Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fortifying a castle


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 Fortifying a castle

If you and the family are planning to go for a holiday in Britain, it is highly recommended that you include Cardiff as part of your travel itinerary. With a population of 335,000, it is the capital city and business heart of Wales. The landmark of Cardiff is Cardiff Castle, situated in the middle of the city. This building boasts more than 2,000 years of history.

In the Welsh language, Cardiff is known as Caerdydd. It is interesting to note that the current heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, is officially known as the Prince of Wales.

I made the first visit to Cardiff in September 1988, together with my wife and two daughters. At that time, my wife Dr. Rokiah was pursuing her doctoral degree at Cardiff University. When my two daughters, Dr. Sarah and Syazana went for a holiday in London in December 2008, they visited Cardiff and the castle again. Recently, our family visited Cardiff for the third time.

The Romans arrived in Wales in 76 CE and built a 3.2ha fort on the banks of the River Taff in order to help them hold the land newly won from the fierce Silures of South Wales. 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’ work.
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, Cardiff Castle is a tourist attraction, drawing visitors all over the world. A visit there is quite delightful and educational.
The attractions in the Cardiff Castle include the Museums of The Welch Regiment and The Queen’s Dragoon Guards – a fascinating display of military history.

Visitors can join for a traditional Welsh Banquet. A café and a gift shop are also available on-site. The castle is open to visitors from 9am to 5pm.

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 complexes as well as bus, taxi and railway stations.

If you’re visiting Cardiff for the first time, then you should first visit the Cardiff Tourist Information Centre (Canolfan Croeso Caerdydd, in Welsh) to get more information about the city. It is located at The Old Library, Working Street, The Hayes. It is open seven days a week (9.30am – 4pm), except from Dec 24-26 and on Jan 1.

Moving around in Cardiff is so easy. You can take the buses or taxis; they’re reliable. Telephone numbers of taxis are easy to remember, for example – Premier Cars (555 555); Capital Cabs (777 777); and Dragon Taxis (333 333).

Before leaving Cardiff, you may want to do some quick shopping. The shopping areas are located at Queen Street, Queens Arcade, St David’s Shopping Centre, High Street Arcade and The Capitol.

If you have a few extra hours to spare, then I would suggest a visit to the Mermaid Quay, Wales Millennium Centre and the Roald Dahl Plass (or Plaza Roald Dahl) – they’re located at the Cardiff Bay.  

 The Norman Keep still stands strong in the middle of Cardiff Caste grounds

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