Tuesday, 13 March 2012



Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. Cardiff is a significant tourism centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked 6th in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations.

The city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan (and later South Glamorgan). Cardiff is part of the Eurocities network of the largest European cities. The Cardiff Urban Area covers a slightly larger area outside of the county boundary, and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth. A small town until the early 19th century, its prominence as a major port for the transport of coal following the arrival of industry in the region contributed to its rise as a major city.

Situated on the narrowest part of the south Wales coastal plain, Cardiff had a crucial strategic importance in the wars between the Normans (who had occupied lowland Wales) and the Welsh who maintained their hold on the uplands. As a result Cardiff claims to have the largest concentration of castles of any city in the world. In addition to Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch (Red Castle) is located in Tongwynlais, in the north of the city. The current castle is an elaborately decorated Victorian folly designed by William Burges for the Marquess and built in the 1870s, as an occasional retreat. However, the Victorian castle stands on the footings of a much older medieval castle possibly built by Ifor Bach, a regional baron with links to Cardiff Castle also. The exterior has become a popular location for film and television productions. It rarely fulfilled its intended role as a retreat for the Butes, who seldom stayed there. For the Marquess, the pleasure had been in its creation, a pleasure lost following Burges's death in 1881. The remains of Twmpath Castle, the Llandaff Bishop's Palace and Saint Fagans Castle are still in existence, whilst the site of Treoda (or Whitchurch Castle) has now been built over.

Other major tourist attractions are the Cardiff Bay regeneration sites which include the recently opened Wales Millennium Centre and the Senedd, and many other cultural and sites of interest including the Cardiff Bay Barrage and the famous Coal Exchange. The New Theatre was founded in 1906 and completely refurbished in the 1980s. Until the opening of the Wales Millennium Centre in 2004, it was the premier venue in Wales for touring theatre and dance companies. Other venues which are popular for concerts and sporting events include Motorpoint Arena, St David's Hall and the Millennium Stadium. Cardiff Story, a museum documenting the city's history, is to open in Spring 2011.

Cardiff is a capital for shopping, and with a combination of designer brands, high street names as well as more individual and independent shops, there's something for everyone.
Recently named the 6th best shopping destination in the UK, Cardiff has the whole spectrum of shopping, with charming Edwardian and Victorian arcades and ultra-modern shopping centres. And when you've had your fill of retail therapy, there are plenty of cafés, restaurants and bars to stop and relax in.

Llandaff Cathedral Green

Cardiff has over 1,000 listed buildings, ranging from the more prominent buildings such as the castles, to smaller buildings, houses and structures. Cardiff has walks of special interest for tourists and ramblers alike, such as the Centenary Walk, which runs for 2.3 miles (3.7 km) within Cardiff city centre. This route passes through many of Cardiff's landmarks and historic buildings.

Cardiff’s Top 5:
  1. Cardiff Castle.  is a medieval castle and Victorian architecture Gothic revival mansion, transformed from a Norman keep erected over a Roman fort in the Castle Quarter of Cardiff. The Castle is a Grade I Listed Building.  There may have been at least two previous Roman forts on the site. The first was probably built about AD 55 during the conquest of the Silures tribe. From the late 2nd to the mid-3rd century, civilian buildings associated with iron working occupied the site.  In the 18th century the castle became the property of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute,  In the early 19th century the original Norman Castle had been enlarged and refashioned in an early Gothic Revival style . Bute despised the result and his interest in medieval Gothic Revivalism, combined with his almost limitless financial resources, led to Burges re-building on the grandest scale. Almost the entire of Burges's usual team were involved, including Chapple, Frame and Lonsdale. But it was Burges's imagination, his scholarship, his architectural and decorative talents, his inventiveness and his sheer high spirits that combined to make Cardiff Castle the "most successful of all the fantasy castles of the nineteenth century.
  2. St Fagans National History Museum. commonly referred to as St Fagans after the village where it is located, is an open-air museum chronicling the historical lifestyle, culture and architecture of the Welsh people. The museum is part of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales. It comprises over thirty re-erected buildings from various locations in Wales, and is set in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, an Elizabethan manor house. In 2011 Which? magazine named the museum the United Kingdom's favourite visitor attraction
  3. Llandaff Cathedral The Cathedral Church of SS Peter & Paul, Dyfrig, Teilo and Euddogwy is the mother church of the Diocese of Llandaff and stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain. The Cathedral lies in the ancient "City of Llandaff" much of which is now a conservation area. Despite being surrounded on all sides by the bustling modern city of Cardiff, the Llandaff conservation area remains comparatively unspoilt and surprisingly tranquil. The present cathedral dates from 1107 when Bishop Urban, the first Bishop appointed by the Normans, instigated the building of a much larger church. The arch behind the High Altar was built at that time. The Cathedral was extended and widened and a new West front built about 1220. This West front is judged by many to be one of the two or three most notable mediaeval works of art in Wales.
  4. Norwegian Church Arts Centre. Formerly a Church for Norwegian Sailors,  where children's author Roald Dahl was christened, this is a landmark building on the Cardiff Bay waterfront and a renowned cultural venue. The unique venue hosts a variety of events, from live music to workshops, functions and classes. The Dahl Gallery also displays a range of art and photography exhibitions. The stylish café bar offers food all day, with the outside terrace overlooking the tranquil waters of the Bay.
  5. The Welsh National War Memorial is situated in Alexandra Gardens, Cathays Park. The memorial was designed by Sir Ninian Comper and unveiled in June 1928 by the Prince of Wales. The memorial commemorates the servicemen who died during the First World War and has a plaque for those who died during the Second World War, added in 1949. The memorial takes the form of a circular colonnade surrounding a sunken court. On the frieze above the columns are inscriptions in Welsh, on the outer side, and in English, on the inner side (see inset). The English inscription was composed by Comper himself. At the centre of the court is a group of bronze sculptures by Alfred Bertram Pegram, arranged around a stone pylon. Around the base stand three figures, a soldier, sailor and airman, holding wreaths aloft. There are appropriate inscriptions above the figures e.g. 'Over the sea he went to die', above the sailor. Above them, crowning the structure, is a winged male nude representing Victory.

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