Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Cardiff, Wales

One of the most common places I visited on the train from visits to Bristol was the capital of Wales, Cardiff. It is another place that has seen a lot of renovation and building work .... and not just in recent times !! ....

A welcome of  flowers, banners and reconstruction work
... as I noted on this occasion when leaving the railway station. The visitor is greeted by a thoroughfare of a busy bus station and a variety of associated small shops. While the main part of the city starts to the far right hand side of the bus station, attention is always drawn to the massive structure dominating the skyline to the left....

Hopes of sporting glory ....  floating away down the river !
One of the big passions of Wales that is noticed in souvenir shops is the love of the game of Rugby. The Cardiff Millenium Stadium was designed, built and opened in 1999 as the new and improved home of Welsh Rugby.

Pinnacle of achievement 
With a capacity of over 73,000 and it's proximity to the railway station, it is an ideal location to additionally host major concerts and other sporting events. It is the second largest stadium in the world with a retractable roof.

Offside ?!
The Stadium was also used for several years to host 6 English FA cup finals while the new Wembley stadium was being built.

Retracing my steps to the opposite corner of the bus station and the start of the shopping area, it was time to see a little of what Cardiff had to offer. The first street that I came to was the most interesting as it plays host to several Victorian shopping Arcades. I seemed to build up a relationship with a few shops in this area and one of the eight arcades I visited a lot was the 1887 Castle Arcade.

Keeping away from the High street chain stores
The second hand bookstore Troutmark was on my itinerary every time and always successfully contributed to my baggage weight on the plane home !! The structures however of these arcades were magnificent...

Reflections -Mirrors and Glass
Other than the Victorian Arcades in this area, I discovered on the opposite side of the street a less ornate structure in the shape of Cardiff market...

The wood that was left over ?!
.... where the locals seemed to shop for meat, vegetables and other necessities that you would find less expensive in a market. However my interest was upstairs in "Kelly's records, a second hand CD music shop with DVDs next door .....

"Hi Mr Kelly, what's new today"

Nearby is the grand structure of Cardiff Castle (with an unfortunate sightseeing bus that would not move! ... but gives some colour to the photograph) which has a varied and strange history. Although there were several encampments and forts on this site since Roman times, it was not until the Norman era that a Castle keep was built. Soon after, during the later Norman period, the Castle Keep (interior building on a grassy mound) was rebuilt in stone. The Castle fell into the hands of a succession of Earls throughout the Middle Ages before ending up in the hands of John Stuart (3rd Earl of Bute) in the 18th century. He was responsible with his descendants for turning Cardiff from a sleepy fishing town into a major coal port during the following century.

The Castle was enlarged and refashioned into an Early Gothic style by the 2nd Marquis of Bute, while the 3rd Marquis, who was one of the richest men in Britain, continued with the project by turning it into a Medieval Palace with the help of Architect William Burges. The Clock Tower as a date example was constructed in 1869.

(It was unfortunate that the logistics of my Cardiff friday day out meant I had to be back on the 3pm train and I only ever visited the interior once on a saturday car trip much earlier than this occasion. The interior is a mixture of a Norman keep on a grassy mound with a guided tour of dark Middle Ages buildings depicting grand fire places and middle eastern architecture... most unusual probably best demonstrated by looking at google images interior cardiff castle )

Gatekeeper - Keeping ancient people in .... &  modern un-paying people out

In 1947, all of the Bute estate was sold off and the 5th Marquis gave the castle to the city which has been a tourist destination for many years.

Flying high above the others ... well it is Wales

"anyone seen my fish ?!"
Walking to the left of the tour bus and Castle Tower, there was a bizarre looking wall that seemed to border Bute Park with some unusual stone animals perched on top of it.

"The changes I've seen over the years "
William Burges who was the architect for the 3rd Earl of Bute designed a built a wall in 1892 just in front of the Castle. However the road was later widened and the whole wall had to be moved along the road slightly. There were originally 9 animals on the original structure with a further 6 made in 1922.

Cardiff resident
During the 1930s, a newspaper column seemed to bring these animals to life by means of a cartoon. The children of the time thought and believed that they all came to life by night.

Retracing my steps back to the Castle and around the walls (avoiding the main shopping centre ! ), I came to a part of town in a different architectural age and style ....

The City Hall was built in 1906 and represents the best in Architecture of English Renaissance ...

French Rugby team feeling at home in Cardiff.
... on a street with a more unusual name !!

Monochrome - Taking the fire out of the dragon !
However, there is no doubt that the building is in Wales by the hot creature relaxing on the roof.

All to soon, it was 2.30 pm and time to think about going for my train. On this occasion though, I have difficulty in finding the platform as it does not seem to be through the normal access barriers. It turned out I had to walk through a food shop, up a modern staircase in the heritage building and it seems I am sitting on a platform perched precariously on the edge of a railway station.... like a stone animal on the side of a wall overlooking the car park.
If you get the wrong impression of the place on arrival with the renovation ... then on departure, well only the welsh would get away with this ......


  1. A place I've never been but well worth a visit by the look of this post. I love the first arcades.
    The clock tower is a beauty.

  2. Nice walk in Cardiff, J_on_Tour! When I visited, I loved the beautiful peacocks in the courtyard of the castle.

  3. Nice tour through Cardiff, J!
    I like the clock with the coat of arms.
    What a history!

  4. I love the photo with PINNACLE OF ACHIEVEMENT caption, the pelican, the dragon, everything - thanks for the tour. I really enjoyed it.

