Experience Cardiff's Extraordinary Castle
As the vibrant capital city of Wales, and steeped in history and culture, you will not be short of things to do in Cardiff. Located on the southern coast in the county of Glamorgan, the city receives nearly 20-million visitors every year and Cardiff Castle is at the top of every visitor's list.
Located on the southern coast in the county of Glamorgan, the city receives nearly 20-million visitors every year and Cardiff Castle is at the top of every visitor’s list.
Cardiff Castle, or rather Cardiff castles, as there are really two distinct and very different castles, are located right in the city centre and a short walk from the city’s public transport hubs. A 10-acre Roman fort existed at this strategic site since the 1st century and you can see the reconstructed remains of one of these ancient walls. Norman invaders constructed a motte and bailey castle on the same site in the 11th century, and it is the impressive remains of this castle set at the top of a steep rise which majestically dominates the landscape. The 12-sided keep is in good condition and you can imagine all the events that these massive walls have witnessed. Visitors can even enjoy exploring the keep and the recently opened tunnels where many people took refuge during the bombings of the Second World War. These war-time shelters have been reconstructed and are now one of the most visited parts of the castle.
If you’re looking to learn more about the history of the castle, the Interpretation Centre holds a wealth of information, while a visit to the Firing Line will inform you about the history of a Welsh soldier. Cardiff Castle also has a smartphone app which provides a personal guided tour using their free WIFI service.
Cardiff Castle has been changed and modified by its different occupants over the centuries and one dramatic transformation of the castle lodgings came about in 1866 when the 3rd Marquess of Bute employed the services of the brilliant architect William Burges. Together they designed and created an opulent Victorian Gothic revival mansion where each room has a different theme. The decoration includes lavish amounts of ornate gilding and intricate murals, ornate wood carvings and fabulously rich stained glass windows. The castle’s breath-taking mixture of colours and textures contain influences from Arabia, Italy, the Mediterranean and further into a wonderful imaginary world. Climb the 101 step spiral staircase within the spectacular Clock Tower to the opulent summer smoking room, it really has to be seen to be believed, and must be included on any Cardiff sightseeing tour.
The 150-acres of Bute Park were transformed by the famous landscape artist Capability Brown and the animal wall which runs around the castle must not be missed. Fifteen detailed stone carvings of uncommon animals, such as bears and hyenas, appear to be climbing over the high stone wall and escaping from the grounds. Originally there were just nine animals, and these carvings can be recognised by their glass eyes, but when the wall was moved to make way for road expansion six more animals were added.
The castle and grounds make the perfect setting for many fun things to do in Cardiff. Throughout the year Welsh banquets are held with traditional foods, wine and music. Other Cardiff Castle events include jousting spectacles, medieval melees, historical lectures and exhibitions with birds of prey along with other themed events.
The city has six Edwardian and Victorian arcades and the Castle Arcade in Cardiff was built in 1887 and features a second-floor wooden overhang, foot bridges and a beautiful gallery. During your visit to Cardiff be sure to visit the National Museum of Wales which houses a fascinating collection of exhibits. Relax in the many waterside cafes, and take a spin in a water taxi. Visit the impressive Millennium stadium or discover the Welsh Assembly. To experience the best of the Welsh capital, the Future Inn Cardiff hotel is centrally located and is provides great accommodation for business or leisure guests.