Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cardiff
In 1956 the modern city of Cardiff/Caerdydd became the first ever official capital of Wales (Cymru). It lies on the wide estuary of the Severn and is traversed by two much smaller rivers, the Taff and the Rhymmey. An important port, it has been a university town since 1893 and is the cultural as well as the economic center of Wales. Cardiff makes an excellent base from which to explore the many interesting places in South Wales.
Cardiff offers a wide range of entertainments and sports facilities of all kinds, including a golf course and a riding center.
The Romans were responsible for the opening chapter of Cardiff's history, establishing a fort here in the first century A.D. It was in the ruins of this old fort that, in 1090, the Norman baron Robert Fitzhamon erected the first castle. The settlement around the castle quickly grew into a borough, being granted its charter in 1147.
Cardiff's period of greatest prosperity began at the turn of the 19th century when, in 1794, the first Marquis of Bute built the Glamorganshire Canal to the nearby Myrthyr Tydfil coal field (the canal has since been filled in). In 1839 the second Marquis expanded the harbor, constructing huge docks for shipping the Welsh coal. Soon "King Coal" was also being brought from the Valleys by rail, and the port of Cardiff became the biggest exporter of coal and iron in the world. In 1801 only about 1,000 people were living in the city; by 1901 the number had risen to more than 160,000.
Today coal is imported rather than exported. Allied Steel and Wire, the city's biggest steel manufacturer, remains one of its major employers, but new growth industries, mainly in the service sector, have for the most part replaced coal and steel.
The airport is situated some 12mi/19km southwest of the city center, with transfers being made by bus. There are good rail connections from the Central Station to London and Birmingham via Bristol.