Read about the city

With large deposits of not least coal and iron, Wales has been a leader in the industrialization of Great Britain, and over time it has created an enormous wealth, which have been turned into a lot of great constructions in the capital city of Cardiff.

Industrial history is largely a thing of the past, and Cardiff has in recent decades undergone a revitalization of the old docks at Cardiff Bay. The modern waterfront area is within walking distance from the old town, and it adds a whole new dimension to the city for locals and visitors alike.

Cardiff has its share of modern architecture, and there is also something for travelers who would like to see Edwardian urban planning and construction. And Cardiff Castle is also worth a visit while walking in the city center. Here, several fine churches and the city's many Victorian shopping arcades feature some of the cozy streets.

Cardiff is the capital of Wales, which, as a country, is incredibly beautiful with many hills and mountains, a long coastline and countless quaint towns that exude the Welsh atmosphere. All of this is something that is in the immediate vicinity of Cardiff.

Other attractions

Castle Arcade, Cardiff

  • Castle Arcade: This is a shopping arcade, which opened in 1887 between Castle Street and High Street. Castle Arcade's architecture is a nice Victorian-style experience. You can also choose to stroll down Morgan Street to see Morgan Acade, another of Cardiff's old shopping arcades.
  • Millennium Stadium: This is Cardiff's Grand Stadium and Wales' National Arena. The large stadium opened in 1999 with a capacity of 74,500 spectators, who can watch rugby, football and other events from the stands.
  • Cardiff Central Station: Central Station is the city's busiest train station with traffic to both England and Wales. Cardiff's railway history began in 1840 with the South Wales Railway..

Tabernacle, Cardiff

  • Tabernacle: Tabernacle is the name of this Baptist chapel, located in the center of Cardiff. The building was originally built in 1821, but it was rebuilt in Italian style later in the 19th century.
  • St. John the Baptist Church: This church is one of the oldest buildings in Cardiff. The church offers a beautiful interior, where you can see some fine glass mosaics from the middle of the 19th century.

Central Market, Cardiff

  • Central Market: The Central Market is a Victorian-style market building. The current building was erected in 1891, but there has been a food market on the site since the 18th century.
  • Cathays Park: This is an area of beautiful buildings around Alexandra Gardens. The large buildings in the area stand as the most magnificent building project from 20th century Cardiff.
  • Cardiff University: The University of Cardiff was founded in 1883 and is housed in several buildings around Alexandra Gardens. The main building along Museum Avenue is the most impressive.

Cardiff Bay

  • Cardiff Bay: The Cardiff Bay area is a neighborhood located south of Cardiff's city center and on the freshwater lake that forms a sort of inner harbor in Cardiff Bay. As the name suggests, Cardiff Bay was a bay where the city's large docks were.
  • Pierhead Building: The Pierhead Building is a building that stands as a monument from the industrial era. It has been centrally located in Cardiff Bay since its opening in 1897, when it was the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company.

Millennium Center, Cardiff

  • Wales Millennium Center: Cardiff Millennium Center is one of Wales' absolute centers for the performing arts and is one of the city's most famous buildings. The center opened in 2004 and it houses ballet, dance, comedy, musical and opera.
  • The Senedd: The Senedd is the seat of the Welsh National Assembly. The building is characterized by its distinctive construction in glass, which was chosen as a symbol of transparency in political life.

Norwegian Church, Cardiff

  • Norwegian Church: Norwegian Church is a church located in a beautiful position at the far end of Cardiff Bay. The church was built in 1868 by the Norwegian Seamen's Church, which is part of the Norwegian National Church.
  • Castell Coch: This intriguing edifice resembles a real medieval castle, but it was built in the late 1800s, when John Crichton-Stuart had it constructed on the foundations of a former fortification.
History overview

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    Roman Cardiff
    Roman armies landed in Britain in the year 43, and through the following years they conquered land, and at the same time there were battles between the Romans and local tribes. The same was true of the people who inhabited present-day Cardiff and southern Wales.

    During the same period, the local Silures people established themselves in what later became Cardiff. From the 50s, the Roman legions captured the area from the local population, and the Roman Empire built a fort in the same location, which was strategically important when entering the Bristol Channel.

