Powerscourt House: Discover the Enchanting Gardens of County Wicklow

Updated On: November 08, 2023

Powerscourt House and Garden County Wicklow

The Incredible Powerscourt House and Gardens in County Wicklow are one of the must-see things in Ireland. The Estate was voted No.3 for its spectacular gardens by the National Geographic Magazine, on their list of the top ten gardens around the world, which is pretty impressive.

The Irish attraction is also famous for being the home of Ireland’s tallest waterfall, which when you see it up close, will give you that wow factor, it’s pretty amazing, to say the least, and no photo will ever do it justice.

Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland - October 28, 2019: Powerscourt House and Gardens is one of Ireland top tourist attraction. Powerscourt House
Powerscourt House and Gardens is one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions

The Powerscourt House was also voted by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 houses in the world. All these amazing acknowledgements should make you want to head straight to Wicklow and discover the beauty that lies at the Powerscourt Estate, as there is so much to see and enjoy that will make for an unforgettable time in Ireland.

The History at Powerscourt House

The magnificent house located here offers those visiting the opportunity to explore its compelling 800 years of history.  Starting with the 1st Viscount Powerscourt, who wanted to make sure he left his mark on Ireland long after he was gone, he did this by converting a medieval Irish castle into a spectacular and grand mansion, which was the Powerscourt House. 

In 1730, he hired one of Ireland’s most renowned architects at the time, Richard Castle, to build the vision he had for the Powerscourt House. A  remarkable mansion that would include 68 rooms was officially completed in 1741 on the beautiful County Wicklow estate.

The house was created in the style of Palladian architecture with unique features that included baroque domed- roof towers of both sides. This grand architecture was considered as “ the massive dignity of a great Italian Renaissance Villa” by an architectural historian.

On the north side of the house, it was given a grand entrance again with the Palladian architecture style in mind, while the south side faced open to the gardens and was originally only two storeys high. In 1787, they added on an extra storey and more renovations were made in the 19th century. 

The insides of the house are just as spectacular as the outside, if not more, with some of the finest 19th-century interiors on display that helped it become recognised as one of Ireland’s most beautiful mansions. The Powerscourt House was then purchased by the Slazenger family in 1961, from the 9th Viscount Powerscourt.

A Blazing Tale

While in 1974, after major renovations to the house, as it was to join the Powerscourt Gardens as a visitors attraction, an awful fire broke out, on the top floor of the house on November 4th. By the next morning, the main part of Powerscourt roof fell through.

However, no one was hurt in the fire but there was tremendous damage to the main reception rooms and bedrooms. The walls of the house, which had stonework dating back to the 13th offered a harsh reminder of the tragic fire for 20 years.

Eventually, in 1996, the roof of Powerscourt House was fixed and the house was officially opened by President Mary Robinson in 1997 to allow visitors to the attraction.  

Today’s Powerscourt House

Today visitors can explore the brilliant Powerscourt House offering a fine example of Irish design both inside and out. It is truly an Irish gem to appreciate with lots to offer, with some stunning views overlooking the famous Sugarloaf Mountain.

A place perfect to relax and wander around the great selection of stores and stop by the popular Avoca Terrance Cafe for a sweet treat.

The Powerscourt House has become a bespoken shopping area, where you can discover the best of Irish designs through jewellery, furniture and clothing.

Located here is the Avoca stores filled with a range of books, childrenswear, soft furnishings, as well as the delicious food area. All the food here is sourced locally including the renown Avoca jams, homemade bread and irresistible cakes.

Powerscourt House offers a fine example of Irish design both inside and out
Powerscourt House offers a fine example of Irish design both inside and out

If you enjoy finding unique pieces that would be perfect for your home, you must check out Global Village on the first floor of the Irish Mansion. It offers a range of eclectic selection of furniture and accessories for your home, to give it that wow factor that will certainly impress others.

The Powerscourt House has also turned into a fantastic wedding venue, where you’ll get that authentic Irish beauty as its set within the enchanting Wicklow Mountains. This would be the perfect location to make your special day unforgettable.

