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City and County of Cardiff
Dinas a Sir Caerdydd
Clockwise from top: Cardiff Bay, the Senedd, Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff Castle keep and the Millennium Stadium
Motto: Y ddraig goch ddyry cychwyn
(The red dragon will lead the way)
Location of the city of Cardiff (Light Green) within Wales
Coordinates: 51°29′07″N 3°11′12″W / 51.48528°N 3.18667°W / 51.48528; -3.18667Coordinates: 51°29′07″N 3°11′12″W / 51.48528°N 3.18667°W / 51.48528; -3.18667
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country Wales
Region South Wales
Historic county Glamorgan
 - Cardiff Council Leader   Rodney Berman
 - Welsh Assembly
 - UK Parliament
 - European Parliament Wales
 - City 2.6 sq mi (6.652 km2)
 - Urban 54.1 sq mi (140 km2)
Population (2001*; otherwise 2008 est.)
 - City 324,800
 Density 11,375.2/sq mi (4,392/km2)
 Urban 327,706*
841,500 (Larger Urban Zone)
Ethnicity [1]
 - White 91.57%
 - Mixed 1.99%
 - Asian 3.96%
 - Black 1.28%
 - Chinese/other 1.20%
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 - Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Post codes CF3, CF5, CF10, CF11, CF14, CF15, CF23, CF24
Area code(s) 029
Vehicle area codes CA, CB, CC, CD, CE, CF, CG, CH, CJ, CK, CL, CM, CN, CO
Police Force South Wales Police
Fire Service South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Ambulance Serivce Welsh Ambulance Service

Cardiff (pronounced /ˈkɑrdɪf/ ( listen), Welsh: Caerdydd ) is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. According to recent estimates, the population of the unitary authority area is 324,800.[2] Cardiff is a significant tourism centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 11.7 million visitors in 2006.[3]

The city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan (and later South Glamorgan). Cardiff is part of the Eurocities network of the largest European cities.[4] Cardiff Urban Area covers a slightly larger area, including Dinas Powys, Penarth and Radyr. A small town until the early 19th century, its prominence as a major port for the transport of coal following the arrival of industry in the region contributed to its rise as a major city.

Cardiff was made a city in 1905, and proclaimed capital of Wales in 1955. Since the 1990s Cardiff has seen significant development with a new waterfront area at Cardiff Bay which contains the new Welsh Assembly Building and the Wales Millennium Centre arts complex. The city centre is undergoing a major redevelopment. International sporting venues in the city include the Millennium Stadium (rugby union and football), SWALEC Stadium (cricket) and the newly opened Cardiff City Stadium. The city was awarded with the European City Of Sport in 2009 due to its role in hosting major international sporting events.



The front wall of Cardiff Castle, showing part of the original Roman fort from which the city derived its name.

Caerdydd (the Welsh name of the city), and its anglicised form Cardiff, derive from post-Roman Brythonic words meaning "the fort on the Taff". The fort refers to that established by the Romans. "Dydd" or "Diff" are both modifications of "Taff", the river on which Cardiff Castle stands, with the T mutating to D in Welsh. According to Professor Hywel Wyn Owen, a leading modern authority on toponymy, the Welsh pronunciation of "Caerdyff" as "Caerdydd" shows the colloquial alternation of Welsh "-f" and "-dd".[5]

The antiquarian William Camden (1551–1623) suggested that the name Cardiff may derive from the name "Caer-Didi" ("the Fort of Didius"), given in honour of Aulus Didius Gallus, governor of a nearby province at the time when the Roman fort was established. Although some websites repeat this theory as fact, it is disputed by modern scholars on linguistic grounds, with Professor Gwynedd Pierce of Cardiff University recently describing it as "rubbish".[6]



Tribes of Wales at the time of the Roman invasion (The modern English border is also shown)

Archaeological evidence from sites in and around Cardiff—the St Lythans burial chamber, near Wenvoe (about four miles (6.4 km) west, south west of Cardiff City Centre), the Tinkinswood burial chamber, near St Nicholas (about six miles (10 km) west of Cardiff City Centre), the Cae'rarfau Chambered Tomb, Creigiau (about six miles (10 km) north west of Cardiff City Centre) and the Gwern y Cleppa Long Barrow, near Coedkernew, Newport (about eight and a quarter miles (13.5 km) north east of Cardiff City Centre)—shows that Neolithic people had settled in the area by at least around 6,000 BP (Before Present), about 1,500 years before either Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed.[7][8][9][10][11] A group of five Bronze Age tumuli is at the summit of The Garth (Welsh: Mynydd y Garth), within the county's northern boundary.[12] Four Iron Age hillfort and enclosure sites have been identified within Cardiff's present-day county boundaries, including Caerau Hillfort, an enclosed area of 5.1 hectares (51,000 m2).[13][14][15][16]

Until the Roman conquest of Britain, Cardiff was part of the territory of the Silures – a Celtic British tribe that flourished in the Iron Age – whose territory included the areas that would become known as Breconshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorgan.[17] The 3.2-hectare (8-acre) fort established by the Romans near the mouth of the River Taff in 75 CE (Common Era), in what would become the north western boundary of the centre of Cardiff, was built over an extensive settlement that had been established by the Silures in the 50s CE.[18] The fort was one of a series of military outposts associated with Isca Augusta (Caerleon) that acted as border defences. The fort may have been abandoned in the early 2nd century as the area had been subdued, however by this time a civilian settlement, or vicus, was established. It was likely made up of traders who made a living from the fort, ex-soldiers and their families. A Roman villa has been discovered at Ely.[19] Contemporary with the Saxon Shore Forts of the 3rd and 4th centuries, a stone fortress was established at Cardiff. Similar to the shore forts, the fortress was built to protect Britannia from raiders.[20] Coins from the reign of Gratian indicate that Cardiff was inhabited until at least the 4th century; the fort was abandoned towards the end of the 4th century, as the last Roman legions left the province of Britannia with Magnus Maximus.[21][22]

Little is known about the fort and civilian settlement in the period between the Roman departure from Britain and the Norman Conquest. Historian William Rees suggests that the settlement probably shrank in size and may even have been abandoned. In the absence of Roman rule, Wales was divided into small kingdoms; early on, Meurig ap Tewdrig emerged as the local king in Glywysing (which later became Glamorgan). The area passed through his family until the advent of the Normans in the 11th century.[23]

Norman occupation to the Middle Ages

View of Caerdiffe Castle (sic)

In 1081 William I of England began work on the castle keep within the walls of the old Roman fort.[24] Cardiff Castle has been at the heart of the city ever since.[25] The castle was substantially altered and extended during the Victorian period by John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, and the architect William Burges. Original Roman work can, however, still be distinguished in the wall facings.

A small town grew up in the shadow of the castle, made up primarily of settlers from England.[26] Cardiff had a population of between 1,500 and 2,000 in the Middle Ages, a relatively normal size for a Welsh town in this period.[27] By the end of the 13th century, Cardiff was the only town in Wales with a population exceeding 2,000, but it was relatively small compared with most notable towns in the Kingdom of England.[28]

In the early 12th century a wooden palisade was erected around the city to protect it. Cardiff was a busy port in the Middle Ages, and was declared a Staple port in 1327.[29]

Henry II travelled through Cardiff on his journey to Ireland and had a premonition against the holding of Sunday markets at St Piran's Chapel, which stood in the middle of the road between the castle entrance and Westgate.[citation needed]

In 1404 Owain Glyndwr burned Cardiff and took Cardiff Castle.[29] As the town was still very small, most of the buildings were made of wood and the town was destroyed. However, the town was soon rebuilt and began to flourish once again.[27]

County town of Glamorganshire

In 1536, the Act of Union between England and Wales led to the creation of the shire of Glamorgan, and Cardiff was made the county town. It also became part of Kibbor hundred.[citation needed] Around this same time the Herbert family became the most powerful family in the area.[26] In 1538, Henry VIII closed the Dominican and Franciscan friaries in Cardiff, the remains of which were used as building materials.[27] A writer around this period described Cardiff: "The River Taff runs under the walls of his honours castle and from the north part of the town to the south part where there is a fair quay and a safe harbour for shipping."[27]

John Speed's map of Cardiff from 1610

Cardiff had become a Free Borough in 1542.[29] In 1573, it was made a head port for collection of customs duties, and in 1581, Elizabeth I granted Cardiff its first royal charter.[26] Pembrokeshire historian George Owen described Cardiff in 1602 as "the fayrest towne in Wales yett not the welthiest.",[26] and the town gained a second Royal Charter in 1608.[30] Disastrous flooding led to a change in the course of the River Taff and the ruining of St Mary's Parish Church, which was replaced by its chapel of ease, St John the Baptist.[citation needed] During the Second English Civil War, St Fagans just to the west of the town, played host to the Battle of St Fagans. The battle, between a Royalist rebellion and a New Model Army detachment, was a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians and allowed Oliver Cromwell to conquer Wales.[29] It is the last major battle to occur in Wales, with about 200 (mostly Royalist) soldiers killed.[26]

In the ensuing century Cardiff was at peace. In 1766, John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute married into the Herbert family and was later created Baron Cardiff,[26] and in 1778 he began renovations on Cardiff Castle.[31] In the 1790s a racecourse, printing press, bank and coffee house all opened, and Cardiff gained a stagecoach service to London. Despite these improvements, Cardiff's position in the Welsh urban hierarchy had declined over the 18th century. Iolo Morgannwg called it "an obscure and inconsiderable place", and the 1801 census found the population to be only 1,870, making Cardiff only the twenty-fifth largest town in Wales, well behind Merthyr and Swansea.[32]

Building of the docks

Cardiff Docks—from where coal was shipped throughout the world

In 1793, John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute was born. He would spend his life building the Cardiff docks and would later be called "the creator of modern Cardiff".[26] A twice-weekly boat service between Cardiff and Bristol was established in 1815,[31] and in 1821, the Cardiff Gas Works was established.[31]

After the Napoleonic Wars Cardiff entered a period of social and industrial unrest, starting with the trial and hanging of Dic Penderyn in 1831.[citation needed]

The town grew rapidly from the 1830s onwards, when the Marquess of Bute built a dock which eventually linked to the Taff Vale Railway. Cardiff became the main port for exports of coal from the Cynon, Rhondda, and Rhymney valleys, and grew at a rate of nearly 80% per decade between 1840 and 1870. Much of the growth was due to migration from within and outside Wales: in 1841, a quarter of Cardiff's population were English-born and more than 10% had been born in Ireland.[33] By the 1881 census, Cardiff had overtaken both Merthyr and Swansea to become the largest town in Wales.[34] Cardiff's new status as the premier town in South Wales was confirmed when it was chosen as the site of the University College South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1893.[32]

Cardiff faced a challenge in the 1880s when David Davies of Llandinam and the Barry Railway Company promoted the development of rival docks at Barry. Barry docks had the advantage of being accessible in all tides, and David Davies claimed that his venture would cause "grass to grow in the streets of Cardiff". From 1901 coal exports from Barry surpassed those from Cardiff, but the administration of the coal trade remained centred on Cardiff, in particular its Coal Exchange, where the price of coal on the British market was determined and the first million-pound deal was struck in 1907.[32] The city also strengthened its industrial base with the decision of the owners of the Dowlais Ironworks in Merthyr (who would later form part of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds) to build a new steelworks close to the docks at East Moors, which was opened on 4 February 1891 by Lord Bute.[35]

City and capital city status

Welsh National War Memorial, Cathays Park

King Edward VII granted Cardiff city status on 28 October 1905,[36] and the city acquired a Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1916. In subsequent years an increasing number of national institutions were located in the city, including the National Museum of Wales, Welsh National War Memorial, and the University of Wales Registry Building—however, it was denied the National Library of Wales, partly because the library's founder, Sir John Williams, considered Cardiff to have "a non-Welsh population".[32]

After a brief post-war boom, Cardiff docks entered a prolonged decline in the interwar period. By 1936, their trade was less than half its value in 1913, reflecting the slump in demand for Welsh coal.[32] Bomb damage during the Cardiff Blitz in World War II included the devastation of Llandaff Cathedral, and in the immediate postwar years the city's link with the Bute family came to an end.

The city was proclaimed capital city of Wales on 20 December 1955, by a written reply by the Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George. Caernarfon had also vied for this title.[37] Cardiff therefore celebrated two important anniversaries in 2005. The Encyclopedia of Wales notes that the decision to recognise the city as the capital of Wales "had more to do with the fact that it contained marginal Conservative constituencies than any reasoned view of what functions a Welsh capital should have". Although the city hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1958, Cardiff only became a centre of national administration with the establishment of the Welsh Office in 1964, which later prompted the creation of various other public bodies such as the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Development Agency, most of which were based in Cardiff.

