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You are here: Things to Do > Themed Breaks > History & Heritage Cardiff

History & Heritage Cardiff

Castell Coch

Cardiff and its region boast a huge number of historic sites. Starting in the capital and travelling through nearby counties you will come across some of the most fascinating castles and heritage sites the UK has to offer.


Cardiff Castle, located in the city centre, is one of Wales' leading tourist attractions. It contains over 2,000 years of history, from Roman times to the present day. Its Roman walls, Norman keep, medieval halls, towers and exquisite Victorian restoration never fail to delight and intrigue visitors. The 3rd Marquis of Bute transformed the Castle at the end of the 19th century into a delightful and colourful palace and it also houses a regimental museum. 

Moving north, Castell Coch rests peacefully in the woods behind the village of Tongwynlais. Locally known as a fairytale castle, its round towers and red turrets are similar of those castles along the banks of the Rhine. Originally a Norman Castle, it was rebuilt by the architect William Burges for the third Marquis of Bute during the 19th Century. They were both fond of the medieval period and the Marquis was reputedly the richest man in the world in his day.

Ten minutes drive away and situated in the town centre lies Caerphilly Castle. Castles don’t come much grander than Caerphilly, this is the second largest castle in Britain, after Windsor. It was built by Gilbert De Clare in the late 13th century and has everything: classic concentric design, high towers, moats, banqueting hall, working replicas of siege engines and even a tower that out leans Pisa.

For a full list of Castles in Cardiff and its local area, click here.

Roman History

Bearing east from Cardiff, just past Newport, is the Roman town of Caerleon (Isca). It is believed that during the Roman occupation Caerleon was one of the most important towns in Britain, one of three major fortresses. A relatively small University town on the outskirts of Newport, Caerleon has the National Roman Legion Museum, an amphitheatre which includes the most complete in Britain and the only remains of a Roman Legionary barracks on view anywhere in Europe.

Hands on history

At St Fagans: National History Museum on the edge of the city,  you can travel back in time and explore over 40 historic buildings to learn how the people of Wales have lived over the last 2000 years. Explore the stone-built medieval church, farmhouses, a working bakery, blacksmith, woollen mill and Victorian schoolroom.

At Llancaiach Fawr Manor near Caerphilly, the past and present meet in a superbly restored gentry manor house. Immerse youself in the time of the Civil Wars, as the costumed servants of the house live and work as in 1645.

For a taste of South Wales' Industrial heritage Big Pit at Blaenavon is a real coal mine and one of Britain's mining museums. For more open-air history, Rhondda Heritage Park based at the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery just north of Cardiff, offers a fascinating insight into the rich culture and character of the Rhondda Valleys.

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Cardiff - City of Opportunity

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