Although not a particularly well known large city in the UK, Cardiff is one of the prettiest, calmest and nicely laid out cities on this wet and windy peninsula. It's the largest city in Wales, and has a brilliant combination of medieval and Roman history, with wildly modern and modernist structures and entertainment venues! I want to share some of the historical sites as well as some of the modern additions that make this city such a fascinating mixture! Part two of this article looks at my favourite parks in Cardiff and will also show you the best indoor market in Cardiff.
It's definitely my favourite part of the city, but that's because I love any and every kind of historical site. Cardiff Castle has stood vigil over this southern Welsh city for more than 1000 years, since the invading Normans put it up! Even they were not the first people to think this was a good spot for a castle, as the Romans constructed the original fortifications (some of which have been incorporated into the castle wall and can still be seen if you look at the right point on the wall!)
The castle is not just a remarkable piece of history, as it also includes opportunities for people to enjoy medieval banquets in the huge central hall, as well as a fantastic Interpretation Centre which shows visitors a lot about the people who called this castle home, and plenty about the history and events that have happened over the years here. Although the layout has changed several times over the last centuries and millennium, much of the external curtain wall, as well as some of the more solid, stone buildings inside the walls have been here for much of the time. William the Conqueror erected some of the structures here, taking the history 1000 years back at least.
In second place for me (after the castle) is the Waterfront area of Cardiff. One of my complaints about cities in the UK is that they rarely have nice big open central areas for people to just be and gather. Nottingham is a good example of an exception, with a beautiful open square. Cardiff also bucks this trend, with the Waterfront/Cardiff Bay area.
There are several impressive buildings here, with the redbrick Pierhead Building where the Welsh Assembly meets for political discussion (sometimes called 'baby big ben'), and the shining bronzed Millennium Centre. 9 Separate art organisations are based in this building, and it is the centre of culture and art in this modern city. In the city centre there is also the 'Millenium Stadium' or as it is now called the Principality Stadium. Rugby is the national sport of Wales, and no visit to Cardiff would be complete without a trip to the home of the Welsh national rugby team at this stadium.
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