First established in 1662, Phoenix Park is the largest walled city park in Europe, measuring 1752 acres. Home to a large herd of fallow deer and numerous oak, ash, lime, beech, sycamore and horse chestnut trees, it provides a peaceful oasis from the busy city centre nearby, yet at the same time has no shortage of things to do and see. The park plays host to regular fun runs, motor racing and open air concerts, and has football and hurling pitches and a polo field.
The Park is located in Dublin 8, just north of the river to the west of the city centre. Dublin 8, along with Dublin 20, is unusual as it includes areas to the north of the river. Other postal districts use odd numbers for north Dublin and even numbers for the south. The name Phoenix Park is simply an anglicisation of the original Irish name, Páirc an Fhionnuisce. This comes from the phrase fionn uisce, meaning clear water, and is unrelated to the English word 'phoenix'.
The Visitor Centre, in the north of the park, features exhibitions on the history of the park and its wildlife. Admission is free. Other places of interest within the park include Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (the official home of the President of Ireland), the headquarters of An Garda Síochána (the Irish Police Force) and the Papal Cross, built for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979, at the point where he celebrated an open air Mass which was attended by over 1 million people.