The National Museum Cardiff, next to City Hall

The East Moors Steelworks closed in 1978 and Cardiff lost population during the 1980s,[38] consistent with a wider pattern of counter urbanisation in Britain. However, it recovered and was one of the few cities (outside London) where population grew during the 1990s.[39] During this period the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was promoting the redevelopment of south Cardiff; an evaluation of the regeneration of Cardiff Bay published in 2004 concluded that the project had "reinforced the competitive position of Cardiff" and "contributed to a massive improvement in the quality of the built environment", although it had failed "to attract the major inward investors originally anticipated".[40]

In the 1999 devolution referendum, Cardiff voters rejected the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales by 55.4% to 44.2% on a 47% turnout, which Denis Balsom partly ascribed to a general preference in Cardiff and some other parts of Wales for a 'British' rather than exclusively 'Welsh' identity.[41][42] The relative lack of support for the Assembly locally, and difficulties between the Welsh Office and Cardiff Council in acquiring the original preferred venue, Cardiff City Hall, encouraged other local authorities to bid to house the Assembly.[43][44] However, the Assembly eventually located at Ty Hywel in Cardiff Bay in 1999; in 2005, a new debating chamber on an adjacent site, designed by Richard Rogers, was opened.

The city was county town of Glamorgan until the council reorganisation in 1974 paired Cardiff and the now Vale of Glamorgan together as the new county of South Glamorgan. Further local government restructuring in 1996 resulted in Cardiff city's district council becoming a unitary authority, the City and County of Cardiff, with the addition of Creigiau and Pentyrch.

Cathays Park, Cardiff, with Cardiff City Hall (left) and the National Museum Gallery of Wales (right)


Since local government reorganisation in 1996, Cardiff has been governed by The City and County Council of Cardiff, which is based at County Hall in Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff Bay. Voters elect 75 councillors every four years, with the next elections due to be held in 2012. Since the 2004 local elections, no individual political party has held a majority on Cardiff County Council. The Liberal Democrats have 35 councillors, the Conservatives have 17, Labour have 13, Plaid Cymru have seven and three councillors sit as Independents. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Rodney Berman, is from the Liberal Democrats.[45] The Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have formed a partnership administration to run the council.[46]

The Senedd building.

The National Assembly for Wales has been based in Cardiff Bay since its formation in 1999. The building, known as the Senedd (which translates into English as Legislature, Parliament or Senate) was opened on 1 March 2006, by The Queen.[47] Many Welsh Assembly Government civil servants are based in Cardiff's Cathays Park, with smaller numbers in a variety of other locations in the city centre, Coryton, Llanishen, Tremorfa and Morganstown.[48] The Assembly Members (AMs), the Assembly Parliamentary Service and Ministerial support staff are based in Cardiff Bay. Cardiff elects four constituency Assembly Members (AMs) to the Assembly, with the individual constituencies for the Assembly being the same as for the UK Parliament. All of the city's residents have an extra vote for the South Wales Central region which increases proportionality to the Assembly. The most recent Welsh Assembly general election were held on 3 May 2007.


The centre of Cardiff is relatively flat and is bounded by hills on the outskirts to the east, north and west. Its geographic features were influential in its development as the world's largest coal port, most notably its proximity and easy access to the coal fields of the south Wales valleys.

Cardiff is built on reclaimed marshland on a bed of Triassic stones; this reclaimed marshland stretches from Chepstow to the Ely Estuary,[49] which is the natural boundary of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. Triassic landscapes of this part of the world are usually shallow and low-lying which accounts and explains the flatness of the centre of Cardiff.[50] The classic Triassic marl, sand and conglomerate rocks are used predominantly throughout Cardiff as building materials. Many of these Triassic rocks have a purple complexion, especially the coastal marl found near Penarth. One of the Triassic rocks used in Cardiff is "Radyr Stone", a freestone which as it name suggests is quarried in the Radyr district.[51] Cardiff has also imported some materials for buildings: Devonian sandstones (the Old Red Sandstone) from the Brecon Beacons has been used. Most famously, the buildings of Cathays Park, the civic centre in the centre of the city, are built of Portland stone which was imported from Dorset.[52] A widely used building stone in Cardiff is the yellow-grey Liassic limestone rock of the Vale of Glamorgan, including the very rare "Sutton Stone", a conglomerate of lias limestone and carboniferous limestone.[53]

Cardiff is bordered to the west by the rural district of the Vale of Glamorgan—also known as The Garden of Cardiff—[54] to the east by the city of Newport, to the north by the South Wales Valleys and to the south by the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel. The River Taff winds through the centre of the city and together with the River Ely flows into the freshwater lake of Cardiff Bay. A third river, the Rhymney flows through the east of the city entering directly into the Severn Estuary.

Cardiff is situated near the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, stretching westward from Penarth and Barry—commuter towns of Cardiff—with striped yellow-blue Jurassic limestone cliffs. The Glamorgan coast is the only part of the Celtic Sea that has exposed Jurassic (blue lias) geology. This stretch of coast, which has reefs, sandbanks and serrated cliffs, was a ship graveyard; ships sailing up to Cardiff during the industrial era often never made it as far as Cardiff as many were wrecked around this hostile coastline during west/south-westerly gales. Consequently, smuggling, deliberate shipwrecking and attacks on ships were common.[55]


City centre apartment and hotel towers

"Inner Cardiff" consists of the following wards: Penylan, Plasnewydd, Gabalfa, Roath, Cathays, Adamsdown and Splott ward on the north and east of the city centre, and Butetown, Grangetown, Riverside and Canton to the south and west.[56] The inner-city areas to the south of the A4161 road (known as the "Southern Arc") are, with the exception of Cardiff Bay, some of the poorest districts of Wales with low levels of economic activity.[57] On the other hand Gabalfa, Plasnewydd and Cathays north of the 'arc' have very large student populations,[58] and Pontcanna (situated north of Riverside and alongside Canton) is a favourite for students and young professionals. Penylan, which lies to the north east side of Roath Park, is an affluent area popular with those with older children and the retired.

Stadium House and South Gate House

"Suburban Cardiff" can be broken down into three distinct areas. To the west lie Ely, Caerau and Fairwater which contain some of the largest housing estates in the United Kingdom. With the exception of some of the outlying privately built estates at Michaelston Super Ely and 1930s developments near Waun-Gron Road, this is an economically disadvantaged area with high numbers of unemployed households. Culverhouse Cross is a more affluent western area of the city. Radyr, Llandaff, Llandaff North, Whitchurch & Tongwynlais, Rhiwbina, Heath, Llanishen, Thornhill, Lisvane and Cyncoed which lie in an arc from the north west to the north east of the centre can be considered the main middle class suburbs of the city. In particular, Cyncoed, Radyr and Lisvane contain some of the most expensive housing in Wales. Further to the east lie the wards of Pontprennau & Old St Mellons, Rumney, Pentwyn, Llanrumney and Trowbridge. The latter three are again largely of public housing stock, although new private housing is being built in Trowbridge in considerable number. Pontprennau is the newest 'suburb' of Cardiff, whilst Old St Mellons has a history going back to the Norman Conquest in the 11th century.[59]

To the north west of the city lies a region that may be called "Rural Cardiff" containing the villages of St. Fagans, Creigiau, Pentyrch, Tongwynlais and Gwaelod-y-garth.[60] St. Fagans, home to the Museum of Welsh Life, is protected from further development.[61]

Since 2000, there has been a significant change of scale and building height in Cardiff, with the development of the city centre's first purpose-built high-rise apartments.[62] Tall buildings have been built in the city centre and Cardiff Bay, and more are planned.[63] A luxury hotel, Bayscape, has been granted planning permission at the Cardiff International Sports Village and it will be the tallest building in Wales upon completion.[64]


Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: Met Office

Cardiff lies within the north temperate zone and has an essentially maritime climate, characterised by mild weather that is often cloudy, wet and windy.[65] Summers tend to be warm and sunny, with average maximum temperatures between 19 °C (66 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F). Winters tend to be fairly wet, but rainfall is rarely excessive and the temperature usually stays above freezing. Spring and autumn feel quite similar and the temperatures tend to stay above 14 °C (57 °F)—also the average annual daytime temperature. Rain is unpredictable at any time of year, although the showers tend to be shorter in summer.[66]

The northern part of the county, being higher and inland—e.g. The Garth (Welsh: Mynydd y Garth), about 7 miles (11 km) north west of Cardiff city centre, (elevation 1,007 feet (307 m))—tends to be cooler and wetter than the city centre.[citation needed][67]


Cardiff's maximum and minimum monthly temperatures average 21.3 °C (70.3 °F) (August) and 2.1 °C (35.8 °F) (January and February).
For Wales, the temperatures average 19.1 °C (66.4 °F) (July) and 1.1 °C (34.0 °F) (February).[68][69]

Sunshine hours

Cardiff has 1518 hours of sunshine during an average year (Wales 1388.7 hours). Cardiff is sunniest during July, with an average 203.4 hours during the month (Wales 183.3 hours), and least sunny during December with 44.6 hours (Wales 38.5 hours).[68][69]


Cardiff experiences less rainfall than Wales as a whole.

Rain falls in Cardiff on 146 days during an average year, with total annual rainfall of 1,111.7 millimetres (43.77 in). Monthly rainfall pattern shows that from September to January average monthly rainfall in Cardiff exceeded 100 millimetres (3.9 in) each month, the wettest month being December with 128 millimetres (5.0 in). Cardiff's dryest months are from April to July, with average monthly rainfall fairly consistent, at between 60.5 millimetres (2.38 in) and 65.9 millimetres (2.59 in).[68][69]

Rain falls in Wales on 165.5 days during an average year, with total annual rainfall of 1,435.9 millimetres (56.53 in). Monthly rainfall pattern shows that from September to January average monthly rainfall in Wales exceeded 120.0 millimetres (4.72 in) each month, the wettest month being December with 173.3 millimetres (6.82 in) Wales' dryest months are from April to July, with average monthly rainfall fairly consistent, at between 78.4 millimetres (3.09 in) and 85.9 millimetres (3.38 in).[68][69]


Year Population of Cardiff Change
1801 6,342 -
1851 26,630 320%
1861 48,965 184%
1871 71,301 84%
1881 93,637 31%
1891 142,114 52%
1901 172,629 21%
1911 209,804 22%
1921 227,753 9%
1931 247,270 9%
1941 257,112 4%
1951 267,356 4%
1961 278,552 4%
1971 290,227 4%
1981 274,500 -5%
1991 272,557 -1%
2001 292,150 7%
2007 321,000* 10%
2008 324,800† 1%
source: Vision of Britain except *,
which is estimated by the
Office for National Statistics,
and † which is estimated by National Statistics for Wales.
Historical populations are calculated
with the modern boundaries

Following a period of decline during the 1970s and 1980s, Cardiff's population is growing. The local authority area had an estimated population of more than 324,800 in 2008,[2] compared to a 2001 Census figure of 305,353.[70] Between mid-2007 and mid-2008, Cardiff was the fastest-growing local authority in Wales with population growth rate of 1.2%.[2] According to Census 2001 data, Cardiff was the 14th largest settlement in the United Kingdom,[71] and the 21st largest urban area.[72] The Cardiff Larger Urban Zone (a Eurostat definition including the Vale of Glamorgan and a number of local authorities in the Valleys) has 841,600 people, the 10th largest LUZ in the UK.[73]

Official estimates derived from the census regarding the city's total population have been disputed. The city council has published two articles that argue the 2001 census seriously under reports the population of Cardiff and, in particular, the ethnic minority population of some inner city areas.[74][75]

Cardiff has a ethnically diverse population due to its past trading connections, post-war immigration and the large numbers of foreign students who attend university in the city. The ethnic make-up of Cardiff's population at the time of the 2001 census was: 91.6% white, 2% mixed race, 4% South Asian, 1.3% black, 1.2% other ethnic groups. According to a report published in 2005, over 30,000 people from an ethnic minority live in Cardiff, around 8.4% of the city's total - many of these communities live in Butetown, where ethnic minorities make up around a third of the total population.[76] This diversity, and especially that of the city's long-established African and Arab communities, has been celebrated in a number of cultural exhibitions and events, along with a number of books which have been published on this subject.[77][78]


See also: Cardiff accent

Cardiff has a chequered linguistic history with Welsh, English, Latin, Norse and Norman-French preponderant at different times. Welsh was the majority language in Cardiff from the 13th century until the city's explosive growth in the Victorian era.[79] As late as 1850, five of the twelve Anglican churches within the current city boundaries conducted their services exclusively in the Welsh language, while only two worshipped exclusively in English.[79] By 1891, the percentage of Welsh speakers had dropped to 27.9% and only Lisvane, Llanedeyrn and Creigiau remained as majority Welsh-speaking communities.[80] The Welsh language became grouped around a small cluster of chapels and churches, the most notable of which is Tabernacl in the city centre, one of four UK churches chosen to hold official services to commemorate the new millennium. Following the establishment of the city's first Welsh School (Ysgol Gymraeg Bryntaf) in the 1950s, Welsh has slowly regained some ground.[81] Aided by Welsh-medium education and migration from other parts of Wales, the number of Welsh speakers in Cardiff rose by 14,451 between 1991 and 2001; Welsh is now spoken by 11% of Cardiffians. The highest percentage of Welsh speakers is in Pentyrch, where 15.9% of the population speak the language.[82]

In addition to English and Welsh, the diversity of Cardiff's population (including foreign students) means that a large number of languages are spoken within the city. One study has found that Cardiff has speakers of at least 94 languages, with Somali, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic being the most commonly spoken foreign languages.[83]

Language schools

Due to its diversity, large student population, and convenient size and location, Cardiff has seen a rise in the amount of people coming to the city to learn English. Foreign students are a common sight on the streets of Cardiff with a large percentage coming from Arabic and other European countries.[2] The British Council has an office in the city centre and there are six accredited schools in the area.[84]


Since 1922 Cardiff has included the suburban cathedral 'village' of Llandaff, whose bishop is also Archbishop of Wales since 2002. There is also a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city. Since 1916 Cardiff has been the seat of a Catholic archbishop, but there appears to have been a fall in the estimated Catholic population, with estimated numbers in 2006 being around 25,000 less than in 1980.[85] Likewise, the Jewish population of the city also appears to have fallen—there are two synagogues in Cardiff, one in Cyncoed and one in Moira Terrace, as opposed to seven at the turn of the 20th century.[86] There are a significant number of nonconformist chapels, an early-20th century Greek Orthodox church and 11 mosques.[87][88][89] In the 2001 census 66.9% of Cardiff's population described itself as Christian, a percentage point below the Welsh and UK averages.

