IF you’re visiting Cardiff (population approximately 335,000 people), capital city and business heart of Wales, you must visit the Cardiff Castle. It is situated right in the middle of the city and this building boasts more than 2,000 years of history.
The writer in Cardiff with Cardiff Castle in the background
The people of Wales do have their own language, called Welsh. Thus, Cardiff is also known as Caerdydd. It is interesting to note that the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, is officially known as the Prince of Wales.
My first visit to Cardiff was made in September 1988, together with my family. At that time, my wife Dr. Rokiah was pursuing her doctoral degree at Cardiff University.
Sarah and Syazana (in front) inside the Cardiff Castle in July 1989
When my two daughters, Sarah and Syazana were on holiday in London in December 2008, they went to visit the castle again. Our family’s last visit to Cardiff was made in July, 2009.
Dr Rokiah in front of No. 4, Llandough Street, Cathays, Cardiff
The No. 4, Llandough Street house (on the right)
Historically, the castle was first built as a Roman fort. They arrived in Wales in 76 A.D., built an eight-acre (3.2ha) stronghold on the banks of the River Taff in order to help them hold the land newly won from the fierce Silures of South Wales.
The Romans rebuilt the fort about two centuries later, adding the 100-foot (3m) walls around it. Parts of these walls still stand today.
After the Romans, the Normans arrived in Cardiff centuries later and built their castle on the site of the old Roman fort and incorporated what remained the work of their predecessors.
The Norman Keep still dominates the castle grounds. As attacks by the Welsh tested the castle, it was strengthened and improved over several years. Days of strife returned during the English Civil War when Cardiff Castle was held first by the Royalists and later by the Parliamentarians.
Years of decay followed, but in the last century, the third Marquis of Bute appointed a Victorian architect William Burges, to restore the castle.
The colourful and lavish interiors created by Burges continually surprise and delight visitors who enter a grim castle which had otherwise seen only battles, to find themselves surrounded by exquisite wood carvings and sculptures, and murals that tell of the castle’s long history.
Today, the Cardiff Castle is a tourist attraction drawing visitors all over the world. It is a delightful and educational visit.
The attractions include the Museums of The Welch Regiment and The Queen’s Dragoon Guards – a fascinating display of military history.
For a colourful and entertaining evening, visitors can join for a traditional Welsh Banquet. Café and gift shop are also available on site. The castle is open to visitors at 9:00 a.m. and it closes at 5:00 p.m.
The castle was handed over to the City of Cardiff (declared as a city by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956) by the Bute family in 1948. It is close to the parks, hotels and shopping complex as well as bus, taxi and railway stations.
If you’re in Cardiff for the first time, then you should visit the Cardiff Tourist Information Centre in order for you to get more information about the city. The Centre is located at The Old Library, Working Street, The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1AH. It is open 7 days a week (09:30 – 16:00), except on 24th, 25th, 26th of December and 1st January.
Map of Cardiff with Cardiff Castle situated in the middle of the city
The night scene at Cardiff Central railway station
Moving around in Cardiff is so easy. You can take the reliable buses or taxis. Telephone numbers of taxis are easy to remember, for example – Premier Cars (555 555); Capital Cabs (777 777); and Dragon Taxis (333 333).
For accommodation, there are many hotels you can choose from: Cardiff Central Travelodge, Cardiff Hilton, Park Plaza, Holiday Inn, Angel, Royal, Sandringham, Marriott, Park Inn, Big Sleep, Radisson and Ibis.
Before you leave Cardiff, you may want to do some shopping. The shopping areas are located at Queen Street, Queens Arcade, St David’s Shopping Centre, High Street Arcade and The Capitol.
The Queens Arcade shopping area at the High Street, Cardiff
Thus, if you plan to spend your holiday in Cardiff, then visiting the Cardiff Castle must be included in your travel itinerary. Should you have a few extra hours to spare, then I would suggest that you also visit the Mermaid Quay, Wales Millennium Centre and the Roald Dahl Plass (or Plaza Roald Dahl) – they’re located at the Cardiff Bay.
The writer and his wife at the Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay
The unique design of the Plaza Roald Dahl
When it comes to language, the people of Wales are proud of their own Welsh language, thus many signages in public places are written in both English and Welsh.
Signages in both languages - English and Welsh are used in Wales