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Places to Go in Wales -Cardiff

Updated on January 12, 2012
Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle
New Theatre, Cardiff
New Theatre, Cardiff

In and Around Cardiff, South Wales.

I have lived in and around Cardiff, capital city of Wales since 1976, so I thought, why not write about this city that has been my home for more than half of my life?

Going back about 100 years ago, Cardiff may not have been a very attractive place for the visitor with its docklands and its being once the foremost centre for the exportation of coal in the world. But nowadays with most of the coal industry gone, it is a different place altogether and quite an impressive city.

Cardiff City is steeped in history and legend, and although as a Welshman I may be a little biased, it presents a most fascinating place to visit. One merely has to walk, drive or cruise on one of the many open-topped tourist buses to view the city's ornate architecture, with its great Castle and Edwardian civic centre, all interspersed by flowering trees and ornate flower beds.

Cardiff Castle

One building whose presence dominates the city is that of Cardiff Castle and when viewed from certain angles, once could easily view it as a Walt Disney creation (see photo). But its original history goes way back to Norman times when it was just a Norman Keep and before that just timber defences built by a Robert Fitshamon, the Norman Lord of Glamorgan. And before that, it had been a Roman fort.

Gradually in its development, many people who were not of Welsh origin were attracted to this imposing building. However as you can imagine, this caused some friction when the native Welsh did not take kindly to their presence and there were many attacks on the castle from their surrounding villages.

One day in 1158, Lord Ifor ap Meurig, of Sengenydd. the Norman Lord of Glamorgan, together with his Countess were in residence at the Castle when an attack occurred. The two were kidnapped and held for ransom. The locals were accusing them of inflicting certain "injustices" on the natives. What those injustices were, I can find no record of, but with the imaginative pain-inflicting contraptions that existed in that day and age, they were hardly likely to have been very pleasant!

To come forward in history to 1865, the castle underwent a massive make-over, to put it in modern-day terms. In charge of the work was a (now famous) architect named William Burges working under the under the instructions of the third Marquess of Bute. Money was no object to our Marquis and this work made Cardiff Castle into the amazing spectacle it is today.

Guided tours around the castle reveals some very ornate decoration… The 'Chaucer Room', based on Chaucer's works; the richly decorated Arab room; the Summer Smoking Rooms decorated with emblems of the universe, to name but a few.

Cardiff, City of Shopping.

The new Saint David Shopping Mall, with extensive works that were completed in 2009, has a huge variety of stores that would satisfy even the most ardent of shoppers. And then, if you are partial to a little nostalgia for the past, there are several Victorian Arcades to explore, with small traders that have been there for generations.

Built on the site of a farmer's market that existed back in the 18th century, Cardiff has a Victorian indoor market, that is situated just off the St. David's complex. It boasts a variety of stalls, and one is welcomed by its main entrance with the smell of fresh fish. Inside there are many bargain stalls on the ground flour and around a first floor surrounding balcony where one can purchase everything from pet food to second-hand music on vinyl and CD and film on DVD and even video - the last time I looked.

Cardiff's Entertainment

For entertainment, a "must visit" is Cardiff New Theatre.. Well, not so "new" now, being first opened circa 1906. (see second picture). Currently it hosts a variety of plays and musical shows, and in the months running up to Christmas, there is a pantomime for the younger at heart.

St. David's Hall, is a more modern entertainment venue. It is part of the shopping mall and here is a variety of entertainment all the year round, from some of the biggest names in show business like Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones to famous comedians, orchestras and opera stars.

Other attractions in and around Cardiff are the National Museum of Wales, with it's fine artifacts of Welsh history, paintings and other collections. About five miles to the West of the City, St. Fagan's Folk museum which is said to be one of the biggest open-air museums in Europe. The museums are deserving of an article in themselves and they will be the subject of another article.

Thanks for reading.
Places in Wales


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