In the 2001 census Cardiff's Muslim population stood at 3.7%, above the UK average (2.7%) and significantly above the Welsh average. Cardiff has one of the longest-established Muslim populations in the UK, started by Yemeni sailors who settled in the city during the 19th century.[90] The first mosque in the UK (on the site of what is now known as the Al-Manar Islamic Centre) opened in 1860 in the Cathays district of Cardiff.[91] Cardiff is now home to over 11,000 Muslims from many different nationalities and backgrounds,[92] nearly 52 per cent of the Welsh Muslim population.[93]

The former Cardiff Synagogue, Cathedral Road—now an office block.

The oldest of the non-Christian communities in Wales is Judaism. Jews were not permitted to live in Wales between the 1290 Edict of Expulsion—given by Edward I of England—and the seventeenth century. A Welsh Jewish community was re-established in the eighteenth century.[94] There was once a fairly substantial Jewish population in South Wales, most of which has disappeared. The modern community is centered in the Cardiff United Synagogue.

The proportion of Cardiff residents declaring themselves to be Hindu, Sikh and Jewish were all considerably higher than the Welsh averages, but less than the UK figures. The city has been home to a sizable Hindu community since Indian immigrants settled there during the 1950s and 1960s. The first Hindu temple in the city was opened in Grangetown on 6 April 1979 on the site of an abandoned printing press (which itself was the former site of a synagogue).[95] The 25th anniversary of the temple's founding was celebrated in September 2007 with a parade of over 3000 people through the city centre, including Hindus from across the United Kingdom and members of Cardiff's other religious communities.[96] Today, there are over 2000 Hindus in Cardiff, worshiping at three temples across the city.[92]

In the 2001 census 18.8% of the city's population stated they had no religion, while 8.6% did not state a religion.[97]


As the capital city of Wales, Cardiff is the main engine of growth in the Welsh economy. The economy of Cardiff and adjacent areas makes up nearly 20% of Welsh GDP and 40% of the city’s workforce are daily in-commuters from the surrounding south Wales area.[98][99]

The new Cardiff John Lewis, the 2nd biggest John Lewis in the U.K. and the 2nd largest department store in the UK outside London.

Industry has played a major part in Cardiff's development for many centuries. The main catalyst for its transformation from a small town into a big city was the demand for coal required in making iron and later steel, brought to the sea by packhorse from Merthyr Tydfil. This was first achieved by the construction of a 25-mile (40 km) long canal from Merthyr (510 feet above sea-level) to the Taff Estuary at Cardiff.[100] Eventually the Taff Vale Railway replaced the canal barges and massive marshalling yards sprang up as new docks were developed in Cardiff - all prompted by the soaring worldwide demand for coal from the South Wales valleys.

At its peak, Cardiff's port area, known as Tiger Bay, became the busiest port in the world and—for some time—the world's most important coal port. In the years leading up to the First World War, more than 10 million tonnes of coal was exported annually from Cardiff Docks.[101] In 1907, Cardiff's Coal Exchange was the first host to a business deal for a million pounds Sterling.[102] After a period of decline, Cardiff's port has started to grow again – over 3 million tonnes of cargo passed through the docks in 2007.[103]

Today, Cardiff is the principal finance and business services centre in Wales, and as such there is a strong representation of finance and business services in the local economy. This sector, combined with the Public Administration, Education and Health sectors, have accounted for around 75% of Cardiff's economic growth since 1991.[104] The city was recently placed seventh overall in the top 50 European cities in the fDI 2008 Cities of the Future list published by the fDi magazine, and also ranked seventh in terms of attracting foreign investment.[105] Notable companies such as Legal & General, Admiral Insurance, HBOS, Zurich, ING Direct, The AA, Principality Building Society, 118118, British Gas, Brains, SWALEC Energy and BT, all operate large national or regional headquarters and contact centres in the city, some of them based in Cardiff's office towers such as Capital Tower and Brunel House. Other major employers include NHS Wales and the National Assembly for Wales. On 1 March 2004, Cardiff was granted Fairtrade City status.

Cardiff is the one of the most popular tourist destination cities in the United Kingdom, with one survey recording just under 12 million visitors in 2006.[106] One result of this is that one in five employees in Cardiff are based in the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector, highlighting the growing retail and tourism industries in the city.[104] There are a large number of hotels of varying sizes and standards in the city, providing almost 9,000 available bed spaces.[106]

Cardiff is home to the Welsh media and the UK's largest film, TV and multimedia sector outside London with BBC Wales, S4C and ITV Wales all having studios in the city.[107] In particular, there is a large independent TV production industry sector of over 600 companies, employing around 6000 employees and with a turnover estimated at £350 m.[107] Just to the north west of the city, in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first completely new film studios in the UK for 30 years are being built, named Valleywood. The studios are set to be the biggest in the UK. The BBC has announced it is to build new studios in Cardiff Bay to film dramas such as Casualty and Doctor Who, with the BBC intending to double media output from the city by 2016.[108]

Cardiff has several regeneration projects such the St David's 2 Centre and surrounding areas of the city centre, and the $1.4 billion International Sports Village in Cardiff Bay which will play a part in London 2012 Olympics. It features the only Olympic-standard swimming pool in Wales, the Cardiff International Pool, which opened on 12 January 2008.

According to the Welsh Rugby Union, the Millennium Stadium has contributed GBP1 bn to the Welsh economy in the ten years since it opened (1999), with around 85% of that amount staying in the Cardiff area.[109]


The majority of Cardiff's shopping portfolio is in the city centre around Queen Street and St. Mary's Street, with large suburban retail parks located in Cardiff Bay, Culverhouse Cross, Leckwith, Newport Road and Pontprennau, together with markets in the city centre and Splott. A major £675 million regeneration programme for Cardiff's St. David's Centre is underway which, when completed in 2009, will provide a total of 1,400,000 square feet (130,000 m2) of shopping space, making it one of the largest shopping centres in the United Kingdom.[110]

Cardiff is sixth best city in the United Kingdom for shopping, according to a poll in November 2009, surpassing other cities such as Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh and Newcastle upon Tyne.[111]

Landmarks and attractions

Millennium Stadium

Cardiff has many landmark buildings such as the Millennium Stadium, Pierhead Building and the National Assembly for Wales. However Cardiff is also famous for Cardiff Castle, St David's Hall, Llandaff Cathedral and the Wales Millennium Centre.

Cardiff Castle is a major tourist attraction in the city and is situated in the heart of the city centre, near the main shopping area of Queen Street and St. Mary's Street. The National History Museum at St Fagans in Cardiff is a large open air museum housing dozens of buildings from throughout Welsh history that have been moved to the site in Cardiff.

The Civic Centre in Cathays Park comprises a collection of Edwardian buildings such as the City Hall, National Museum and Gallery of Wales, Cardiff Crown Court, and buildings forming part of Cardiff University, together with more modern civic buildings. These buildings surround a small green space containing the Welsh National War Memorial and a number of other smaller memorials.

Modern-day Cardiff Bay

Other major tourist attractions are the Cardiff Bay regeneration sites which include the recently opened Wales Millennium Centre and the Senedd, and many other cultural and sites of interest including the Cardiff Bay Barrage and the famous Coal Exchange. The New Theatre was founded in 1906 and completely refurbished in the 1980s. Until the opening of the Wales Millennium Centre in 2004, it was the premier venue in Wales for touring theatre and dance companies. Other venues which are popular for concerts and sporting events include Cardiff International Arena, St David's Hall and the Millennium Stadium.

Cardiff has over 1,000 listed buildings, ranging from the more prominent buildings such as the castles, to smaller buildings, houses and structures.[112]

Cardiff has walks of special interest for tourists and ramblers alike, such as the Centenary Walk, which runs for 2.3 miles (3.7 km) within Cardiff city centre. This route passes through many of Cardiff's landmarks and historic buildings.


In addition to Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch (English: Red Castle) is located in Tongwynlais, in the north of the city. The current castle is an elaborately decorated Victorian folly designed by William Burges for the Marquess and built in the 1870s, as an occasional retreat. However, the Victorian castle stands on the footings of a much older medieval castle possibly built by Ifor Bach, a regional baron with links to Cardiff Castle also. The exterior has become a popular location for film and television productions. It rarely fulfilled its intended role as a retreat for the Butes, who seldom stayed there. For the Marquess, the pleasure had been in its creation, a pleasure lost following Burges's death in 1881.

Cardiff castle wall 01.jpg
Cardiff Castle
North Gate
Cardiff Castle keep.jpg
 Cardiff Castle Keep
Castell Coch frontside January midday.jpg
 Castell Coch
Garden Castle St Fagans 12.JPG
  St Fagans Castle

Situated on the narrowest part of the south Wales coastal plain, Cardiff had a crucial strategic importance in the wars between the Normans (who had occupied lowland Wales) and the Welsh who maintained their hold on the uplands. As a result Cardiff claims to have the largest concentration of castles of any city in the world.[113] As well as Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch, the remains of Twmpath Castle,[114] the Llandaff Bishop's Palace and Saint Fagans Castle are still in existence, whilst the site of Treoda (or Whitchurch Castle) has now been built over.[115]

Culture and recreation

Music and performing arts

Cardiff has many cultural sites varying from the historical Cardiff Castle and out of town Castell Coch to the more modern Wales Millennium Centre and Cardiff Bay. Cardiff was a finalist in the European Capital of Culture 2008.[116] In recent years Cardiff has grown in stature as a tourist destination, with recent accolades including Cardiff being voted the eighth favourite UK city by readers of the Guardian.[117] The city was also listed as one of the top 10 destinations in the UK on the official British tourist boards website Visit Britain,[118] and US travel guide Frommers have listed Cardiff as one of 13 top destinations worldwide for 2008.[119]

A large number of concerts are held within the city, the larger ones being performed in St David's Hall, the Cardiff International Arena and occasionally the Millennium Stadium. A number of festivals are also held in Cardiff—the largest of these is the Cardiff Big Weekend Festival, which is held annually in the city centre during the summer and plays host to free musical performances (from artists such as Ash, Jimmy Cliff, Cerys Matthews, the Fun Loving Criminals, Soul II Soul and The Magic Numbers), fairground rides and cultural events such as a Children's Festival that takes place in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The annual festival claims to be the UK's largest free outdoor festival, attracting over 250,000 visitors in 2007.[120]

Cardiff hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1883, 1899, 1938, 1960, 1978 and 2008. Cardiff is unique in Wales in having two permanent stone circles used by the Gorsedd of Bards during Eisteddfodau. The original circle stands in Gorsedd Gardens in front of the National Museum while its 1978 replacement is situated in Bute Park. Since 1983, Cardiff has hosted the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, a world renowned event on the opera calendar which is held every two years. The city also hosts smaller events.

A number of performing arts venues are located within the city—the largest and most prominent of these is the Wales Millenium Centre, which hosts performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals, and (as of autumn 2008) is home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. St David's Hall (which hosts the Singer of the World competition) has regular performances of classical music and ballet as well as music of other genres. The largest of Cardiff's theatres is the New Theatre, situated in the city centre just off Queen Street. Other such venues include the Sherman Theatre, Chapter Arts Centre and the The Gate Arts Centre.

