Last week I headed down to South Wales for a mini break. It was a chance to meet up with some friends and family, head back to Cardiff – one of my favourite cities on the planet – and have a much needed break away from the craziness of work.
Although I’ve been to Cardiff countless times, I’ve rarely headed to any of the ‘touristy’ spots and attractions, we’ve normally popped into the city for dinner, a bit of shopping and a rugby game (of course). So on this visit, I figured I’d make the most of our time in the Welsh capital by heading to some of it’s most well known and loved attractions!
CARDIFF CASTLE – A HISTORY
Cardiff Castle is one of the most popular attractions in all of Wales, with a rich heritage and international significance spanning almost 2,000 years. Lying in the very heart of Cardiff, the site is surrounded by stunning parklands and impressive architecture.
The very first fortress at Cardiff was built in the mid 1st Century by the Romans, offering a strategic location close to the sea and the city’s ports. As time moved on, the site was rebuilt and developed after the Norman Conquest with the Castle’s first keep erected by the new Norman Lord of Gloucester – Robert Fitzhamon. Many Noble families have owned the site since then, and in 1766 the Bute family became owners of the land. Responsible for turning the city of Cardiff into one of the largest coal exporting ports in the world, the Bute family began to transform the castle and its surrounding into the site you see today! Featuring gothic towers, rich interiors, Mediterranean gardens, and Arabian decorations, the Castle really is a stunning piece of history!
With the arrival of the Second World War, Cardiff Castle opened its doors and defended the city and it’s people one last time. With air raids becoming more and more common, and the city’s vast population needing shelter and safety from the threat of bombs, air raid shelters were created deep in the Castle’s defensive walls, allowing 2000 residents to take shelter. Today, you can still journey down below the Castle’s walls and walk through the very same tunnels which undoubtedly saved countless lives.
After the death of the 4th Marquess of Bute, the family gifted the Castle and its parklands to to the city of Cardiff, initially becoming the home to the National College of Music and Drama. Fast forward to today, the castle has become one of the most popular attractions in Wales, popular with tourists and locals alike.
THINGS TO DO
You can easily spend an entire day exploring the Castle and its surrounding lands. The Castle’s public square is free to enter during opening hours, allowing you to relax on the green, enjoy a picnic and take a look in the gift shop (naturally).
Included in the price of your ticket (under 5s go free) are:
- Norman Keep
- The Mighty Trebuchet
- Castle Apartments (created for one of the world’s richest men)
- Firing Line Military Museum
- Roman Remains and Chariot Corner
- Wartime Shelters
- Battlement Walk
One of my favourite areas of the Castle was the Norman Keep. Although it’s staircases are incredibly narrow and steep, the walk up to the very top is totally worth it. From there you can see incredible views of the Castle, Cardiff City and the surrounding areas, allowing you to imagine the strategic views the Norman’s would have had in its former years.
To find out more about the Castle, including opening times and ticket prices, make sure you head over to their website.