Wales - United Kingdom
Cardiff - Capital City
In this article I wanted to create something which describes a little more about Wales than the other Hubs I've seen when searching through other 'Tour Guides' on Hubpages. The majority of articles I read seemed to concentrate on Beauty spots and a few made reference to Historical Castles, I too have mentioned a few Castles but only the one from The Capital City and one to emphasize North Wales's heritage also.
I wanted my article to be one of the best for the Hubtrail Capstone and I feel I have the local knowledge to achieve this being a Welsh resident since birth and knowing the major places of interest in my immediate area.
Back to the first photo I would like to mention that Cardiff Castle is more than an old ruined fort, it is situated right in the city center alongside a lot of high street shops! Inside there are always activities going on from historical re-enactments to musical events such as concerts, this years line-up includes medieval jousting, knights sword fighting and an open-air theater. On a beautiful warm summer's day when the sun is shining you can drive past Cardiff Castle and see student's sitting on the grass of the 'courtyard', and others resting from a hard day's shopping!
Besides Cardiff Castle dating back 2000 years as a Roman Garrison, It was a Norman Keep built by Robert Consul the Lord of Gloucester in the 12th AD and it was later used as a Norman Prison by Duke Robert of Normandy, the eldest of William the Conquerors sons.
You might think that the stone statues which can be seen on the surrounding high street walls and the clock tower at the gatehouse look more recently built. This is because the latter structures were designed by English born architect William Burges(1827-1881), the clock tower was to be a revival of French Gothic style and Burges had the privilege of pursuing his artistically unique structures due to his large earnings from his architectural career. Due to his passing away in 1881, Burges fairytale animal wall was completed by his assistant William Frame in 1890 and is one of the only statue wall's in Britain where the animals have glass colored eyes.
Second Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/33124746@N04/4275064199/
Third Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/23045224@N04/2895696812/
Cardiff Bay is another exciting place in the countries capital which you have to visit when traveling around the City, it is only 5 minutes from the center by taxi. It boasts many beautiful works of architecture both Modern and dating to the late 1800's, not to mention an array of artistic sculptures and statues that tell a story of Cardiff's history.
Above we have the Pierhead Building which was in fact also designed by William Frame who was mentioned earlier on in this article, and was build in 1897. The latter landscape includes the most luxurious Hotel in Cardiff on the far right and other more recently build restaurants and bars intended to make it a must visit tourist and nightlife attraction. I have been on many a weekend and it really is a enjoyable atmosphere, I live 10 minutes down the motorway in the neighboring city of Newport which you can read about in my other article regarding it as the Ryder Cup host for 2010.
Fourth Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/lodekka/3292337545/in/set-72157604107362433/
Fifth Photo courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Cardiff_Bay_at_night.jpg
Snowdonia(Top) & Brecon Beacons(Bottom)
In the first photograph above we can see the highest mountain in range in Wales, Snowdonia which is the perfect resort for anyone interested in Hiking holidays. The Snowdonia mountains span from mid Wales to the the North of Wales, with Snowdon being the peak and its nearest city being Bangor. Breathtaking views can be seen from Hafod Eryri which is at the summit, there is even a visitor center which has now been built from solid granite at the peak where people can have refreshments and use toilet facilities.
The second photo shows the mountain range near the Welsh market town Brecon in Mid Wales. The Brecon Beacon's national park is a conservationally protected area with more than just hiking on offer, it has mountain biking, horse riding plus sailing, canoeing, wind surfing and fishing within its rivers and reservoirs. The highest point of the mountains being Pen y Fan which 886m and there is a popular walk taken by hiker's known as the 'Brecon Horseshoe', mainly called so because the skyline of the Taf Fechan river is surrounded by the ridge.
Seventh Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/nice1top1sorted/2875593977/
Blaenavon Coal(Top) & Ironworks(Bottom)
The first photo shows Big PIt Coal Mining Museum, Blaenavon is a small town 10 minutes drive from my home city Newport. The Coal Mining Museum is a popular destination amongst school field trips because it teaches children about an important industry amongst our Welsh ancestors and it is also very educational for adults of all ages because there are only a few surviving mines left in Britain. At BIg Pit the most exciting feature is the opportunity to travel 90 metres down the mining shaft to experience first hand the conditions and claustrophobic amount of space the workers would of had to endure.
In the second photo which is also situated in Blaenavon, is the Ironworks. Here you can see the best preserved blast furnace of its period in the world, during the Industrial Revolution this was one of the largest producers of Iron in the world and upon walking around the remains you will see a beautifully restored Water Balance Tower, the Cast Houses and informative boards about the international importance and scientific methods used to produce the Iron.
Eighth Photo courtesy of http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/822880
Ninth Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanstanton/2578432563/
Here is another city I have had the honor of living in, Swansea is toward the West of Wales but is still on the South Coastline, it is quickly becoming one of the leading cities when asked about entertainment within Wales. Not only does it boast a beautiful beach just across the road from the city center and the mumbles pier, but it is also developing a large shopping mall with an industrial estate which includes a large recently build 'Vue' cinema complex. Other activities for when the weather is bad outdoors include the Plantasia Botonic Gardens, this features a wide variety of animals and plants such as prickly cactus, insects, reptiles, fish and monkeys!