The Cardiff music scene is established and wide-ranging—it is home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera, has produced several leading acts itself and, as a capital city, has acted as a springboard for numerous Welsh bands to go and become famous both nationally and internationally. Acts who hail from Cardiff include Charlotte Church, Shirley Bassey, The Oppressed, Kids In Glass Houses, Los Campesinos, The Hot Puppies, Pagan Wanderer Lu, Budgie, and Shakin' Stevens. Also, performers such as The Automatic,[121] Manic Street Preachers,[122] Lostprophets,[123] Super Furry Animals, Catatonia and Bullet for My Valentine have links with the city and are associated with the Cardiff music scene.[124]


Cardiff has a strong nightlife and is home to many bars, pubs and clubs. An extensive venue and events list can be found at What's on in Cardiff guide. Most clubs and bars are situated in the city centre, especially St. Mary's Street, and more recently Cardiff Bay has built up a strong night scene, with many modern bars & restaurants. The Brewery Quarter on St. Mary's Street is a recently developed venue for bars and restaurant with a central courtyard. Charles Street is also a popular part of the city.

The lake at Roath Park, including the lighthouse erected as a memorial to Captain Scott

Cardiff is known for its extensive parkland, with parks and other such green spaces covering around 10% of the city's total area.[125] Cardiff's main park, Bute Park (which was formerly the castle grounds) extends northwards from the top of one of Cardiff's main shopping street (Queen Street); when combined with the adjacent Llandaff Fields and Pontcanna Fields to the north west it produces a massive open space skirting the River Taff. Other popular parks include Roath Park in the north, donated to the city by the 3rd Marquess of Bute in 1887 and which includes a very popular boating lake; Victoria Park, Cardiff's first official park; and Thompson's Park, formerly home to an aviary removed in the 1970s. Wild open spaces include Howardian Local Nature Reserve, 32 acres (130,000 m2) of the lower Rhymney valley in Penylan noted for its Orchids, and Forest Farm Country Park, over 150 acres (0.61 km2) along the river Taff in Whitchurch.

Cardiff is one of the top ten retail destinations in the UK,[110][126] with two main shopping streets (Queen Street and St. Mary Street), and three main shopping arcades; St. David's Centre, Queens Arcade and the Capitol Centre. The current expansion of St. David's Centre as part of the St. David's 2 project will see it become one of the largest shopping centres in the United Kingdom. As well as the modern shopping arcades, the city is also home to many Victorian shopping centres, such as High Street Arcade, Castle Arcade, Wyndham Arcade, Royal Arcade and Morgan Arcade. Also of note is The Hayes, home to Spillers Records, the world's oldest record shop.[127][128] Cardiff has a number of markets, including the vast Victorian indoor Cardiff Central Market and the newly-established Riverside Community Market, which specialises in locally-produced organic produce. Several out-of-town retail parks exist, such as Newport Road, Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff Gate and Cardiff Bay.


Cardiff is the Welsh base for the national television broadcasters (BBC, ITV1 Wales and S4C). Between 2002 and 2009 Capital TV served the city, a locally-based free-to-air analogue terrestrial television station operating on a Restricted Service Licence.

The headquarters of BBC Cymru Wales are based in Broadcasting House Cardiff, in Llandaff.

The main local newspaper, the South Wales Echo and the national paper the Western Mail are based in Park Street in the city centre. Capital Times, Cardiff Post and the South Wales edition of Metro are also based and distributed in the city. There are also a number of magazines based in the city including Buzz magazine, Primary Times and a monthly Welsh language paper called Y Dinesydd (The Citizen).

A number of other radio stations serve the city and are based in Cardiff, including Red Dragon FM, Real Radio, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, Radio Cardiff, Gold and Xpress Radio. Xfm started broadcasting from Cardiff on 29 November 2007, making the South Wales region its fourth dedicated area. Transmissions have now been replaced by Nation Radio which is based in Neath.

Google Street View is now available throughout Cardiff. The introduction of this was controversial at the time, but an online poll has since voted the Millennium Stadium to be one of six locations in the UK to be specially photographed and made available on Google Street View as a 360-degree virtual tour.[129] This new media has been quickly adopted by local companies to be incorporated in their websites. CPS Homes (property agent in Cardiff) became the first Cardiff letting agents to use Google Street View to showcase houses online.

Use in media

Cardiff, along with London, is one of the most-visited locations in the new series of Doctor Who, due to the programme being produced by BBC Wales there. The spin-off Torchwood is set exclusively in Wales, with all but one episode being mainly set in Cardiff.[130] In both programmes, a "time rift" transects the city, with specific focus on Roald Dahl Plass and the Wales Millennium Centre. In "Boom Town" and "Utopia", the rift's recent activity is used to fuel the TARDIS, while in Torchwood, the eponymous secret agency is based under the paving. Parts of "Gavin and Stacey", "The Worst Witch", "Tracy Beaker", "Merlin", and other popular television series are also filmed within Cardiff.

Cardiff was referenced by Tom Jones in the Tim Burton film Mars Attacks!,[131] and was the setting for several scenes in the film Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.[132] It is the setting for the 1999 film "Human Traffic".[133] Cardiff is also the birthplace of Dalek creator Terry Nation and popular children's author Roald Dahl, for whom the Roald Dahl Plass outside the Wales Millennium Centre is named.


The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff (Welsh: Stadiwm y Mileniwm),
on the bank of the River Taff
Inside the Millennium Stadium

Cardiff plays host to many high-profile sporting events at local, national and international level and in recognition of the city's commitment to sport for all Cardiff has been awarded the title of European City of Sport 2009.[134][135][136] Organised sports have been held in the city since the early 19th century.[137]


Cardiff Arms Park (Welsh: Parc yr Arfau Caerdydd), in central Cardiff, is among the world's most famous venues—being the scene of three Welsh Grand Slams in the 1970s (1971, 1976 and 1978) and six Five Nations titles in nine years—and was the venue for Wales' games in the 1991 Rugby World Cup.[138][139][140][141] The Arms Park has a sporting history dating back to at least the 1850s, when Cardiff Cricket Club (formed 1819) relocated to the site.[137] The ground was donated to Cardiff CC in 1867 by the Marquess of Bute. Cardiff Cricket Club shared the ground with Cardiff Rugby Football Club (founded 1876)—forming Cardiff Athletic Club between them—until 1966, when the cricket section moved to Sophia Gardens. Cardiff Athletic Club and the Welsh Rugby Union established two stadia on the site—Cardiff RFC played at their stadium at the northern end of the site, and the Wales national rugby union team played international matches at the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, which opened in 1970. The National Stadium was replaced by the 74,500 capacity Millennium Stadium (Welsh: Stadiwm y Mileniwm) in 1999—in time for the 1999 Rugby World Cup—and is home stadium to the Wales national rugby and football teams for international matches.[137][138][142][143] In addition to Wales' Six Nations Championship and other international games, the Millennium Stadium held four matches in the 2007 Rugby World Cup and six FA Cup finals (from the 2001–02 to 2005–06 seasons) while Wembley Stadium was being rebuilt.[139]

The Cardiff Blues (Welsh: Gleision Caerdydd)—one of Wales' four professional, regional, rugby union teams—compete in the Magners League (formally the Celtic League, this league includes teams from the Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales), the European Heineken Cup and the Anglo-Welsh EDF Energy Cup, which they won in the 2008–09 season.[144][145] The region played their home games at Cardiff Arms Park from their formation in 2003 until the end of the 2008–09 season, although some of their bigger games have been played at the Millennium Stadium. Cardiff Blues' new home is the Cardiff City Stadium, which is owned by Cardiff City F.C.[146] Two of Cardiff's rugby union club sides play in the Welsh Premier Division: Cardiff RFC, founded in 1876, will continue to play their games at their Cardiff Arms Park stadium; and Glamorgan Wanderers RFC (founded 1893) play in the western Cardiff suburb of Ely.[147] Other Cardiff based rugby union teams include UWIC RFC, (who play in WRU Division One East) and the WRU Division Three South East teams of Llandaff North RFC, Llanishen RFC and St. Peters RFC. Cardiff's rugby league team, the Cardiff Demons, play at St. Albans RFC's ground in Tremorfa, in the Rugby League Conference Welsh Premier league.

Cardiff City stadium during construction


Cardiff City F.C. (founded 1899 as Riverside FC) played their home games at Ninian Park from 1910 until the end of the 2008–09 season. The Bluebirds' (as Cardiff City are known) new home is the Cardiff City Stadium, which they rent to the Cardiff Blues. Cardiff City have played in the English Football League since the 1920–21 season, climbing to Division 1 after one season.[146][148][149] Cardiff City are the only non-English team to have won the The Football Association Challenge Cup, beating Arsenal in the 1927 final at Wembley Stadium.[149] The Bluebirds were runners up to Portsmouth in the 2008 final, losing 1–0 at the new Wembley Stadium.[150] Cardiff City currently play in the Football League Championship, the highest division of The Football League and second-highest division overall in the English football league system, after the Premier League.[151] Cardiff has numerous smaller clubs including Grange Harlequins A.F.C., UWIC Inter Cardiff F.C., Cardiff Corinthians F.C. and Ely Rangers A.F.C. who all play in the Welsh football league system.[152]


SWALEC Stadium

Glamorgan County Cricket Club have competed as a first class county since 1921. Their headquarters and ground is the SWALEC Stadium, Sophia Gardens, since moving from Cardiff Arms Park in 1966. The Sophia Gardens stadium underwent a multi-million pound improvement since being selected to host the first ‘England’ v Australia Test Match of the 2009 Ashes series.[137][144]


Cardiff has a long association with boxing, from 'Peerless' Jim Driscoll—born in Cardiff in 1880—to more recent, high profile fights staged in the city.[153] These include the WBC Lennox Lewis vs. Frank Bruno heavyweight championship fight at the Arms Park in 1993, and many of Joe Calzaghe's fights, between 2003 and 2007, including his victories over Mikkel Kessler—in the super middleweight reunification bout at the Millennium Stadium, Calzaghe retaining his WBO title and winning the WBA and WBC world titles from Kessler—and over Juan Carlos Giménez Ferreyra—retaining his WBO title at Cardiff Castle.[143][154]

International Sports Village

The 1958 Commonwealth Games were hosted by Cardiff. The Games involved 1,130 athletes from 35 national teams competing in 94 events.[155] One of the venues for those Games—The Wales Empire Swimming Pool—was demolished in 1998 to make way for the the Millennium Stadium. The GBP32m Cardiff International Pool in Cardiff Bay, opened to the public on 12 January 2008—part of the GBP1bn International Sports Village (ISV)—is the only Olympic-standard swimming pool in Wales. When complete, the ISV complex will provide Olympic standard facilities for sports including boxing and fencing, gymnastics, judo, white water events (including canoeing and kayaking) and wrestling as well as a snow dome with real snow for skiing and snowboarding, an Arena for public ice skating and ice hockey and an hotel.[156][157] Cardiff's professional ice hockey team, the Cardiff Devils, play in the temporary Cardiff Arena in the ISV. Some of the sports facilities at the ISV will be used as training venues for the London 2012 Olympics.[158]

Motor racing

A stage of Wales Rally GB, hosted inside the Millennium Stadium

The Millennium Stadium also hosts motorsport events such as the World Rally Championship, as part of Wales Rally GB. The first ever indoor special stages of the World Rally Championship were held at the Millennium Stadium in September 2005 and have been an annual event until 2008.[159] Speedway was staged at Cardiff's White City Greyhound Stadium from 1928 until World War II. The sport returned to the city in 1951, at a purpose built stadium in Penarth Road but the track closed mid season 1953. The team, known as the Cardiff Dragons, raced in the National League Division Three in 1951 and 1952 and in the Southern League in 1953. Speedway returned to the city in 2001, when the British Speedway Grand Prix, one of the World Championship events, moved in to the Millenium Stadium.[143] While the track—a temporary, purpose built, shale oval—is not universally loved, the venue is considered the best of the World Championship's 11 rounds.[160]


The Cardiff International Sports Stadium, opened 19 January 2009, replacing the Cardiff Athletics Stadium—demolished to make way for the Cardiff City Stadium—is a 4953 capacity, multi sport/special event venue, offering fully certificated international track and field athletics facilities, including an international standard external throws area.[161][162][163] The stadium houses the Headquarters of Welsh Athletics, the sport's governing body for Wales.[164] The city's indoor track and field athletics sports venue is the National Indoor Athletics Centre, an international athletics and multi sports centre at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff Campus, Cyncoed.[165]


Cardiff is host to two Yacht Clubs:

  • Cardiff Yacht Club (CYC) (founded 1900) has a clubhouse in Butetown, Cardiff Bay, complete with moorings, a pontoon system and a slipway for launching dinghies. CYC organise events, including yachting, dinghy sailing, dragon boat race, fishing and angling competitions, in the freshwater Cardiff Bay, in the Severn and on the 'high seas'.
  • Cardiff Bay Yacht Club (CBYC) (founded 1932) was originally founded as Penarth Motor Boat and Sailing Club, but changed to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club in 1999. The club sits within Cardiff's International Sports Village and boats an extensive pontoon system, moorings and two slipways. Activities include yacht racing, Yacht Crusiig, dinghy sailing, dinghy racing and fishing

Royal Yachting Association recognised training is provided through a number of Training establishments around the city, with the notable ones being:

  • Llanishen Sailing Centre, a local authority run facility which has been providing RYA training in Cardiff for almost 30 years[166]
  • Cardiff Bay Yacht Club's Training Centre, which offers tuition to both club members & the public.


