Cardiff City
Cardiff
South Glamorgan CF10
 
 
 
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales although it is located in the south-eastern part of the country quite close to the Welsh/English border. It is the largest city in Wales and one of the largest in Britain.
 
Although it is relatively small for a capital city it has all the amenities provided by larger metropolises – an airport, a university, cathedrals, mosques, superb arts venues, a home for its national opera company, excellent shopping, major world-class sporting facilities, and a deep freshwater harbour.
 
One of the really attractive features of Cardiff is the proximity of beautiful rural countryside so close to the city. The Welsh Valleys and empty hills of the Breconshire Beacons are within commuting distance of the capital.
 
Despite the city’s proximity to England, Welsh is the country’s official language and signs and instructions are written in Welsh with the English translation beneath. Although Welsh is a minority language, it has been spoken continuously since recorded history.
 
Politically, total independence from England was an unrealistic goal but in 1998 government was handed to the National Assembly for Wales. The modern Senedd (Parliament) building can be found in the city’s redeveloped Bay area.
 
Like many UK towns geography played an important role in Cardiff’s development. An early prehistoric settlement grew up on the banks of the River Taff and during the Roman invasion a fort was established on the site of the former Celtic settlement. Remains of the Roman fort can be seen in the front wall of Cardiff Castle.
 
Cardiff Docks
The River Taff runs through the centre of Cardiff and joins up with the River Ely to form Cardiff Bay. The Bay gave access to the River Severn estuary, the Bristol Channel and the rest of the world thus providing the small town with a port.
 
Unfortunately the bay was tidal but that didn’t stop Cardiff Docks from becoming the largest coal exporting port in the world during the early 19th century. A ready supply of coal and iron from the nearby mines in the Cynon, Rhonda and Rhymney valleys in South Wales ensured success. The building of the docks was the start of Cardiff’s development.
 
With the development came an influx of an ethnically diverse workforce, most of whom settled around the dockland area.
 
Cardiff Port
Inevitably the production from the coal mines declined and so did the fortunes of the docks. For many years the dockland area languished until a radical decision was made to remove the tidal element from the Bay by building the Cardiff Barrage. Now, three large sea locks provide 24 hour access to the sea and the controlled outflow from the rivers Taff and Ely has created a huge freshwater lake.
 
Thanks to that decision, this once busy port still has three operational docks capable of handling ships of up to 35,000 tons deadweight. The port is now an overland transit centre with transit storage sheds and special facilities for handling chilled and refrigerated cargoes.
 
Cardiff Bay Regeneration
The regeneration of Cardiff Bay to the south of the city centre has provided Cardiff with a 500-acre (2.0 km2) freshwater lake round the former dockland area. This new recreational area has a large sailing marina, water sport activities, wetland walks, bars, cafes and restaurants, and a multitude of old buildings recalling the days when the docklands were home to workers from all over the world.
 
Immigrants turned Cardiff into an exciting and interesting multicultural city. Even today the University attracts a lot of foreign students and the city is famous for its vibrant nightlife.
 
Ten percent of the city’s area is green space incorporating lovely parks as well as attractive riverside walks. The regenerated bay area has many historical buildings as well as innovative modern ones. A Twenty-first century Council decision to raise the height of new buildings has now led to some high-rise but basically the streetscape has retained its Victorian and Edwardian look.
 
What to see in Cardiff Bay
In the regenerated bay area are some notable old and new buildings well worth visiting. The Norwegian Church Arts Centre is a delightful historic wooden church famous for its associations with children’s author, Roald Dahl.
 
Close by is Cardiff’s iconic Pierhead building and the modern home of The National Assembly for Wales. The Pierhead is open to the public and houses a most interesting exhibition of Welsh history. Next door is the stunning Wales Millenium Centre, home to the performing arts and Welsh National Opera.
 
Opposite the Wales Millennium Centre and close to the Parliament building is a refurbished Victorian dockside building housing Craft in the Bay, the home of the Makers Guild in Wales. As well as the Exhibition Hall there is a craft retail shop.
 
The Techniquest is an interactive educational science and discovery centre, which also includes a science theatre and planetarium. It is housed in a former engineering workshop and is extremely popular with children of all ages.
 
Along the waterfront, Mermaid Quay comprises a mix of restaurants, bars, cafés, shops and services. The quay is a stop on the Cardiff Aquabus which offers a public transport service and tourist cruises. Boats run along the River Taff hourly during the day, carrying passengers from Cardiff city centre to Penarth via Cardiff Bay. It is an excellent way to see the city as it has stops close to important amenities such as Cardiff Central railway station and the Principality Stadium (formerly called Millennium Stadium).
 
The distinctive yellow boats of the Cardiff Waterbus company also offer tours of the Bay, calling in at The Barrage. For detailed information on accommodation, transport, and What’s On in Cardiff Bay go to  Web:  Visit Cardiff
 
Other Attractions
Other interesting buildings and attractions to visit are Llandaff Cathedral, the open-air National Museum of History at St Fagans, the National Museum and Art Gallery of Wales, The Animal Wall in Bute Park, The Firing Line regimental museum and the extraordinary Victorian apartments in Cardiff Castle, and the wonderful Victorian indoor Cardiff Central Market in Castle Quarter near the castle.
 
Shopping
Cardiff has a well deserved reputation for good shopping. Known as ‘The City of Arcades’, one of its best loved attractions is the numerous Victorian and Edwardian arcades, found in the city’s centre.
 
The main shopping streets in the city are Queen Street and St Mary Street, and the three main modern shopping arcades are St David’s Centre, Queens Arcade and the Capitol Centre.
 
Until the 18th century undercover retail shopping was unknown in Cardiff. Whatever the weather, shopping was done at outdoor market stalls but in 1858 the first indoor arcade was built. Shopping in a dry environment soon caught on and the town became a ‘city of arcades’.
 
Some of the most popular shopping arcades are the Royal Arcade built in 1858 (the oldest); Castle Arcade (1887); Duke Street Arcade (1902); High Street Arcade (1885); Morgan Arcade (1896); and Wyndham Arcade (1887).
 
Although this modern capital city is not geographically located in the centre of the country it is well situated for visiting many of Wales’ historic sites. If you are interested in Welsh culture and music there is no better place to attend an Eisteddfod or a Gathering of Druids. If sport is more to your liking it is the centre for international Rugby Union, Soccer and County cricket matches, international swimming meets and even motorsports.
 
Nearby Attractions
There are so many different places to visit around the capital. To give some idea of the variety, listed below are a few:
 
Just 12.9 miles (20.8 km) from Cardiff is a fine amphitheatre and remains of a Roman fort at Caerleon. If industrial archaeology is more to your taste, there is the Big Pit National Coal Museum at Blaenavon only 19 miles (31 km) away. See the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park from the delightful narrow gauge steam Brecon Mountain Railway near Merthyr Tydfil. It is easily accessible from the Heads of the Valleys A470 trunk road (approximately 30 minutes drive from the centre of Cardiff). This road will take you further north to the slate mines of North Wales and Llanberis Pass.
 
Closer to home at Newport why not try crossing the River Usk by the Newport Transporter Bridge. This unusual suspended ferry is one of only eight left operating in the world. Today, the bridge is widely regarded as the most recognisable symbol of the city of Newport and about 12 miles (19 km) from Cardiff.
 
For a more comprehensive list we recommend Web:   Visit Cardiff