    The Roman fort was in the place where you can see Cardiff Castle today, and their presence was part of the Roman province of Britannia. The fort was used by the Romans until the late 300's, when the Roman Empire troops left Cardiff; the Romans also left Britannia not so many years later. The following centuries do not know much about Cardiff's history, other than that the city was mentioned in the Welsh annals of 445.

    The Vikings and William
    In about 850, the Vikings attack the Welsh coast, and Cardiff was once used as a base and harbor in the area. Nor is much known about the time and settlement of the Vikings, and it took a few centuries before the next significant event happened.

    In 1081, the English King William I, nicknamed the Conqueror, led an army through southern Wales. Cardiff was conquered and on the site of the ancient Roman fort the first Cardiff Castle was built around 1100.

    A town grew up around Cardiff Castle, and its population was primarily settlers from England. By 1111, the city had built city walls as a defense, and it already had a considerable size. In 1126, the city became its first mayor, and by the end of the 13th century, Cardiff was the only city in Wales to have more than 2,000 inhabitants.

    Cardiff in the 1300-1400s
    Throughout the 1300s, Cardiff had become an important port city, and the city gained certain commercial rights which further developed the city. Weekly markets were established and merchants from all over the region regularly visited Cardiff, which also hosted two annual festivals.

    However, in 1404, development stopped abruptly when Owain Glyndŵr conquered Cardiff Castle and burned most of the town's houses. Back then, the city was listed with wood as the most widely used material, so it was easy to turn it into ash.

    Owain Glyndŵr was the last native Welsh to carry the title of Prince of Wales. Glyndŵr was successful with his attack, but shortly after the destruction, however, the city was rebuilt and it gave new flourishing.

    Union with England
    England and Wales signed the Union Agreement Act of Union in 1536, and with one new administrative units were formed in the form of counties. It was on this occasion that Glamorgan County was established as one of the new Welsh gentlemen, and Cardiff became the capital of the region.

    Many administrative changes occurred with the Union Agreement. In the years following its conclusion, monasteries were demolished and a new military system was introduced following the English pattern. Cardiff and Wales were also represented in the English Parliament, the House of Commons. Cardiff also gained a new nobility; The Herbert family was at that time Cardiff's leader, and in 1551 William Herbert was made the first baron of Cardiff.

    Later in the 16th century, Cardiff obtained a royal charter in which the British monarch guaranteed certain rights to the city. That was in 1581, and eight years before that, Cardiff had been established as a major customs office.

    Development of the 1600s-1700s
    In 1608, Cardiff was granted extended rights, which stimulated the city's growth. Or were the following a relatively quiet and stable period, however, which did have some historical highlights.

    During the Second English Civil War, which took place 1648-1649, The Battle of St. Fagan's place on May 8, 1648. During the battle, Republican round heads fought against royalists and won over them. The victory led to Oliver Cromwell taking power in Wales. Cromwell was a military and statesman, and he was later a leading figure in the creation of the Commonwealth of England.

    Cardiff's development began in earnest from 1766, when John Stuart, the first marquis of Bute, married the Herbert family. The Stuart family became the city's leading family, and John Stuart, among other things, initiated a major renovation of Cardiff Castle. Other major buildings were also added, and the city got a diligence connection with London.

    At this time, Cardiff was still a smaller city by both Welsh and British standards. Through the 18th century, despite the awnings of the Butte new plant at the turn of the century, it lost population land to Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil, among others. In a census of 1801, there were 1,870 Cardiff residents, who were merely the 25th largest city in Wales.

    Booms in industry and commerce
    In the first half of the 19th century, Cardiff's flourishing really took off as John Crichton-Stuart, the second Marquis of Bute, built docks in the city's harbor area. The docks were connected by rail to the areas in the area where, among other things, coal was mined, making Cardiff a transit port for enormous values. The activities and economy attracted people from outside, and many newcomers came from England and Ireland. The growth was so great that by the end of the century Cardiff had overtaken both Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea in population, and it was now Wales' largest city.