Maindy Pool (top left)
and Cycle Track

The Maindy Centre (Welsh: Canolfan Maendy) includes a cycle track and indoor swimming pool facility in Maindy. The cycle track was another of the venues used in the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the swimming pool opened in 1993.[168][169]


Cardiff is the one of the centres of British Baseball and hosts the annual Wales vs England international game every other year, usually at Roath Park, although the 2008 game—marking the centenary of the fixture between the two countries—was held in Llanrumney. Wales won the encounter again, having not lost to England, home or away, since 1995.[170][171]


The Cardiff Celts basketball team (formed 1964) compete in the English Basketball League, Division 1. The Celts play their home games at the Welsh Institute of Sport.[172][173]

Other venues

Welsh Institute of Sport (Welsh: Athrofa Chwaraeon Cymru), Sophia Gardens

The Welsh Institute of Sport (Welsh: Athrofa Chwaraeon Cymru) was established in 1972 to provide facilities to help develop excellence in Welsh sport. The institute has indoor sports halls, next to Glamorgan CCC's SWALEC Stadium in Sophia Gardens. Sports activities in the Main Hall include gymnastics, table tennis, trampoline, badminton, netball, basketball, archery, martial arts, fencing, dance and boxing. The site also contains squash courts and weight training rooms. Outdoors, the Institute has an international standard permeable artificial pitch, which is one of the home international venues for Welsh hockey. The pitch is also used for lacrosse and football. Their outdoor tennis courts are also used for netball and five-a-side football. Welsh national teams that train at the Welsh Institute of Sport include the Welsh National Rugby team (on the Institute's full-size, floodlit rugby pitch), Welsh National Badminton team, the Womans Welsh National Netball Team and the Welsh National Gymnastic Team.[174][175][176]

Gôl is Wales' first purpose built 5 a side football centre. Based in Canton, there are ten floodlit outdoor 5-a-side courts and one 7-a-side pitch, all using artificial 'Soccer turf'—designed to play and feel like grass.[177][178]

The Ski & Snowboard Centre Cardiff, Fairwater—managed by the Ski Council of Wales—consists of a floodlit 100 metres (328 ft) dry ski slope, with an overhead poma ski lift and lubrication roller, to ensure good skiing and snowboarding conditions—even in dry weather.[179]

Ely Racecourse was a major horse racing venue in Ely, Cardiff, pulling in crowds of 40,000 or more for events such as the Welsh Grand National—first held at Ely in 1895. Ely Racecourse closed on 27 April 1939, the last race being won by Keith Piggott (father of Lester) on Dunbarney.[180]

The Millennium Stadium has been selected as one of the football venues for the London 2012 Olympics, according to Chairman of the Organising Committee, Lord Coe.[181]

Notable people

Many notable people have hailed from Cardiff, ranging from historical figures such as the 12th century Welsh leader Ifor Bach and the 17th century pirate Henry Morgan to more recent figures such as Roald Dahl, Ken Follett, Griff Rhys Jones and the former Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones. In particular, the city has been home to many sports stars such as Tanni Grey-Thompson and Colin Jackson as well as many Premier League, Football League and international footballers, such as Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur), Craig Bellamy (Manchester City), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Terry Yorath (Leeds United), and the current manager of the Wales national football team John Toshack (Liverpool).

Cardiff is also well-known for its musicians such as Ivor Novello, after whom the Ivor Novello Awards are named. Shirley Bassey is familiar to many as the singer of three James Bond movie theme tunes, whilst Charlotte Church is famous as a crossover classical/pop singer, and Shakin' Stevens was one of the top selling male artists in the UK during the 1980s. A number of Cardiff-based bands, such as Catatonia and Super Furry Animals were popular during the 1990s.


Cardiff is the major transport hub in Wales and is the focus for many arterial road and rail routes that connect the city with the rest of Wales, and with England.


The A4232 road at Queen's Gate Tunnel

The M4 is the principal motorway in the region that connects Cardiff with Bridgend, Swansea and Carmarthen to the west, and Newport, Bristol, Swindon, Reading and London to the east. Cardiff is served by junctions 30 to 33 inclusive of the M4, plus junction 29a leading onto the A48(M). The A470 is another major road within the city that provides an important link with the Heads of the Valleys road, Mid and North Wales. The A4232 (also known as the Peripheral Distributor Road or PDR) when completed, will form part of the Cardiff ring-road system along with the M4 motorway between junctions 30 and 33.[182] There are several road and rail bridges that cross the River Taff in Cardiff. These include the Clarence Road Bridge, a comparatively modern bridge which replaced a swing bridge. The original bridge was named after the Duke of Clarence.

As with many other cities car traffic has caused congestion problems and as such the council has designated bus lanes to improve transport into and out of the city centre. The council has also revealed plans to introduce congestion charging, as in London, but only once there has been significant investment in the city's public transport network.[183]

Much of Cardiff's central shopping zone is pedestrianised, and further pedestrianisation is planned as part of the current St David's 2 regeneration scheme. As part of these plans, St Mary Street has been closed to private vehicles since 2007 with only buses and taxis permitted to use it, with a possible view to fully pedestrianise the road. This has proven controversial with many traders calling for it to be re-opened, but popular with shoppers.[184]


Cardiff Central railway station, through which over nine million passengers a year pass.

Cardiff Central railway station is the largest railway station in Wales with seven platforms, and one of the busiest in the UK.[185] It provides direct services to nearby Bridgend and Newport, and other major cities such as Bristol, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton, Portsmouth, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as serving as an interchange for services from South West Wales. There is also a regular shuttle service to Holyhead (for ferries to Ireland) and Wrexham in North Wales.

Cardiff Queen Street railway station is the second busiest in Wales and is the hub for routes via the Valley Lines services that connect the South Wales valleys and the Cardiff suburbs with the city centre. It is located at the eastern end of the city centre, and also provides services to Cardiff Bay.

Cardiff has a suburban rail system known as Valley Lines, which is operated by Arriva Trains Wales. There are eight lines which serve 20 stations in the city, 26 in the wider urban area (including Taffs Well, Penarth and Dinas Powys) and more than 60 in the South Wales valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan.[186]

Network Rail is currently proposing adding an extra two platforms to both Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street station, and installing a light rail metro system in the city.[187]


Cardiff has a comprehensive bus network, with municipal bus company Cardiff Bus providing the vast majority of routes in the city and to Newport, Penarth, Barry, Cardiff International Airport and Llantwit Major. Veolia Transport Cymru and Stagecoach in South Wales also provide services in the city. Cardiff Bus has introduced "bendy buses" on the 17 and 18 routes to Canton, Ely and Caerau and on the Cardiff Bay route. Its hub is Cardiff Central Bus Station. National Express provides direct services to other major cities, as well as to Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil. Megabus operates frequent discounted services to London, and to Newcastle upon Tyne via Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds

Cardiff Bus operates the Free b service, a free shuttle bus that circles the city centre every 10 minutes, linking major bus and rail interchanges, as well as the stops of the four Park and Ride services.

Park and ride

There are four Park and Ride sites in Cardiff, one each in the north, south, east and west of the city.


Domestic and international air links to Cardiff and South & West Wales are provided from Cardiff Airport (CWL), the only international airport in Wales. The airport is situated in the village of Rhoose, 10 miles (16 km) west of the city. There are regular bus services linking the airport with the Cardiff Central Bus Station as well as a train service from Rhoose Cardiff International Airport railway station to Cardiff Central.


Two waterbus firms operate half-hourly services along the River Taff from Bute Park in the city centre to Cardiff Bay and onwards to Penarth. Throughout the summer (March to October), boats also depart from Cardiff Bay to take visitors to Flat Holm Island. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral sail from Britannia Quay (in Roath Basin) to various destinations in the Bristol Channel.


The Taff Trail is a walking and cycle path running for 55 miles (88.5 km) between Cardiff Bay and Brecon in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It runs through Bute Park, Sophia Gardens and many other green areas within Cardiff. It is possible to cycle the entire distance of the Trail almost completely off-road, as it largely follows the River Taff and many of the old disused railways of the Glamorganshire valleys. On Sundays in summer the Beacons Bike Bus enables cyclists to take their bikes into the Beacons and then ride back to Cardiff along the Trail.

A cycle hire system, similar to those in other large cities, launched in September 2009, and includes 70 bikes and 35 hire points (initially 7) around the centre and the south of the city. The current stations are: Central Station; Cardiff Bay Station; County Hall; Cardiff Bay Visitors’ Centre; Churchill Way; City Hall and eastern Queen Street. It is necessary to register before using bike. The first half an hour is free after which a small hourly fee is payable.[188][189]


Cardiff University's main building

Cardiff is home to four major institutions of higher education: Cardiff University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Glamorgan and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

Cardiff University was founded by Royal Charter in 1883 as the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire,[190] is a "red brick" university and member of the Russell Group of leading research led universities, having most of its campus in Cathays and the city centre. University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) gained university status in 1997 and has campuses in the Llandaff, Cyncoed and City Centre areas. The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is a conservatoire established in 1949 and is based in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The University of Glamorgan's Cardiff campus, Atrium, is home to the Cardiff School of Creative & Cultural Industries and is located in the city centre.

The total number of higher education students in the city is around 43,900.[191][192] The city also has two further education colleges: Coleg Glan Hafren and St. David's College, although further education is offered at most high schools in the city.

The new Cardiff Central Library

Cardiff has 86 state primary schools (two bilingual, ten Welsh medium), 11 infant schools, ten junior schools and 20 state secondary schools, of which two are Welsh medium.[193] There are also a number of independent schools in the city, including St John's College, Cardiff, Llandaff Cathedral School, Kings Monkton and Howell's School, a single-sex girls' school (until sixth form). Notable schools include Whitchurch High School (the largest in Wales),[194] Fitzalan High School (which is one of the most multi-cultural state schools in the UK),[195] and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf, which is the largest Welsh medium secondary in the country.

As well as academic institutions, Cardiff is also home to other educational and learning organisations such as Techniquest, a hands-on science discovery centre that now has franchises throughout Wales, and is part of the Wales Gene Park in collaboration with Cardiff University, NHS Wales and the Welsh Development Agency (WDA).[196] Cardiff is also home of the largest regional office of the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). This office is home to the organisation's curriculum and assessment centre, which is responsible for overseeing the creation and grading of various IBDP assessments.


There are seven NHS hospitals in the city, the largest of which is the University Hospital of Wales. The University Hospital of Wales is the third largest hospital in the UK and deals with most accidents and emergencies.[197] The University Dental Hospital, which provides emergency dental treatment, is also located on this site. Llandough Hospital is located in the south of the city.

The city's newest hospital, St. David's Hospital (built behind the former building) is located in the Canton area and provides services for the elderly and children. Cardiff Royal Infirmary is located on Newport Road, near the city centre. The majority of this hospital was closed in 1999 but with the West Wing remaining open for clinic services, genitourinary medicine and rehabilitation treatment. Rookwood Hospital and Whitchurch Hospital are also located within the city, along with Rookwood Hospital and Velindre Cancer Centre. All hospitals in Cardiff are administered by the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board,[198] with the exception of the Velindre site which is run by a separate trust.[199] In addition Spire has a private hospital in the city which is located in Pentwyn.[200]

International relations

Cardiff has twinning arrangements with:[201]

A total of twenty-eight countries have a diplomatic presence in Cardiff.[202] Many of these nations, such as Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, Thailand and the Czech Republic are represented by honorary consulates. The British Embassy of the United States operates a satellite office.[203][204][205][206][207][208][209][210]


029 is the current telephone dialling code for Cardiff, which is followed by eight digit local numbers. The code includes the neighbouring towns of Penarth, Dinas Powys and Caerphilly.

Prior to the Big Number Change on 22 April 2000, the area had the code 01222 with shorter, six digit local numbers. Prior to May 1995, the code was 0222. There remains a common misconception that the code is 02920 due to all local numbers beginning with 20 for a short period after the renumbering. Newly-issued batches of numbers begin with 21.