The second photo shows the Swansea Harbour Trust building which is working at present to restore the historical docks east of city center which were once a major port for supplying the world with copper produced in the Tawe Valley during the 19th century. The Prince of Wales Dock is being developed into the SA1 Swansea Waterfront similar to that of Cardiff Bay in the earlier photograph shown is what I imagine it will look like.
If you love Poetry which many people on Hubpages do, I suggest you visit the Dylan Thomas Bookshop which is immediately down the road to the right next to the Harbour Trust building in the photograph. In here I remember that you can buy a wide variety of books, recordings and DVD's about the Famous Swansea born Poet.
Tenth Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexmartin81/2650445842/
Eleventh Photo courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/Swansea_harbourtrust.JPG
The Gower Peninsula
Above we can see one of the only places in Wales to be given the honor of 'A place of Outstanding Natural beauty', The Gower which belongs to the county of Swansea has owned this title since 1956. The above photograph shows Rhossili Beach, however I have only ever visited Llanmadoc beach on the South Coast rather than the South West coast. This stretch of hillside and seashore faces out towards the Bristol Channel & Atlantic Ocean, on a Summer's day you can engage in in Walks, Surfing or explore numerous Caves, you can also take Caravan's or pitch a Tent and enjoy the stars not obstructed by city lights like me and my friends did.
Twelfth Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/theodorescott/3069123669/
Harlech Castle - North Wales
Above we can see a photograph of Harlech Castle which could of in fact been place alongside the Snowdonia paragraph because of the reason it resides within the Snowdonia National park, however I thought it was better to have it separate to represent the Welsh Heritage entertainment which can be found within North Wales. The town of Harlech has your traditional country house hotels and hill 'sheep' farms associated with Wales, with the towering purple shadow of Snowdon in one direction and Tremadog Bay directly at its other side.
The English King Edward I built Harlech Castle in the 13th century and it was meant to be a stronghold to hold off Welsh resistance who lived within their mountain confinement nearby. However in 1404 there was a Welsh uprising and Owain Glyn Dwr captured Harlech Castle and he was crowned Prince Prince of Wales with diplomatic messengers from Scotland, France & Spain all present.
Thirteenth Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogdavies/3147723833/
Above we have beautiful sunset photograph taken at the end of the Bangor Peer, Bangor itself is located alongside the Menai Strait, a narrow stretch of tidal water which separates the Welsh mainland county of Gywnedd with the Northern Island of Anglesey.
As was mentioned earlier in this article, Bangor is the closest city to the Snowdonia National Park and Bangor has its own mountain conveniently called 'Bangor Mountain', since Bangor is in fact the one of the smallest cities in the UK, the mountain casts a shadow over the high street during the Winter months of November until March and there is no direct sun light there.
Bangor was named a city due to it having a Cathedral, one of the compulsory conditions of gaining city status in the UK, the name Bangor being an old Welsh word which means 'fenced-in enclosure' such was the case since it has had a Monastic establishment since 6th Century AD when Celtic saint Deiniol founded it.
Fourteenth Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/theancientbrit/2113046365/
Menai Suspension Bridge - Anglesey
The Menai Suspension Bridge is one of only two connections from the Welsh mainland to the Island of Anglesey, at least by automobile that is. It is based at the narrowest point between the tidal water and near Bangor where I have mentioned the Menai Strait already,
The reason I have chosen this bridge to talk about is due to its unique architecture, designed by Thomas Telford in 1826 it is one of the first suspension bridges to be built in modern times. The bridge was authorized due to the fact that Holyhead which is a major port in Anglesey, was one of the principle routes to and from Dublin in Ireland, any other route from London would require up to another 9 hours traveling time. Before the bidge was completed the only form of transporting goods across the Menai was via ferry or by foot when the tide was low and this was highly inefficient.
Fifteenth Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/theancientbrit/2194864805/
Trwyn Du Lighthouse Anglesey
To complete this article I have decided to mention a structure of historical and landscape beauty based upon the Northern Isle of Angelesy, this being the Lighthouse of Trwyn Du near Puffin Island. A lighthouse was first erected here during 1838 because it was clear that the rocks amongst the North entrance to the Menai Strait posed a threat to Ships traveling to and from the busy Liverpool port nearby. During 1831 it was when a Steamer ran aground here and broke apart with 130 dead that designer James Walker was called in to design a Lighthouse which was steeped and would provide resistance to strong tidal waves.
If you would like to access the area near the lighthouse you can pay a small fee to drive up a toll road towards Dinmor point, to do this you must head East out of the county town of Beaumaris and through a small village named Llangoed. Here there is a cafe, shop, restrooms and an ideal spot for sea fishing, although it is not wise to approach the actual lighthouse because it is signposted as 'no access by land', meaning only rocks lead directly to it.
Sixteenth Photo courtesy of http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3615/3385326621_6ae516f00f_o.jpg
Seventeenth Photo courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Wales_outline_map_with_UK.png