Monday, May 11, 2015

Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff is the capital of Wales.  With a an estimated population of 347,000, but over one million in the greater metro area, it is the largest city in Wales.  It is also the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom.

Archaeological evidence shows that people were living in the area for the last 6,000 years.

Caerdydd, the Welsh word for Cardiff, was just a small town until it became a major port for transporting coal in the early 19th century.  King Edward VII granted Cardiff city status in 1905 and it later became the Welsh capital in 1955.

Cardiff Castle is perhaps the city's best known landmark and it's located directly in the city center.  It was built by Norman invaders in the late 11th century on top of a 3rd century Roman fort.

The Keep is set on an artificial hill that was built by the Norman invaders around 1081.  The present stone version dates back to the 1130s.

In the mid-18th century the castle was passed to the Marquesses of Bute who renovated the grounds.  It took a while as construction and renovation continuted into the 1920s.

During WWII, air raid shelters for up to 1,800 people were built in the medieval castle walls.  In 1947 the castle was given to the people of Cardiff.

The Cardiff Market is a Victorian market in the city center.  It's on the former site of the town gallows.  A farmer's market has been here since the 18th century.
Cardiff city center

Rugby in Bute Park

About 10% of the city is covered by parks and green spaces.

Millennium Stadium is home of the Wales national rugby union team.  It was built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup.  During the 2012 Summer Olympics it hosted 11 football (soccer) matches.

The city hall is located in Cathays Park.  It opened in 1906.

The park is also home to Welsh National War Memorial.  It was unveiled in 1928 to commemorate the servicemen who died in WWI.  A plague was added in 1949 to honor those who died in WWII.

The docks had been the largest coal-exporting port in the world.  However, due to a decline in demand, the docks began to decline between the two world wars.  By the 1980s the area had become derelict.  During the 1990s the area went through a huge transformation and is now Cardiff Bay.

The Senedd is the Welsh National Assembly building.  It was opened in 2006 at a cost of £69.6 million.

The Pierhead Building was built in 1897 as the Bute Dock Company headquarters.  In 2010 it re-opened as a Welsh history museum and exhibition hall.  The clock is the Welsh "Baby Big Ben".

The Norwegian Church was consecrated in 1868 to serve the city's Norwegian Lutheran community.  It closed in 1974.  Today it is the Norwegian Church Arts Centre and home to a cafe and an art gallery.

The Antarctic 100 Memorial was unveiled in 2003.  It overlooks the point from which the SS Terra Nova left Cardiff for scientific research from 1910 - 1913.

The Wales Millennium Centre is home to the national orchestra and opera, dance and theater companies.  It has a large theater, two smaller halls plus shops, bars and restaurants and the Cardiff bay Visitor Centre.  The first part opened in 2004 and the second bit opened in 2009.

The inscription above the main entrance is actually in Welsh and English.  The Welsh is Creu Gwir Fel Gwydr O Ffwrnais Awen which translates to "Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration" and the much smaller English part references a poem In These Stones Horizons Sing.

St. Fagans National History Museum is an open-air museum of more than 40 re-erected buildings from across Wales.

The museum opened in 1948 and it includes various homes and cottages, a chapel, school house, community center, and even a tannery and pigsty.

The museum is located on the grounds of St. Fagans Castle which is an Elizabethan manor house.

The house was built in 1580 on the ruins of an old Norman castle which is why the estate is called a "castle" today.  In 1946 the owner gave the residence and park to the the country as a gift.

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