Bute Park, Cardiff © Athena's Pix
Although occupied since the Middle Ages, Cardiff
really came into its own during the Industrial Revolution as an
important dock town used for the distribution of iron and coal in
Wales. Since becoming the Welsh capital in 1955, and subsequently
the seat of the Welsh National Assembly, Cardiff has undergone a
massive transformation from a forgotten industrial port to a
vibrant, modern, and cosmopolitan capital city.
Nowhere is the growth and development of the city
more evident than in the Cardiff Bay area, a massive new commercial
development and urban regeneration project. The trendy waterfront
district known as Mermaid's Quay is home to striking modern
architecture and modern art, as well as chic shops and boutiques,
top-class restaurants, and plenty of clubs and bars. The Quay also
provides a great launch site for numerous cruises and boat tours,
ranging from serene paddleboats to thrilling speed boat rides.
These modern amenities lie alongside some impressive
historical sites, including the Cardiff Castle, which was built by
the wealthy third Marquis of Bute. The castle is located in the
centre of Cardiff on a site used by both the Romans and the Normans
as a strategic point of defence. Visitors can still explore the
Norman Keep, set on top of a small hill overlooking the city.
Other popular attractions in Cardiff include the
National Museum and Gallery, St David's Hall, Llandaff Cathedral,
the outdoor St Fagan's National History Museum, and the Millennium
Stadium. There are also many historical attractions and points of
interest just outside the city - including several Neolithic sites
- and the area is resplendent with natural beauty.
This fast-growing urban centre is still relatively
undiscovered as a tourist destination, but more and more travellers
are venturing to the exciting Welsh capital.
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