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Places Of Interest in Cardiff

Places of Interest in Cardiff It maybe Europe’s youngest capital city but Cardiff manages to keep up with older, more experienced capitals when it comes to places of interest. The city offers a wealth of exciting historical and modern attractions that you should not leave Wales without seeing.

Among the main attractions that keep visitors coming back year after year are the numerous castles within the city and in nearby towns.

Cardiff Castle [map] is perhaps the most famous because within its walls you can learn the entire history of this city, from its humble beginnings as a Roman fort some 2000 years ago. Here Roman ruins and a Norman keep sit next to the newer Tudor and 19th century towers, which have made this castle one of the best displays of architecture in Wales.

Located four miles north of the castle you’ll find Castell Coch [map], which is affectionately referred to as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in recognition of its fairytale appearance. Built on the foundation of the original 13th century castle, it was designed in the 1870s by architect William Burges on behalf of the marquess of Bute, who also owned Cardiff Castle.

Famous for its leaning tower, Caerphilly Castle [map] is located seven miles north of Cardiff, and is the largest castle in Britain and the second largest in Europe. This castle, which dates back to the 13th century, has an exhibition of medieval war and siege engines, as well as a Great Hall and huge gatehouse to see. There is also a gift shop and several teashops.

After you’ve been back in time through your visit to the castles you can still learn a lot more about Cardiff's – and Wales’ – history at one of the many museums in the city.

The National Museum of Wales [map] is a good place to start as it houses one of the finest collections in Britain and uncovers much of Wales’ varied history. Here you’ll also find a spectacular national art gallery that is packed to bursting with Impressionist art, sculptures and 18th and 19th century works.

Another museum well worth the visit, if you don’t mind venturing outside the city centre, is the Museum of Welsh Life [map], which is set on an open-air site incorporating a small castle and the site of a civil war battle. Buildings have been moved from all over Wales and carefully rebuilt here, including a medieval chapel, a row of miners' cottages and a wartime shopping centre.

When it comes to religious architecture, Cardiff will leave you mesmerised with the wonderful Llandaff and St David’s cathedrals.

The small but impressive Llandaff Cathedral [map] dates back to Norman times, although it is the colourful windows made in the 19th century that are most striking. Among the artwork on display here is the well known aluminium ‘Christ in Majesty’ sculpture designed by Epstein in the 1960s.

Cardiff's other cathedral, St David's, was built as a Catholic church in 1887 but became a cathedral and seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff in 1916. Its stone towers rise above the shops and offices of the area while inside the organ, built by Father Henry Willis, who also built the organs at the Royal Albert Hall and St Paul's Cathedral, takes pride of place.

Other architectural wonders include the Pier Head Building, which was built in 1896 for the Cardiff Railway Company, the neo-classical City Hall, with its dome and clock tower, and many Edwardian and Victorian arcades, which are now home to independent shops.

If you’re a water lover then why not pay a visit to the newly redeveloped Cardiff Bay with its shops, restaurants, bars, walkways and beautiful gardens. These days you can also visit the Cardiff Bay Barrage, a vast mud flat between the Ely and Taff estuaries that has been transformed into a stunning freshwater lake.

For an alterative water experience you could simply take a walk by the River Taff, which has a five-mile route right through the city centre, taking in the castle and Llandaff Cathedral.

Those who are not afraid of things that go bump in the night may enjoy the Creepy Cardiff Ghost Tour, which uncovers the city’s haunted buildings and most ghoulish stories. Running every Friday night the one-hour tour begins at the National Museum and Gallery [map] at Cathays Park. There are also other guided tours of Cardiff, which take in the best attractions around, including the Butetown Tour for those interested in the history and development of Cardiff Bay.

If you prefer to look to the future instead of into the past, maybe you should take in the Millennium Stadium Tour [map], where you can see behind the scenes of Wales’ sporting crown jewel. Recognised as the best rugby stadium in the world when it was built, the Millennium Stadium has already hosted a number of world-class events, and now you too can experience the drama before a big game by sitting in the Royal Box and even lift a trophy.

If all this talk of sightseeing has worn you out maybe you should head to the glorious Cathays Park on the north side of the city centre, where you can sit down and relax while marvelling at the many statues and impressive Edwardian buildings.

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