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Things to do in Cardiff

A day out at Cardiff Castle

4 May 2022

As the most historic location in the Welsh capital, Cardiff Castle lies at the cultural heart of the city, being only a 15 minute walk away for most students living in the residential area of Cathays. The castle is an iconic site upon which numerous conquerors and landowners consolidated their stronghold in the region over history, and is now used to host royal visits, concerts, festivals and ice skating among other activities. Surrounding the early motte and bailey construction, the outer wall is usually lined with flags, whether they be Welsh or special ones in support of other causes, such as on Pride weeks or during the invasion of Ukraine. Though previously owned by successive dynastic families, the castle is now open to the public, and is a site for entertainment and leisure with a wide range of activities across the year for students to enjoy.

As a brief introduction to the castle, it began its life as a Roman fort following the Claudian invasion of Britain around 50 AD/CE. The location at the mouth of the river Taf and along the Roman road to Caerleon and what we now know as England made it an ideal settlement, being easily accessible by land and sea, from which to conduct operations into the mountains to the north. Following the Romans’ expulsion from the region, the site was re-occupied by the Normans, who built the original motte and bailey keep which was subsequently fortified with additional defences throughout the Middle Ages. Since the Victorian era, the Castle has belonged to the Bute family who continued to construct lavish structures within the site, before finally handing over the castle in its current state to the city of Cardiff in 1947. After briefly serving as the home to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the fort is now a tourist attraction, with 2000 years of history being on display, seen clearly due to the Butes’ reconstructed walls being visibly built upon Roman foundations.

 

The grounds within the exterior walls are open to the public most of the time, and it is the perfect place to have a picnic or show off one of the most interesting sites in Cardiff to your visiting friends and family. Every Christmas the castle hosts the ice skating for Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland, accompanied by a plethora of food and drinks stalls and often giant reindeer made from intertwined lights. It is also possible to purchase tickets for guided tours of the halls and towers within the Castle, predominantly those added by the Butes in the south-western corner, however you can also climb to the top of the keep and get a view over the city and Bute Park. The “Firing Line Museum of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards and the Royal Welsh” is positioned in the south-eastern corner of the site, ideal for those interested in military history and its effect on the local area. Finally, there are numerous concerts and similar functions hosted by the castle every year, and this allows students and the public alike to enjoy some of their favourite music in an awesome environment.