The capital of Wales, Cardiff, was used by colliery owners in the 19th century as an outlet to the Bristol Channel to transport goods by sea. Cardiff Docks exported iron and coal from the valleys of South Wales and the town rapidly became an important centre for trade and is still one of the finest maritime cities in Europe. Residents praise its quality of life and it has large areas of parks and gardens.
One of the fastest growing airports in the UK, Cardiff serves over 2 million passengers annually. Flights from Cardiff go to various world destinations such as Cork, Dublin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Jersey, Malaga, Warsaw and Tenerife. The airport is approximately fifteen kilometres to the southwest of the city centre and there are good train and bus connections. Cardiff is easily accessible by road from everywhere in Britain as the M4 motorway runs right through the centre of the city.
Many of Cardiff's buildings are made of Portland stone - The National Museum and City Hall to name but two. Edwardian Arcades are at the heart of the city's shopping centre together with a Victorian undercover market. Combined with modern shopping centres, these fine buildings help to make Cardiff a great retail centre.
The jewel in Cardiff's crown is its castle which stands impressive and proud in the centre of the city. The Welsh Regiment Museum lies within its walls as does the Queens Dragoon Guards Museum. Nearby is the iconic Millennium Stadium, home to rugby and also football.
Substantial development has taken place in and around Cardiff Bay and a freshwater lake has been created which provides a stunning setting for various new developments. Here you will find the Millennium Centre, the home of the Welsh National Opera, as well as the Welsh Assembly Government building. There is also a science museum, the Norwegian Church which is an art gallery and café and the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum. Boat trips can be taken from Mermaid Quay with informative commentaries on the wildlife and history of the area. A new taxi service has been introduced called Cardiff Waterbus which operates from The Bay to Penarth, on the other side of the water, as well as to the city centre.
Nearby attractions include the Museum of Welsh Life which is a reproduction of a living village with buildings representing the different ages of Welsh building styles. Castell Coch (the Red Castle) is a fairytale castle amidst the hills just to the north of Cardiff. The Rhondda Heritage Park depicts the underground life of miners in the coal mines of the valleys.
Cardiff hosts an annual street festival called Music in the Bay which lasts for a month in summer. The Cardiff Singer of the World contest is held annually in St David's Hall too.
Cardiff, as you would expect, offers everything in the way of food from low-cost establishments to cordon bleu restaurants. You can choose from French, Portuguese, Chinese, Asian, Italian or Greek. If you want to try something truly Welsh, why not sample cawl which is a delicious lamb-based stew or perhaps you are brave enough to try laver bread which is seaweed and is definitely an acquired taste.
When it comes to drinking, there are traditional city pubs and wine bars. The Welsh brewer, Brains, have their headquarters in Cardiff. The city has a university and there is a thriving club scene. Students particularly like the Chapter Arts Centre with its live music and cinemas. St David's Hall, in the centre of town, is a major venue for rock concerts as well as classical entertainment.
The Welsh National Opera perform at the New Theatre and alternative theatre can be found at the Sherman. Concerts and exhibitions are hosted at the Cardiff International Arena.
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