    In the 1880s, a rival shipping port was erected in nearby Barry, and within a few decades Barry had overtaken Cardiff in unloaded coal. However, the coal exchange was in Cardiff and that was the place where Britain's coal prices were set. That relationship attracted many businesses and trade, so the coal continued to make the city rich. Gradually, ironworks had also emerged, so the city was a decidedly industrial city.

    The 1900s to the present
    King Edward VII granted Cardiff several rights in 1905, and this mattered in the way that many national institutions were placed here in the following decades. This included, for example, the National Museum and new political bodies. The generally increased local Welsh representation manifested itself in a large public expansion in the decades around 1900. A large land acquisition enabled the new facilities, which can still be seen around Alexandra Gardens.

    New institutions sprang up, but with the turn of the century, however, the industrial decline of the traditional factories and industries also came to an end, and the city's sources of income disappeared. Coal shipping dropped drastically in the interwar period, and this was due to falling demand for coal that was otherwise Wales' economic backbone.

    During World War II, bombs fell, among other things, destroying the cathedral in Llandaff, and the industry became increasingly difficult. In the middle of this time, Cardiff was appointed Welsh capital in 1955, and it provided some development in administrative institutions and bodies. One example is the British body, The Welsh Office, which was laid here in 1964; it was the precursor to the administration of the Welsh National Assembly since 1999.

    Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, much of Cardiff's heavy industry closed down, such as the steel mills that had previously contributed significantly to the city's economy. Despite the difficult situation, the population grew in the 1990s and a large and new development was initiated. Britain's then-largest stadium, Millennium Stadium, was erected and the entire sad industrial and port area at Cardiff Bay was urbanized. It created a whole new side of Cardiff that suddenly got more cultural institutions and a lovely area for nightlife enjoyed by both citizens and tourists.
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Top attractions

Cardiff Castle

  • Cardiff Castle: This is the city's beautiful old medieval castle with a history dating back to the 1000s. The tower named The Norman Keep dates from this time, but otherwise most of the castle dates from the 19th century, when John Crichton-Stuart built it in medieval style.
  • National Museum Cardiff: The National Museum of Cardiff is one of the country's major cultural institutions, and it serves as both a museum and a national gallery. Here you can e.g. see Wales' developments in areas such as archaeology, geology and the arts.

Cardiff City Hall

  • City Hall: This palace-like structure is Cardiff's landmark town hall, which opened in 1904. The building stands as one of the great public constructions of the time around Alexandra Gardens. Inside, you can e.g. see marble statues of important people in the history of the country.

Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff

  • Llandaff Cathedral: This beautiful cathedral is the area's most significant Anglican church building. The first church on the site was built in the 5th century, while the current one is the result of centuries of construction; including a reconstruction after destruction during World War II.
Trips in the area

Tintern Abbey, Wales

  • Tintern Abbey: This is a church ruin at a Cistercian monastery founded in 1131. Today, Tintern Abbey stands as a beautiful, picturesque and monumental ruin in a magnificent landscape by the Wye River.
  • Caerleon: Caerleon is a village known for its Roman history. Among the excavated ruins from Roman society you can see the legionaries' baths, barracks and a large amphitheater.
  • Big Pit National Coal Museum: The Big Pit is a former mine dedicated as a museum to the Welsh coal mining industry, which was a major contributor to Wales' economic heyday and to the area's industrial development.
  • Merthyr Tydfil: Merthyr Tydfil is a town that was one of the starting points of the Industrial Revolution in South Wales. Today, the great works are history, but something remains as monuments over time; eg the Cefn Coed railway viaduct..

Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

  • Brecon Beacons National Park: The Brecon Beacons National Park is a large and beautiful natural area. It is possible to drive here by Brecon Mountain Railway, and there are good opportunities for hiking in the large and grassy area.
  • Swansea: This is the second largest city in Wales and a number of sights can be seen here. You can visit Swansea Castle, St. Mary's Church and the interesting museum, the National Waterfront Museum.
  • Bristol: Bristol has been one of England's economically and culturally leading cities for the past many centuries, and it has brought prosperity and the opportunity to build a number of interesting buildings that today make up the city's sights along with fine museums.
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