and Valleys of Southern Wales
located on the banks of the River Taff, is the capital
and largest city (320,000+ inhabitants) of Wales. It's
a busy commercial, maritime and university city.
interior of Cardiff Castle
Victorian times it was the biggest coal-exporting city
in the world. Cardiff's most famous citizen was the wealthy
second Marquess of Bute, who, in 1839, built Cardiff's
docks to export the coal mined from his father's valley
amassed a fortune, which the third Marquess took advantage
of to build the eye-stunning Cardiff
Castle on medieval foundations within a Norman wall.
He enlisted William Burges as his architect and built
the castle with every conceivable decoration possible
in its interior.
Norman keep at Cardiff Castle
castle is located in the city centre within the site used
by both the Romans and the Normans for defensive purposes.
The 12-sided Norman keep still sits on top of a small
hill today, providing views over Cardiff.
Civic Centre, enriched with white Portland stone buildings,
is northeast of the castle. Cathays Park, part of the
Centre, has gardens, trees and green spaces. The City
Hall (look for the dragon on the domed rooftop), Law Courts
and Welsh National War Memorial are in the park, but it's
Museum and Gallery that is of most interest to visit.
It tells the story of the evolution of Wales from the
land's beginning and houses a large collection of 18th
century porcelain. There are art galleries of European
work, including Impressionist paintings and sculpture.
Natural history and archaeological exhibits are part of
the museum displays.
dancers at the Museum of Welsh Life
of Welsh Life, 4 miles from the city centre at St
Fagans, is a 100-acre (40.5ha) open air museum of reconstructed
buildings gathered from all over Wales. They vary from
St Fagan's Castle, a late 16th century manor house, to
an original pigsty. An indoor museum on the site houses
farming implements, costumes and artifacts of daily living
from the middle ages to today. There's a library and photo
cottage in Merthyr Mawr
Glamorgan Heritage Coast is a 14 mile (22.5km) stretch
of protected coast running from Aberthaw to Porthcawl.
The area is characterized by the Merthyr Mawr dune lands
(some of the largest in Europe), sandy beaches and high
cliffs. Merthyr Mawr is said to have the prettiest thatched
cottages in all of Wales.
is a traditional seaside resort with sandy beaches and
a Victorian/Edwardian street with a promenade. Barry Island
(not really an island but a peninsula) is another popular
seaside holiday spot for families with its large amusement
park. The Heritage Coast Visitor Centre is located at
crosses in St. Illtud's church
Major, an attractive town with medieval streets, is home
to the cathedral-like church of St Illtud. It's really
two churches linked with a tower. The 13th century part
has a wall painting of St Christopher, and the 15th century
part is a reconstruction of Norman origin. It contains
a number of effigies and early Christian stones and crosses.
Valleys of South Wales consist of the mountainous landscape
to the north of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea. The area's
once beautiful green hills are scarred with its industrial
past when they yielded millions of tons of coal and iron
during Victorian times. Former miners' cottages terrace
the hillsides, and old industrial sites are now museums
and heritage parks. Rhondda
Heritage Park at Trehafod and Big
Pit at Blaenafon (located at the head of the Afon
Llwyd Valley) are two to visit. The Rhondda lets visitors
experience the life and times of miners over the past
150 years. It's part of the Rhondda Heritage Trail that
leads to over 20 sites of industrial, cultural and scenic
Valley area is home to an impressive 13th century castle,
in the village of the same name. It boasts massive remains
and is justly famous for its leaning tower. Surrounded
by a moat and lakes, the concentric castle was built as
a threat to the Welsh. It contains both an inner and outer
Fawr Manor is a living history museum. On stepping
through the door, "17th century" guides will greet
you and tell you all about the life of the times.
links to places mentioned in this section:
more in depth information about Cardiff and area:
Wales Attractions Map
All photos except Caerphilly Castle and the keep at Cardiff
Castle are courtesy of the Wales Tourist Board. Caerphilly
Castle and Cardiff Castle keep photos are © 2000