Cardiff is the capital of Wales and is the largest city in this small country, which is part of the United Kingdom. For most of its history it was a small town although this was to change with the advent of the industrial revolution. Cardiff became a major port for coal and this led to its rapid growth. It was made a city in 1905 and became the capital of Wales in 1955. Throughout its history and all the changes the city has seen however, Cardiff Castle has been one of the focal points of the town and its location has been the site of a fortress for over 2000 years.
As one of the top attractions in Wales, Cardiff Castle has been attracting tourists for many years. The history of the site on which the castle stands can be traced back almost 2000 years to when a Roman fort was established around 50AD. Archaeological excavations of the site have shown this was probably one of four forts which were constructed during the Roman occupation. Some remains of these can still be seen on a visit to the castle. Following the Norman conquests which began in 1066, construction on the site was continued and there were a number of fortifications built including the Norman Keep. There have been many owners of the castle but some of the most famous of these were from the family of the Marquess of Bute. This family was largely responsible for the construction work that turned the castle into the attraction it is today. However following the death of the 4th Marquess the family donated the castle and much of its land to the city of Cardiff and it has since become one of the top attractions in Wales.
The castle is located in the centre of the city and is open to visitors year round with the times of opening being 9.00am to 6.00pm during the months of March to October and 9.00am to 5.00pm from November to February. Last entry is generally 1 hour before the closing time. Admission fees are pounds sterling 10.50 (approx $17) for adults and pounds sterling 7.95 (approx $13) for children 5 to 16 years old. The visit includes an exhibition and film show, an audio guide of a number of the features in the Castle Grounds, entry to some of the castle apartments and access to the museum of the Welsh Soldier. There is also a premium ticket which costs a little bit extra which gains access to a few more of the castle apartments.
On a visit to the castle there are many excellent sights to see and some of these include the following.
This was opened in 2008 and is a good way to start a tour of the castle and get a feel for the 2000 years of history contained within its walls. There is an exhibition with details of some of this history and also a short film to view.
Recent excavations have revealed some of the walls which were constructed as part of the Roman forts which stood on the site of the castle. These are some of the oldest building works on view at the castle and show early Roman construction.
The Norman Keep was constructed around 1091 and stands on a high mound known as a motte in the castles grounds. The shell of the Keep still remains to this day and is a spectacular sight to see and explore.
The Clock Tower
This was one of the first towers which were constructed during the time the Bute family lived in the castle during the 1800’s and 1900’s. Construction of the Clock Tower started in the late 1860’s and is a beautiful example of a Gothic revival style. It was designed by William Burgess who was one of the pre-eminent designers of the time. Other towers which were constructed include the Tank Tower, the Guest Tower, the Beauchamp Tower and the Herbert Tower which together create a stunning skyline in the castle and are one of the best sights.
William Burgess also designed the interiors of much of the castle and there are a host of luxurious apartments fitted out in a Gothic revival style, some of which can be viewed during a tour of the castle. These include, amongst others, the Roof Garden, Lord Bute’s Bedroom, the Summer Smoking Room and the Chaucer Room. These are all lavishly furnished and are a fantastic sight.
This museum details some of the history of the Welsh soldier during the last few hundred years. It has exhibitions and living history events which detail the life of a Welsh soldier from the creation of some of the well know regiments almost 300 years ago all the way through to the present day.
Cardiff is a beautiful city to visit and has many attractions to offer both its residents and tourists. One of the best of these is Cardiff Castle and a visit to this is recommended if you are ever in the city. With fortifications being built on the site for almost 2000 years, it is a great place to go and view some of the history of Cardiff and Wales.
If you are planning a visit to the castle further details can be found at http://www.cardiffcastle.com