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External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Wales Millennium Centre, the focal point of the revamped Cardiff Bay.
Wales Millennium Centre, the focal point of the revamped Cardiff Bay.

Cardiff (Welsh, Caerdydd) is the capital of Wales in the United Kingdom and is located in the south of the country. Though it had a reputation of being a rough, industrial city, Cardiff has changed dramatically in recent years. It is now a lively and modern capital city, gaining popularity with tourists interested in its history and culture. Once overlooked, it is now one of the United Kingdom's tourism hot spots. Summer is by far the best time to visit, as many of the attractions are outdoors. Its population is roughly 350,000, with 1.5 million living within 20 miles of the city.


Cardiff is on the south coast of the south Wales plain, with a shoreline on the Bristol Channel. Cardiff is quite a flat city, a characteristic that helped it become one of the world's leading ports in the transport of coal from the rugged south Wales Valleys.


Cardiff's city centre is located in the southern portion of the city just north of Cardiff Bay. It is traditionally bounded by the historic civic centre, castle, park and university buildings to the north by the River Taff to the west, and by the Valleys and South Wales rail lines to the east and south. Growth in recent years however is pushing the city centre beyond these boundaries, especially in regards to commercial office provision.


The site at Cardiff castle has been occupied for over 2000 years. Originally a Roman fort, the castle and surrounding village evolved and in Norman times the existing motte and bailey tower was constructed. The town continued to grow at a slow but steady pace for hundreds of years until the arrival of the industrial revolution and the rise of coal. Cardiff became a major coal exporting port, and was at a time the largest coal exporting port in the world. The period from 1800 therefore saw phenomenal growth in the population and economy of Cardiff. The city was proclaimed a city in 1905, and then made capital city of Wales in 1955. Given that it was always historically smaller than towns such as Merthyr and Swansea it has achieved a meteoric rise to become the capital city today.

High Steet, Cardiff
High Steet, Cardiff

Cardiff has always had a strong sporting and cultural presence given that it is the capital city, and therefore plays host to most Welsh sporting events, especially since the opening of the Millennium Stadium. In fact one of the city's charms is when it plays host to matches and the atmosphere can be extraordinary.

However, in the past, it was quite a gritty and industrial city with manufacturing and industry playing a huge role, Cardiff's ports were once the most important in the world. Notable milestones were when Cardiff Bay was the first area of modern Britain to be thought of as a multicultural area given the huge part immigrants played in the city's ports, and the world's first 'million pound' deal was also signed at the Bay's own Coal Exchange building.

In recent years, however, the city has moved away from its industrial past and has been enriched by such developments as the cultural Cardiff Bay barrage area, which now hosts famous and striking landmarks, such as the National Assembly for Wales and the spectacular Wales Millennium Centre building. Massive investments have also been made throughout other parts of the city, such as the opening of the Millennium Stadium.

When to go

Cardiff is best to visit during late spring to early autumn as the warm weather adds to the city's pleasures and allows maximum experience of all the sites and areas of the city, as most of the attractions are outdoor oriented.

Get in

By plane

The main airport is Cardiff International Airport. This is the only major airport in Wales and is situated some 12 miles to the south-west of the city in the Vale of Glamorgan. The airport is served by a number of airlines including low-cost bmibaby [1] which operates a number of domestic and foreign destinations and other airlines including Flybe [2], KLM [3], Thomsonfly [4] and Skybus [5]. Domestic services operate daily to Anglesey, Belfast, Newcastle, Newquay, Jersey, Glasgow and Edinburgh. As for European routes, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Dublin, and many other holiday routes such as Faro, Palma de Mallorca and Alicante, operate daily.

Car parks serving Cardiff Airport
Address On/Off Airport Distance / Transfer Time Security Park Mark®
Additional Information Clients Retain Car Keys
Days Inn Cardiff
Port Road
Vale of Glamorgan
CF62 3BT
1 mile / 5 minutes
CCTV, security fencing, floodlighting and 24-hour security patrols.
No minibuses or high-sided vehicles are accepted.
Highwayman Parking
Highwayman Security Park
Fonman Rhoose
South Glamorgan
CF62 3BH
0.3 miles / 7 minutes
24-hour CCTV coverage, floodlighting, razor-wire security fencing, guard dogs and airport security patrols every 15 minutes.
Trailers are permitted, but will be charged for an extra space.
NCP Long Stay Car Park
Cardiff International Airport
CF62 3BD
0.4 miles / walking distance
CCTV, perimeter fencing, automated entry/exit barriers and security patrols.
Trailers are not permitted.
Cardiff Short Stay
Cardiff International Airport
CF62 3BD
CCTV, perimeter fencing, automated entry/exit barriers and security patrols and disabled access
Trailers are not permitted.
Cardiff Long Stay
Cardiff International Airport
CF62 3BD
CCTV, perimeter fencing, automated entry/exit barriers and security patrols and disabled access
Trailers are not permitted.


By train

Cardiff Central railway station is a major hub for many services and is in an ideal location being very close to the main city centre attractions and is in close proximity to Cardiff Bay. Arriva Trains Wales [6] operate the vast majority of inter-Wales services with regular departures from Cardiff Central to the South Wales Valleys, Swansea, and a frequent service to North Wales. They also operate regularly to Manchester and Birmingham making Cardiff ideal to visit via rail. All inter-city travel is via Cardiff Central while Cardiff Queen Street station located near the eastern end of the city centre is the hub for Cardiff's Valley Lines services, connecting the centre of the city with the suburbs and commuter towns. Both stations are controlled by ticket barriers, so you will need a ticket to enter or leave the platforms. Ticket machines are located in the entrance of both stations and in Central station there are many maps that will help you plan your journey.

Cardiff Central is two hours from London Paddington by train, however some may take longer with more stops. Trains depart half hourly during the day and are operated by First Great Western [7]. These services also continue hourly to Swansea. First Great Western run a service from Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour via Newport, Bristol, Bath and Southampton.

Rail service provides quick and easy links to other interesting areas (such as the Vale of Glamorgan and West Wales), making Cardiff a pleasant and cheaper place to use as a home base while exploring the surrounding areas.

The city itself has around 22 train stations located within its boundaries, with travel to North Cardiff especially accessible, however, it is usually cheaper and quicker to fly to Anglesey direct from Cardiff with Highland Airways. Travel to tourist attractions such as Cardiff Bay, Castell Coch and Barry Island can be easily and cost effectively reached by train.

By car

From London and the South East of England, Cardiff is most swiftly reached by taking the M4 motorway west across the Severn Bridge and into Wales. Journey times from Central London to Cardiff are usually 3 hours, although visitors from Heathrow could shave up to an hour off this time. Don't forget the bridge charges a toll to cross (cash only)! This is £5.40 at the moment for a car and usually increases by 10p each year. The M4 is also the main artery linking Cardiff with West Wales including Swansea, while the A470 road mainly links Cardiff with the South Wales Valleys. Traveling from North or Central England and Scotland the M50 links the M5 motorway with Wales and continues down to south Wales eventually linking with the M4. Cardiff's junctions are 29 - 34 inclusive.

Within Cardiff, it is cheaper to find a train station and continue onto the city centre via train, as car parking within the city, although plentiful, can be notoriously expensive. However, getting around the city in car is pretty simple, and even within the city centre, it is quite easy moving around; although, it's best to restrict entering the city centre area during off-peak times as congestion can occur quite readily. Generally though, the city centre is pretty compact and its much easier and cheaper to move around on foot.

See [8] for a list of Cardiff City Council operated car parks.

By bus

National Express [9] operate regular services to and from most other major cities in Britain with Cardiff Central bus station, which is located in the forecourt of Central railway station, making it quite easy to switch between train and bus. In addition, MegaBus offer a regular and very cheap service to London and departs from Cardiff Castle.

Queen Street, Cardiff
Queen Street, Cardiff

Cardiff, especially the central area, is pretty compact with the main attractions being quite close to each other making getting around on foot quite easy. Most sights are signposted to help you guide your way around the city centre and the bay.

By bus

Cardiff Bus [10] offer a comprehensive network of services across the city, to the nearby City of Newport and to destinations in the Vale of Glamorgan. Fares could be seen as a little exorbitant given the unreliability of some of their services, however effective from the 5th April 2009, Cardiff Bus have introduced a far simpler flat rate of £1.50 for all single adult journeys within the Cardiff City boundary, which goes someway to clear up the confusion of their previous fare zonal system. That said, On the plus side you won't have to wait any more than around 10 minutes for a bus to turn up. Some of their services run even more frequently usually around every 7/8mins (Monday-Saturday) on services to the east of the city. The central bus station is located in Central Square, in the forecourt of Central railway station, and maps are readily available that will help you plan your journey. A 'Day to Go' ticket costs just £3 and offers unlimited travel in the Cardiff area (including Penarth, Dinas Powys, Llandough, Sully and Wenvoe) all day. Cardiff Bus also operate a frequent 'Baycar' service between the city centre and Cardiff Bay, which makes it easy to get between the main attractions, and is good value if you don't want to walk. Stagecoach in South Wales, Veolia Transport Cymru and First Cymru also offer regular routes in and around Cardiff and South East Wales. Open top sightseeing buses operate regularly during the summer season at a price of approximately £8/person.

There are also park and ride sites based at County Hall and Crown Way, see National Park and Ride Directory [11]

By train

It can be quite cost-effective, quick, and easy to visit areas with a local train station, such as Llandaff Cathedral or Penarth Pier as services leave from both Cardiff Central or Queen St stations so check on maps for train services, if you'd rather this than the bus. The wider Cardiff metropolitan area (including Penarth, Taffs Well, Pontypridd and Dinas Powys) contains 26 stations, making train travel a viable alternative in many cases.

By taxi

Cardiff is not short of taxis. They can be flagged down on the street or booked in advance:

  • Capital Tel: +44 (0)29 2077 7777
  • Delta Tel: +44 (0)29 2020 2020
  • Celtic Tel: +44 (0)29 2045 2045
  • Dragon Metro Tel: +44 (0)29 2033 3333

Although a lot of taxis in the city centre are black, they have no set colour. Licensed taxis have a yellow plate on the rear bumper of the vehicle.

By waterbus

For a different experience, the River Taff Waterbus runs regularly during the summer season between the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Bay. Tickets cost around £4 and are available to buy online.

Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle
  • Cardiff Castle [12], Castle Street. tel: +44 (0)29 2087 8100. fax: +44 (0)29 2023 1417. Cardiff Castle is a large castle whose foundations are based upon a Roman fort. In the nineteenth century, it was the one of the homes of the Marquis of Bute. The Norman fort in the centre, the Welsh regimental museum and and excavated Roman ruins are open, and tours of the Bute household are available. The Bute part of the castle is quite amazing. The interior was all done in the early 1900's in a very idiosyncratic and interesting style. There is barely an inch that is not adorned with some sort of artistic work. Yet, it is not overwhelming. The craftsmanship is well worth a look. Admission is £8.95 for adults, £6.35 for children and £7.50 for students and seniors. Admission with a tour is £11.95 for adults, £8.50 for children, and £9.95 for students and seniors. There are family group discounts.
  • The Millennium Stadium [13] - 74,200 seater stadium opened for the 1999 Rugby World Cup, and now host to the Wales national rugby and football teams. It hosted the FA Cup Final for some years during the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium in London. A must see for anyone, tours are available online or at the ticket desk.
  • The Wales Millennium Centre [14], a great piece of modern architecture, opened in 2004 by the Queen, the futuristic Wales Millennium Centre is host to a opera, dance and musicals throughout the year, making it a must see for those who like Welsh theatre. Entry is free throughout the year. While entrance to the theatre is charged free live performances take place in the foyer every lunchtime.
  • The National Assembly for Wales or the Senedd [15] (Cardiff Bay) is the seat of Wales' national government and was opened on St David's Day (1st March) 2006 by the Queen. Visitors have a chance to see public debates from the viewing gallery or a free tour around the building, which is made out of purely Welsh materials, and how it is designed eco-friendly. Entry is free.
Cardiff bay
Cardiff bay
  • The Norwegian Church (Cardiff Bay, next to the Assembly) was first established in Cardiff Bay to serve the large community of Norwegian sailors working in the docks. Its main claim to fame is as the place where the author Roald Dahl was christened, but today it is a cafe and art gallery.
  • Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre also known as the Tube is home to displays and exhibitions on the development of Cardiff Bay as the world's largest port. Entry is free.
  • The Doctor Who Exhibition[16] (Cardiff Bay), is operated out of the Red Dragon centre. This exhibition boasts various props and displays of the series, as well as a guide to the various locations in the Cardiff and Wales areas that were used as filming locations for the BBC's series Torchwood.
  • Llandaff Cathedral is situated in the ancient 'city of Llandaff' and is one of the oldest religious sites in Europe. The cathedral dates from 1107 and features some spectacular architecture.
  • Castell Coch [17] meaning the 'Red Castle' in Welsh is a fairytale castle nestled on a hill in the outskirts of the city. Built for the 3rd Marquis of Bute, who was at one time the richest man in the world.
  • City Hall the domed roof of City Hall is one of the landmarks of Cardiff city centre. Dating from the turn of the century, it is built of beautiful white Portland stone. Inside, the marble hall is dominated by statues of Welsh heroes.
  • Bute Park A very large and beautiful park in the centre of the city, adjoining the city centre at Cardiff castle.
  • The Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans [18], free admission. Tel: +44 (0)29 2057 3500. Great for kids. Also features one of the most beautiful gardens in Wales.
  • National Museum & Gallery of Wales [19], free admission. Cathays Park, Tel: +44 (0)29 2039 7951. An excellent collection of paintings from all periods (strong on Impressionists), plus archaeological and geological exhibits, cafes and shops. Buy parking vouchers here if needed.
  • The Cardiff Museum shows how Cardiff has developed from a small town into the capital of Wales. The museum will occupy the old library site in the city centre, which currently hosts large exhibitions focusing on themes of the city's history such as sports, industry, immigration or the arts.
  • Techniquest [20] (Cardiff Bay, near the Millennium Centre) has over 160 science and technology exhibits to entertain the whole family. There is also a Science Theatre and tours of the Universe in the Planetarium. Entry: £7.00 Adults, £5.00 children with concessions available for groups. Tel.: +44 (0)29 2047-5475.
  • Relax in Bute Park or in the grounds of the castle, for a break from the hustle of the city centre.
  • Visit Cardiff Bay a truly cosmopolitan experience full of restaurants, bars and cafes. A really good place for a 'passeggiata' on a Sunday afternoon. Boat rides in the Bay (permanently water-filled since the barrage was built), a few shops, and a children's playground at the far end (near the historic Norwegian church) along with beautiful views across to Penarth.
  • At near-by Penarth, cruise the Bristol channel during summer months to the likes of North Devon, Gower Peninsula and even occasionally Pembrokeshire on the paddle steamers Balmoral and Waverly. Penarth to Ilfracombe is particularly spectacular, taking in the massive cliffs of North Devon.
  • Go on the Taff Trail, some of the sights close to the city centre are breathtaking and the tranquility offers a great contrast to the busy city centre.
  • Go to the Brecon Beacons. Just 40 minutes from Cardiff, this Welsh National Park is a scenic retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, offering activities such as climbing, paragliding, sailing and many more.
  • Go for a pint of Cardiff made Brains beer in one of the city centre pubs on a match day at the Millennium Stadium.

