Walking Tour of Cardiff, Wales
The city of Cardiff, capital of Wales, has a long and storied history. It began as a Roman fort, in 75 AD. Later, it became important as a port, especially involving the export of coal. As such, the waterfront area became seedy and rundown, but, lately, the city has emerged as a model of urban renewal, and has burst onto the tourist scene. There are two areas of the city, at opposite ends, which are significant for the visitor, and my walk has incorporated both of them.
The walk begins in front of Cardiff Castle, on Castle Street, in the City Center. It is easily the most important attraction here. Explore the castle complex first. What began as a typical Norman castle, built over the ancient Roman fort, was transformed, in the 19th century, into a fairy-tale medieval palace with elaborate and fanciful rooms that are the equal of any royal chateau. Its design captures the rich 2,000-year history of the place, as well as the intricate workmanship of local craftsmen. Admire the ornate and beautiful Clock Tower; be captivated by the incredible murals in the Banqueting Hall (they even incorporate the relief of a castle, above the fireplace); be intrigued by the glorious Arab Room; and be mesmerized in the Roof Garden.
After your lengthy visit, exit onto Castle Street and turn left. This road becomes Duke Street and then turns northward. Stroll through the Friary Gardens (check out the topiary), and into the Gorsedd Gardens, whose focal point is a stone circle. Further north, you will find Cardiff’s City Hall, a beautiful Neo-classical building, complete with fountains, a dome, and a clock tower, which is the centerpiece of the town’s Civic Centre. Behind it are the Alexandra Gardens, whose landscaped paths culminate at the War Memorial.
Now leave this massive complex, by exiting to the east and walking south on Park Place, as far as Queen Street. Turn right on Queen and then left onto The Bute Street. After a trek of approximately two kilometers, turn left on James Street to get to the waterfront area. Here you will find the Norwegian Church, built for sailors from Norway bringing wood to support the coal mine tunnels, the Pierhead Building, reminiscent of Mogul architecture in India, and several museums.
Next, return to the City Centre by backtracking on The Bute Street. This time, however, as you pass through the downtown shopping area, visit one or more of these establishments to browse at their stalls and shops. My suggestions include the Cardiff Central Market, known as the Indoor Market, St David’s Hall, and the various Victorian Arcades, such as, Wyndham, Morgan, Royal, and High Street. As you near the end of The Bute Street, look for the Church of St John the Baptist, on your left. Its tower rises to 130 feet. When you reach Queen Street, turn left to return to the front of the Castle, where your walk began.