The Powerscourt Estate Gardens

One thing that draws the visitors to the Powerscourt Estate is the world renown gardens on display here. The amazing garden designs are led by the head gardener, Alex Slazenger, who regularly takes tours around the gardens for those wishing to learn more about his team’s magnificent work, who make sure the gardens are looking their best all year long.

The Italian Garden

First, of the amazing gardens, you’ll find at the Powerscourt Estate is the truly inspiring landscape and design of the ‘Italian Gardens’ that is powered by the dramatic backdrop of the Sugarloaf Mountain.

The captivating terraces in this garden were created by original garden architect Daniel Robertson during the 1840s. He brought the garden to life and will make you stop in your tracks and appreciate its undeniable beauty.

Incredibly, the garden terraces that links the Powerscourt House to the lake, took 12 years to build including over 100 labourers to get the job done.

It is known as the ‘Italian Garden’ as its heavily influenced by Italian architecture and design such as the stone terrace closest to the house was inspired by Villa Butera in Sicily, Italy.

A bit of history was also left here by the 7th Viscount who was taken out of school at seven years old, to lay the first stone in the garden grounds.

One of the most famous features of the ‘Italian Garden’ is the life-sized winged horses looking over the lake. These features include the coat of arms of the family made by Professor Hugo Hagen in Berlin. There is also the eye-catching fountain in the lake which again was inspired by the Italian designed fountain in the Piazza Barberini in Rome.

Japanese Garden

Just as impressive as the Italian Garden is the tranquil oriental styled Japanese Garden at Powerscourt Estate. Again the design of this Japanese Garden was created over 100 years by the 8th Viscount of Powerscourt in 1908.

It offers some of the most amazing Irish scenery on view at Lord Londonderry’s seat, perched overlooking the Japanese Garden, which was considered a favourite spot for him to just stop and enjoy the views on display, and you can do the same today.

The Japanese Garden has its own unique style and meaning as beautiful stone lanterns guide you through its lovely garden paths that lead you to its innermost circle. At the circle, you’ll find a Pagoda along with a small stream located under a unique Japanese bridge.

This will then lead you to another circle, including a ring of Chinese Fortune Palms which have been famous in China for many centuries but first brought over to Europe in 1830. The next circle offers you stunning views of the Japanese Gardens with eye-catching colours of the Japanese maples that are most noticeable in Autumn. 

The concept behind each of the circles is to help people discover their inner selves, as you make your way outwards to gain greater knowledge of the world. Its also a must to toss a coin in the Japanese Garden and hopefully you’ll find luck in the future.

Next, to the Japanese Garden,  check out one of the oldest features in the Powerscourt Estate; The Grotto. A  fascinating grotto that dates back to the 1st Viscounts garden in 1740. It offers a beautiful look with a romantic atmosphere that will captive you, as you wander around.

Ireland’s Highest Waterfall 

You can’t make a trip to the Powerscourt Estate without checking out one of its breathtaking features, this is, of course, the Waterfall. Standing at 393ft high and within one of Ireland’s most stunning parklands, it will truly leave you in awe.

The waterfall had often provided the ideal summer location to have a picnic and to enjoy the Irish weather when it’s at its best. The area is also a haven for wildlife, where people are made to be mindful of this and let the animals roam freely.

Powerscourt House offers so much to see with its enchanting gardens, historic house, shopping facility and more that make for a memorable trip in County Wicklow.

Opening Times and Prices for The Powerscourt Attractions

Waterfall Times:

  • January/February/November/December: 10:30am – 4:00pm
  • March/April/September/October:  10:30am – 5:30pm
  • May/June/July/August: 9:30am – 7:00pm

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult: €6
  • Child (Under 12’s): €3:50 
  • Family Ticket (Two adults and up to three children): €16
  • Children under 2 are free

Powerscourt Garden Opening Times

  • Daily – 9:30am – 5:30pm – (Last entry 5pm)
  • Dust throughout Winter
  • Closed on 25th & 26th of December

Avoca Terrance Cafe Opening Times

  • Daily – 9:30 – 5:30 pm

Have you ever been to Powerscourt House and Gardens? Comment below your favourite attraction in the estate! Another enchanting garden you must check in County Wicklow is the Kilmacurragh National Botanic Garden!

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