Festivals and Events

Cardiff's festivals are increasingly contributing to its development as a major tourist attraction. As most of them are concentrated in the summer months, it is ideal to visit then to make sure that you experience all the attractions and the festivals as an added bonus. Unlike Edinburgh, Cardiff is still pretty cost effective during the summer months so its ideal for those who don't want to go all out!

  • Cardiff Children's Festival is held in the grounds of Cardiff Castle each year, and hosts a number of events, exhibitions and play areas for children. Entry is usually free.
  • Cardiff Mela inaugural mela was held last year at city hall, but not really anything spectacular but in coming years is expected to develop.
  • St David's Day Parade an unofficial parade held on St David's Day the patron saint of Wales (March 1st), every year. Something different so its worth a look.
  • The Big Weekend is probably the most participated of Cardiff's festivals as hundreds of thousands of people dawn the city hall area to witness the carnival theme events and fun fair atmosphere. Usually on last weekend of July.
  • Cardiff Mardi Gras is one of the UK's biggest gay and lesbian festivals, held every year in the grounds of Cardiff Castle.
  • Metro Weekender 2007 will be the second year this new festival has visited Cardiff. Held in Coopers field beside the castle grounds on the August bank holiday, it was a 20,000 sell out in 2006
  • Winter Wonderland in December/January sees an outdoor ice-rink and funfair set up in front of City Hall, open early 'til late to the public.

Cinemas and Theatres

Cardiff has some of the best theatre and cinema in Wales and even across the UK, covering huge range including mainstream films, foreign and theatre.

  • St. David's Hall (city centre) - orchestral concerts, recitals and other live music and comedy
  • Chapter Arts Centre (Canton) - arthouse and alternative cinema
  • Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff Bay) - Opera and ballet, West End Shows and musicals
  • New Theatre - here you can see west end shows
  • Sherman Theatre - an independent theatre
  • Odeon Cardiff Bay - mainstream multiplex cinema
  • Vue Central Square (inside Millennium Plaza and next to Millennium Stadium)
  • Cineworld - mainstream multiplex cinema, across the road from Cardiff Internation Arena (CIA).


The Cardiff International Arena plays host to major bands and artists throughout the year. More information can be found at [21].

Look out for events at the Millennium Stadium too.

Smaller gigs can be seen at many venues across the city including Barfly, The Point, Callaghans, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff Students Union, and Buffalo Bar.

More 'sedate' concerts are frequently held at St Davids Hall and The Welsh Millennium Centre.

Victorian Shopping Arcade
Victorian Shopping Arcade

The Victorian arcades are worth a visit in themselves. They have lots of little shops, food markets, etc. Up-market home stores include Melin Tregynt (blankets, cushions and trinkets), and Banana Custard (for kids).

Queen St is the major pedestrianised shopping street, which is a five block shopping district that is closed to cars, so it is easy to walk from shop to shop. All the usual suspects, such as Marks and Spencer, Boots, Virgin, Topshop, etc. are here.

The Hayes was peaceful area with more smaller shops, however, is currently under development with the St Davids 2 Shopping Area. The Hayes still has access to all the arcades and other side streets.

The Central market is a must for anyone looking for a find whether it be arts and crafts or food.

  • Queen Street and St. Mary's Street are the main shopping streets in Cardiff city centre. Queen Street houses the likes of Marks and Spencer, Boots and many other stores while the adjoining shopping malls contain other stores including Debenhams and other shops. St. Marys Street is home to a large 'Howells' or House of Fraser store and backs onto numerous arcades that house one-off shops and they are a must see.
  • There are many tourist oriented shops in front of the Castle and inside the Arcades so have a look around where you can find many Welsh souvenirs and gifts there.
  • Fish from Ashton's stall in the atmospheric indoor market, off the Hayes, Church Street or St Mary St.
  • from Canale's on Llandaf Road in Canton.
  • Cheese from Madame Fromage in the Castle Arcade.
  • Records, tapes and CDs from Spiller's Records, The Hayes, claimed to be the "world's oldest record store". This is the place to buy your Welsh music.


Things are getting better in Cardiff for eating. It can be very difficult to book a table in the better restaurants on a Friday or Saturday evening. As a rule of thumb Mermaid Quay and the city centre are jam packed full with a varied contrast of eateries allowing you to experience many different tastes within a small area.


There are lots of little Mom and Pop eateries with reasonable, plentiful and quite tasty takes on the Full English breakfast, sandwiches, fish and chips, etc.

Also, there is the Brewery Quarter, which contains a few well known and different restaurants including Cardiff's Hard Rock Café.

Vegetarians and vegans should head to Crumbs in Morgan Arcade for a great range of veggie and vegan food.

  • The Prince of Wales - a great city centre location offering great food all day at some good prices considering its very central location. This is a typical Wetherspoon pub.
  • Canteen on Clifton Street has built up a reputation for excellent vegetarian and vegan food at very reasonable prices. Their evening menu [22]changes every two weeks, with regular 'best of' menus chosen by their customers. [23] A good selection of vegan wines are available. [24] Only 10 minutes walk from the city centre. The No.12 Cardiff Bus passes their door. Closed Sunday and Monday.Tel: +44 (0)29 2045-4999.
  • Garland's Eatery and Coffee House, 4 Duke Street Arcade, Tel: "+44 (0)29" 2066-6914. This nice little restaurant has good prices for authentic Welsh fare and other sandwiches and cheap eats. The Cardiff native I stayed with recommended it.
  • Brazz, Bute Pl, (Cardiff Bay), Tel: +44 (0)29 2045-9000. This restaurant serves good food, and is a stylish place to sit.
  • Cibo Italian Café, 83 Pontcanna Street (at the non-city-centre end of Cathedral Road), Tel: +44 (0)29 2023-2226. Great little café-restaurant with superb food. Can get busy, booking strongly recommended. Expect to spend about £8-12 for a main course.
  • Ichiban, 201 Cowbridge Rd E, Tel: +44 (0)29 2066-8833. This is a wonderful Japanese restaurant offering excellent value noodle, curry and sushi dishes. There is one on Cowbridge Road, Canton and another on Albany Road, Roath. Both are a short bus or taxi ride from the city centre, or a 20-30 minute walk.
  • Tenkaichi, 236 City Rd, Tel: +44 (0)78 3142-1199. Tenkaichi offers authentic Japanese food with a British flare. It is a great restaurant if you want fresh noodles and sushi. It also provides an extensive wine list.
  • The Goat Major, 33 High Street, Tel: +44 (0)29 2033-7161. This pub has some very good bar style food in an authentic Welsh atmosphere. Try the Welsh faggots (a type of meat ball) in peppercorn gravy.
  • Castell Restaurant, The Angel Hotel, Castle Street, Tel: +44 (0)29 2064-9200. This restaurant has amazing views of the castle grounds, and serves traditional Welsh cuisine. The restaurant also caters for private parties.
  • The Armless Dragon, 97 Wyeverne Road, Tel: +44 (0)29 2038-2357. The Armless Dragon offers diners contemporary Welsh dishes, using only locally grown produce according to the seasons. The staff is fluent in both Welsh and English.
  • Benedictos, 4 Windsor Place, Tel: +44 (0)29 2025-5376. This restaurant has been serving international cuisine for the past 30 years. Benedictos has two floors, serving intimate dinners as well as private parties.
  • Le Gallois, 6-10 Romilly Cres, Tel: +44 (0)29 2034-1264. Roughly translated from French it means "The Welsh". This is a fantastic gourmet restaurant specialising in bringing Gallic flair to traditional Welsh food such as cockles and lavabread. Expect to pay somewhere around £40/person.
  • Café Mao, 90 Whitchurch Rd, Tel: +44 (0)29 2039-8433. This cafe is worth seeking out. Very good quality sandwiches for similar prices elsewhere.
  • City Canteen & Bar, 1-2 Mount Stuart Square, Tel: +44 (0)29 2033-1020. City Canteen & Bar is a trendy bar. One can order a light lunch from the bar menu while listening to local DJs play music.


Cardiff is one of top nights out in Britain with many late night pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants. In the city centre, St Mary street, Greyfriars road and Mill Lane are especially lively and offer a variety of establishments to suit all tastes. Mermaid Quay is a lively, albeit smaller option to spend a warm summer night.

Cardiff is a place to drink, favoured by Stag and Hen Parties from all over the UK. St Mary St contains many pubs and clubs and becomes wild and exciting on Friday and Saturday nights. There are numerous clubs only a block short walk from Central Station that are bumping into the wee hours. An extensive venue and events list, including gigs and live bands can be found at What's on in Cardiff guide.

For a quieter drink, seek out:

  • Cardiff Cottage 25 St. Mary Street, +44 (0)29 2033-7195. (except weekends and matchdays).
  • Floyd's, 23 High Street, above the clothing store, +44 (0)29 2022-2181.
  • The Old Arcade, 14 Church Street, +44 (0)29 2021-7999.

If coffee is your drink of choice, there are at least six Starbucks outlets or try out Coffee #1 a local chain of coffee shops, Wood Street (near Central Station) and on Albany Road.

  • Y Mochyn Du, Sophia Close CF11, 029 20371599, [25]. Y Mochyn Du is located in Sophia Gardens, Pontcanna, by the Institute of Sport and Glamorgan's county cricket ground. One half is a traditional pub which has a good range of real ales, and the other side is mainly for bar food during the day. Due to it's location near the city centre, it's very busy during rugby and football internationals. The pub is also popular among the capital's sizable Welsh speaking community and all the bar staff are bilingual. On Monday nights, there is usually a group of around 10 session musicians jamming with traditional instruments. On the last Sunday night of every month, there is a Welsh language pub quiz in association with Menter Caerdydd.  edit


Bear in mind it can be very difficult to find rooms available or within a sensible price when the Millennium Stadium is hosting events, especially when Wales play in rugby or football, so plan around the dates or plan early as it will be much cheaper.