  5. The stone animals on the Castle Tower wall, look a bit spooky, and in contrast to the colourful sights in the other pictures - but are impressive, and I've found myself contemplating them longer.

  6. I love the clock tower, of course! and used book stores are always a favorite of mine. (I'm assuming you've been to Hay-on-Wye.) Enjoyed all the photos, including the google images of the interior of the castle. To think I was within 37 miles of Cardiff. :-( Just so much to see and do over there!! Never enough time. I kinda like the juxtaposition of the castle and the bus. :-)

  7. jundging from your pics and story, 2 weeks holiday in england wont do huh... :D

  8. We are all going to know so much "history" thanks to you. Love ALL the pictures--the clock tower, the dragon on the pinnacle, the stadium, on and on. Glad you found some good books at Troutman's.

  9. This architecture is very beautiful and impressive !
    I like particulary the gardens and statues of animals, bravo this is great !! :))


  10. Beautiful city. I like the diversity of your pictures!

  11. Interesting tour. I will always associate Cardiff with the election of Polish President since I had to vote there last July. Unfortunately didn't manage to take closer look at the city! Will have to change it:)

  12. Cardiff, great seeing it though some one else's eyes, if we win on the lottery we would go back and live there, love the photos, must have been the same guy on the gate of the castle, when I was there just before christmas!! Castle Coch is also a beautiful place to visit and take photos.
    Thanks for your comment, I saw the same promgrame, and had not heard about the face which is why we went down to take a look, but you know the story of our day!!

  13. Your blog is such a treat for me. I would love to visit your country for about a month, or more, and just see everything!!!

  14. Thank you for this trip to the castle and the victorian arcades! Wonderful images! Hugs from Luzia.

  15. Hey there! I haven't been on blogger a lot lately and am pleasantly surprised with the updates you have made to your blog. Awesome! And I simply LOVE your blog.

  16. Lovely tour in cardiff, i liked it :)

  17. Nice tour of Cardiff. I haven't been to that part of Wales -yet:)

  18. Well, today is Sunday! Unusual, ha?
    I came here (before Monday will start) - to take a tour with you on this wonderful sunny Cardiff!
    As I told you before, in my other life I had a castle and a train so, this kind of visits are close to my heart!
    I came (also) to wish you a great week !
    Take care! Winter is still here!

  19. It will be Monday all day???
    I come back for a couple of minutes to see the sun in Cardiff!
    Best regards!

  20. Adrian... Thanks, I had to edit down to one arcade, there are many in a small area. For me, they can put a barricade around the stereotypical main shopping street.

    Travelling Hawk... Thanks, the Castle is worth a look as I saw on an earlier visit. With hindsight, it's a shame that I didn't visit it at this point as I thought I would be returning on another occasion. My trips to the South west came to an end in December 2009.

    Monika... Thanks, the history of the city is a bit of an unusual surprise.

    Rizalenio... Thanks, It's nice to throw in some art composition with the variety mix.

    DUTA... Thanks, I agree about the animals. I have got used to looking at them now but when I first saw them, I thought that they were most strange. I don't think that they would make sculptures like that today.

    Cranberry Morning... Thanks, there are not as many book stores here as there are in Hay on Wye ( I've only been there once as it is difficult to get to and was most surprising). Strange how I wanted the Bus to move and yet it gives the scene some colour.

    Lily Riani... Thanks, there are so many good places to see and it can be argued by some that I make some of the places nicer in my blog !! Some locations in these places are more difficult to find than others. I let the viewer take in the sights of where I've been and let them make up their own mind. I take it you like it here but unfortunately some Welsh people might be upset with your comment assuming that Cardiff is in England, but I know what you mean.

    forgetmenot... Thanks, there was a little rivalry between Cardiff and Bristol when I travelled from there. I used to love coming here though even if I was happy just seeing the west side of town.

    Mahon... Thanks, pleased you enjoyed it. I also like the variety of old and new architecture.

    Phivos Nicolaides... Thanks, I like to keep myself interested too by posting a variety of pictures.

    Joo... Sorry you didn't get to see much here. You reminded me with your comment about the Welsh assembly Parliament in Cardiff Bay which is a different area that I visited on an earlier occasion.

    George the Lad... Thanks, Pleased you saw this post as I remember the one you showed us and got the feeling that you liked the place a lot. This set was taken on 20.08.09. I visited the spectacular but intimate Castle Coch once. It's a shame I haven't any digital pictures of it to put on here... one day when I get that copier !! It was always a great sight to see on the hillside travelling along the M4 or going up the valleys.

    Farmchick... Thanks, it's not everyones ability to do that but I aim to provide a coffee table style book for you to view if you can't.

    Luzia... Thanks, The Castle and Arcades are the best part of the city, pleased you enjoyed it.

    Blyde Neser... Thanks for your great comment.. appreciate it.

    Andras... Thanks, I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

    Midwest to Midlands... Thanks, living in England I find that South Wales is a bit under rated. South West Wales has some magnificent beaches although it seems to take a lifetime to get there ... even from Cardiff. Some places there are in a time warp of many years ago as the shops need a little updating. If I could visit two places again, it would be Cardiff and the small picturesque seaside village of Tenby.

    Wind... Thanks, pleased you enjoyed some sun. You'll have to invent a Winter sun photoshop !


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