Visiting Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is set in the centre of the capital city of Wales.  Once we found a place to park and made our way through the hustle and bustle of a busy city we came upon the Castle’s stone animal wall, a feature added by the 3rd Marquess of Bute.  The wall was added in protest as Cardiff City Council refused his request to build a zoo in the grounds (the city council feared that wild lions and such might escape and cause havoc).  The wall is filled with a wide variety of different animals, I’m really not sure how he would have fitted all those real live ones into the Castle grounds.  

After walking through a gatehouse into the Castle grounds you emerge onto a huge green lawn facing the Norman Keep in the distance.  We turned to the right into the visitor centre.  Beneath the visitor centre are the excavated remains of the Roman Walls.  Cardiff Castle’s history spans an astonishing almost two thousand years, if you would like to read more about Cardiff Castle’s history then please click here.  

The Visitor centre also houses a Museum of the Welsh Soldier which is definitely worth a look and very informative.  Upon leaving the Visitor Centre we walked through some of the vast tunnels below the walls which were used as air raid shelters during the Second World War which could hold upto 1800 people.  These tunnels are very damp and dark and gave me a haunting appreciation of how scary it must have been for the people who had to shelter here from bombings.  

We then walked along the outer walls taking in the views of the Norman Keep and House before heading to the Keep.  The stone Norman Keep dates back to the early 12th century but is in a ruinous condition.  The walls still stand impressively high and the keep is situated on top of a high motte and surrounded by a moat.  The Keep is circular and due to renovations by the Bute family you are able to climb some fairly steep spiral stairs to the top which is rewarded with an incredible view of Cardiff City.  

Next we headed to the Mansion.  The Mansion was greatly renovated and modernised by the Bute family.  What we say today is the Neo Gothic castle creation that the 3rd Marquess of Bute created when he enlisted the famous architect William Burges in the Victorian era.  The 3rd Marquess of Bute was immensely rich (it is even claimed he was the richest man alive in his day) and no expense was spared when he transformed the Castle Mansion.  We chose to upgrade our admission ticket for a guided tour which we found very informative and granted us access to rooms that are not available in the standard admission price.  We got to see the Smoking Room in the Clock Tower, the lavish Nursery and the Rooftop Terrace which was the highlight of the Mansion for us.

Cardiff Castle’s history spans almost two thousand years and it is fascinating that you can still see all the various different era’s, from the Roman Wall remains to the Norman Keep to the Neo Gothic Mansion.  This Castle is well worth a visit!

Watch our video on the history and exploring Cardiff Castle below

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