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Visiting the Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff, Wales: a fine, Neo-Classical structure evoking solemnity

Updated on November 11, 2011
Flag of Wales
Flag of Wales | Source
Welsh National War Memorial, Cathays Park, Cardiff
Welsh National War Memorial, Cathays Park, Cardiff | Source
Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff
Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff | Source
Map location of Cardiff, Wales
Map location of Cardiff, Wales | Source

Sir Ninian Comper's poignant monument, based on a Corinthian colonnade

This fine, stone structure in the Welsh capital city, Cardiff (Welsh: Cardydd ), Glamorgan (Welsh: Morgannwg ) dates from 1928.

Some history and features

It is the work of Sir Ninian Comper (1864-1960)(1), in tribute to Welsh service personnel who perished in World War One. The monument is named the Welsh National War Memorial (Welsh: Cofeb Ryfel Genedlaethol Cymru ). Sir Ninian began his work in 1924, completing it in 1928.

Within a colonnade, shaped in a circle, there are statues, sculpted by A. Segram, representing a soldier, a sailor and an airman, each holding a wreath; a bronze figure described variously as representing Victory or the Archangel Michael towers above the other statues.

In line with each of the three statues of the service personnel, a portico projects outwards from the circle of Corinthian columns.

The Welsh National War Memorial is complemented by its setting in the well manicured Alexandra Gardens of Cathays Park (Welsh: Parc Cathays ), in the City of Cardiff.

Inscriptions are given in Latin, Welsh and English. After World War Two, the monument was modified by a plaque to commemorate that war's Welsh victims in the armed services.

In some ways, this pleasing yet solemn structure reminds me of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC. I think part of the overall effect of the appearance of this structure in Downtown Cardiff is influenced by the light reflecting on the white stone. Other buildings — some civic — around Cathays Park are also in white stone, making the monument blend pleasingly into its wider architectural surroundings.


(1) Sir Ninian Comper was mainly known for his ecclesiastical furnishings, in which he specialized in a prolific manner, often working in Gothic style. The Welsh National War Memorial is less overtly religious in character than most of his work. Sir Ninian travelled extensively in North Africa, where he studied Roman remains, some designs of which influenced his work.

Also worth seeing

In Cardiff itself, a few of the many visitor attractions include: nearby Cardiff University's Main Building, the City Hall, Cardiff Castle, Llandaff Cathedral, Llandaff.

Castell Coch , Tongwynlais (distance: 7.7 kilometres) is a hillside castle in Medieval style, refurbished in the 19th century.


How to get there: Continental Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport , from where car rental is available. London Heathrow is approximately 222 kilometres from Cardiff . There are fast railroad links between London and Cardiff. Some facilities mentioned may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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