quarry in Dorset. The large size and fittings of the exchange, with carved capitals by Simon Vierpyl, and plasterwork by the leading stuccodore Charles Thorpe, reflect the standing and prestige of Dublin in the 18th Century. The neo-classical building contains a central entrance hall or Rotunda, with a large dome supported by twelve columns which are surrounded by an ambulatory where the merchants strolled and discussed business meetings.
The function of the building was to provide a meeting place for Dublin's businessmen, where they could buy and sell goods and trade bills of exchange. It was also close to the then Customs House that stood on the site of today's Clarence Hotel, making it convenient for overseas merchants. The cost of building the exchange was met by the Parliament of Ireland, and this is reflected by the initials "SPQH", standing for "Senatus PopulusQue Hibernicus", meaning "The senate and people of Ireland".
The grandeur of the rotunda offers an exceptional ambience, which is second to none. The high ceilings, ornate dome and Romanesque pillars ensure that guests will be enveloped by the opulence of this historical building.