  • Wedal Road Youth Hostel, 2 Wedal Road, Roath Park, Tel: +44 (0)84 5371-9311, [26] - for £19 (adult without YHA membership) it's the cheapest place to stay and really quite funky (for a Youth Hostel): no curfew, modern, clean, friendly personnel, and a sumptuous breakfast is included; it's about a 20 minute walk from the city centre, or 10 minutes by bus. There are three other hostels in the city including Nos Da, Cardiff Backpackers and Nomad.
  • Cardiff Marriott Hotel, Mill Ln, Tel: +44 (0)29 2039-9944, [27] is located within a block of the train station, right across from at least ten clubs. It has reasonably comfortable rooms (not yet with the Marriott upgraded beds). They have high speed internet connections in the rooms, but the fee is £15/day for the service. The staff is friendly and helpful. Also, they have a small multi-storey car park for the hotels guest.
  • Express By Holiday Inn Cardiff Bay, Longuiel Close, Tel: +44 (0)29 2044-9000, [28]. Clean hotel in Cardiff Bay, 15 minutes walk from the centre.
  • Holiday Inn Cardiff Central, Castle Street, Tel: +44 (0)87 0400-8140. Just minutes from most attractions in the city centre.
  • Lincoln House Hotel, Cathedral Road, Tel: +44 (0)29 2039-5558, [29]. Traditional converted townhouse on the outskirts of Cardiff city centre.
  • Cardiff Hilton 1 Kingsway, Tel: +44 (0)29 2064-6300. This is the place for more upmarket stays. Situated right in front of the castle and offers nice views of the civic centre.
  • Mercure Holland House Hotel and Spa - Redcliffe Hill, Tel: +44 (0)11 7968-9900. A contemporary hotel located just opposite the main shopping street. It has an acclaimed restaurant and spa. Formerly owned by the MacDonald group, it was bought by Mercure in 2007 (part of the Accor group).
  • St. David's Hotel and Spa - Havannah Street, Tel: +44 (0)29 2045-4045. A really great stay for those who want that little bit extra. Fronting the bay it offers spectacular scenery and is little more than 5 minutes away from the cosmopolitan bay area. Built and originally operated by the Rocco Forte Group, it was sold in 2006 to the Principal Hayley Group.


Cardiff is home to around 30,000 students studying in various colleges and universities across the city.

Cardiff University
Cardiff University
  • Cardiff University [30] Wales' highest ranked university.
  • UWIC [31] Self styled Cardiff Metropolitan University.
  • Glamorgan University [32] Wales' second largest university has a large new campus in Cardiff city centre focusing on the media, broadcasting and the creative industries.
  • Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama [33] is a university focusing on music and drama.

Stay safe

Cardiff is quite a safe city, and certainly safer than some other major cities in the UK. However, Cardiff has some of the highest car theft crime rates in the United Kingdom. Make sure you remove all valuables from your vehicle, especially from show. Do not park outside the city centre or Cardiff bay, unless you know the area. Cardiff doesn't seem to be plagued with a prominent red light district, a kin to many of the similar sized cities in England. However areas such as Ocean Way, adjacent to the magic roundabout may be wise to avoid in the nights and early evenings in Winter, as the area is known for prostitution. Anyone caught curb crawling is likely to be stopped and questioned by police, although more often than not you can just be expected to be told to move on.

Alcohol related violence is not uncommon in Cardiff, especially on the weekends and often on rugby/football match days in its clubs and bars concentrated around St Mary's Street and Greyfriars Rd, so take extra caution to avoid offending anyone. In addition, as in any city, there are areas to avoid after dark: these include Bute Town, Bute Park and Riverside.

  • The Vale of Glamorgan to the southwest of Cardiff contains the Victorian seaside towns of Penarth and Barry. Cowbridge is a picturesque town to the west.
  • The superb Glamorgan Heritage Coast is around 10 miles west of Cardiff, stretching from Llantwit Major to Ogmore-by-Sea, the majestic liassic/carboniferous cliffs provide sparkling views across the Bristol channel, and the small little back roads (particularly the road to ogmore-by-sea) provide some of the most spectacular driving routes in Wales.
  • Try taking the train to Newport, and then a bus to Caerleon and visiting the Roman amphitheatre there. It is quite well preserved and gives a real feel for how the Romans would have used the space.
  • It is possible to visit Hereford as a day trip, using either train or auto.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CARDIFF, a city, municipal, county and parliamentary borough, seaport and market-town, and the county town of Glamorganshire, South Wales, situated on the Taff, 5 m. above its outflow, 1454 m. from London by the Great Western railway via Badminton, 402 m. W. of Bristol and 451m. E.S.E. of Swansea. Cardiff is also the terminus of both the Taff Vale and the Rhymney railways, the latter affording the London & North-Western railway access to the town. The Barry line from Barry dock joins the Great Western and Taff Vale railways at Cardiff, and the Cardiff Railway Company (which owns all the docks) has a line from Pontypridd via Llanishen to the docks. The Glamorganshire canal, opened in 1794, runs from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil, with a branch to Aberdare. The increase of the population of Cardiff during the 19th century was phenomenal; from 1870 inhabitants in 180r, and 6187 in 1831 it grew to 3 2 ,954 in 1861. The borough, which originally comprised only the parishes of St John's and St Mary's, was in 1875 and 1895 extended so as to include Roath and a large part of Llandaff, known as Canton, on the right of the Taff. The whole area was united as one civil parish in 1903, and the population in 1901 was 16 4,333, of whom only about 8% spoke Welsh.

Probably no town in the kingdom has a nobler group of public buildings than those in Cathays Park, which also commands a view of the castle ramparts and the old keep. On opposite sides of a fine avenue are the assize courts and new town hall (with municipal offices), which are both in the Renaissance style. The Glamorgan county council has also a site of one acre in the park for offices.

The University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, founded in 1883, under the principalship of J. Viriamu Jones, for some time carried on its work in temporary buildings, pending the erection of the commodious and imposing building from the plans of Mr W. D. Carne, in Cathays Park, where the registry of the university of Wales (of which the college is a constituent) is also situated. The Drapers' Company has given £15,50o towards building a library, in addition to previous donations to the engineering department and the scholarship fund of the college. The college has departments for arts, pure and applied science and technology, medicine, public health, music, and for the training of men and women teachers for elementary and secondary schools. Its library includes the Salesbury collection of books relating to Wales. Aberdare Hall is a hostel for the women students. The Baptist theological college of Pontypool was removed to Cardiff in 1895.

The public library and museum were founded in 1863, but in 1882 were removed to a new building which was enlarged in 1896. The library is especially rich in books and MSS. relating to Wales and in Celtic literature generally. These comprise the Welsh portion of the MSS. which belonged to Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middlehill (including the Book of Aneurin - one of the "Four ancient books of Wales"), purchased for £3500. A catalogue of the printed books in the Welsh department, which soon became a standard work of reference, was published in 1898, while a calendar of the Welsh MSS. was issued by the Historical MSS. Commission in 1903. There are six branch libraries, while a scheme of school libraries has been in operation since 1899. The chief features of the museum are collections of the fossils, birds and flora of Wales and of obsolete Welsh domestic appliances, casts of the pre-Norman monuments of Wales, and reproductions of metal and ivory work illustrating various periods of art and civilization. There is also a unique collection of Swansea and Nantgarw china. The fine arts department contains twenty-seven oil paintings by modern English and continental artists bequeathed by William Menelaus of Dowlais in 1883, the Pyke-Thompson collection of about roo water-colour paintings presented in 5899, and some 3000 prints and drawings relating to Wales. In 1905 Cardiff was selected by a privy council committee to be the site of a state-aided national museum for Wales, the whole contents of the museum and art gallery, together with a site in Cathays Park, having been offered by the corporation for the purpose. A charter providing for its government was granted on the 59th of March 5907. In Cathays Park there is also a "gorsedd" or bardic circle of huge monoliths erected in connexion with the eisteddfod of 1899.

The other public buildings of the town include the infirmary founded in 1837, the present buildings being erected in 1883, and subsequently enlarged; the sanatorium, the seamen's hospital, the South Wales Institute of Mining Engineers (which has a library) built in 1894, the exchange, an institute for the blind, a school for the deaf and dumb, and one of the two prisons for the county (the other being at Swansea). There are a technical school, an intermediate school for boys and another for girls, a "higher-grade" and a pupil teachers' school. A musical festival is held triennially.

In the business part the buildings are also for the most part imposing and the thoroughfares spacious, while the chief suburban streets are planted with trees. The Taff is spanned by two bridges, one a four-arched bridge rebuilt in 1858-1859 leading to Llandaff, and the other a cantilever with a central swinging span of 190 ft. 8 in.

In virtue of its being the shire-town, Cardiff acquired in 1535 the right to send one representative to parliament, which it did until 1832, from which date Cowbridge and Llantrisant have been joined with it as contributory boroughs returning one member. The great sessions for the county were during their whole existence from 1542 to 1830 held at Cardiff, but the assizes (which replaced them) have since then been held at Swansea and Cardiff alternately, as also are the quarter sessions for Glamorgan. The borough has a separate commission of the peace, having a stipendiary magistrate since 1858. It was granted a separate court of quarter sessions in 1890, it was constituted a county borough in 1888, and, by letters patent dated the 28th of October 1905, it was created a city and the dignity of lord mayor conferred on its chief magistrate. The corporation consists of ten aldermen and thirty councillors, and the area of the municipal borough is 8408 acres.

Under powers secured in 1884, the town obtains its chief water supply from a gathering ground near the sources of the Taff on the old red sandstone beyond the northern out-crop of the mineral basin and on the southern slopes of the Brecknock Beacons. Here two reservoirs of a combined capacity of 668 million gallons have been constructed, and a conduit some 36 m. long laid to Cardiff at a total cost of about £1,250,000. A third reservoir is authorized. A gas company, first incorporated in 1837, supplies the city as well as Llandaff and Penarth with gas, but the corporation also supplies electric power both for lighting and working the tramways, which were purchased from a private company in 1898. The city owned in 1905 about 290 acres of parks and "open spaces," the chief being Roath Park of Too acres (including a botanical garden of 15 acres), Llandaff fields of 70 acres, and Cathays Park of 60 acres, which was acquired in 1900 mainly with the view of placing in it the chief public buildings of the town.

Commerce and Industries

Edward II.'s charter of 1324 indicates that Cardiff ha ,d become even then a trading and shipping centre of some importance. It enjoyed a brief existence as a staple town from 1327 to 1332. During the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. it was notorious as a resort of pirates, while some of the ironfounders of the district were suspected of secretly supplying Spain with ordnance. It was for centuries a "head port," its limits extending from Chepstow to Llanelly; in the 18th century it sank to the position of "a creek" of the port of Bristol, but about 1840 it was made independent, its limits for customs' purposes being defined as from the Rumney estuary to Nash Point, so that technically the "port of Cardiff" includes Barry and Penarth as well as Cardiff proper. Down to the end of the 18th century there was only a primitive quay on the river side for shipping purposes. Coal was brought down from the hills on the backs of mules, and iron carried in two-ton wagons. In 1798 the first dock (12 acres in extent) was constructed at the terminus of the Glamorgan canal from Merthyr. The commercial greatness of Cardiff is due to the vast coal and iron deposits of the country drained by the Taff and Rhymney, between whose outlets the town is situated. But a great impetus to its development was given by the 2nd marquess of Bute, who has often been described as the second founder of Cardiff. In 1830 he obtained the first act for the construction of a dock, which (now known as the West Bute dock) was opened in 1839 and measures (with its basin) DAacres. The opening of the Taff Vale railway in 1840 and of the South Wales railway to Cardiff in 1850 necessitated further accommodation, and the trustees of the marquess (who died in 1848) began in 1851 and opened in 1855 the East Bute dock and basin measuring 464 acres. The Rhymney railway to Cardiff was completed in 1858 and the trade of the port so vastly increased that the shipment of coal and coke went up from 4562 tons in 1839 to 1,796,000 tons in 1860. In 1864 the Bute trustees unsuccessfully sought powers for constructing three additional docks to cost two millions sterling, but under the more limited powers granted in 1866, the Roath basin (12 acres) was opened in 1874, and (under a substituted act of 1882) the Roath dock (33 acres) was opened in 1887. All these docks were constructed by the Bute family at a cost approaching three millions sterling. Still they fell far short of the requirements of the district for in 1865 the Taff Vale Railway Company opened a dock of 26 acres under the headland at Penarth, while in 1884 a group of colliery owners, dissatisfied with their treatment at Cardiff, obtained powers to construct docks at Barry which are now 114 acres in extent. The Bute trustees in 1885 acquired the Glamorgan canal and its dock, and in the following year obtained an act for vesting their various docks and the canal in a company now known as the Cardiff Railway Company. The South Bute dock of 502 acres, authorized in 1894 and capable of accommodating the largest vessels afloat, was opened in 1907, bringing the whole dock area of Cardiff (including timber ponds) to about 210 acres. There are also ten private graving and floating docks and one public graving dock. There is ample equipment of fixed and movable staiths and cranes of various sizes up to 70 tons, the Lewis-Hunter patent cranes being largely used for shipping coal owing to their minimizing the breakage of coal and securing its even distribution. The landing of foreign cattle is permitted by the Board of Trade, and there are cattle lairs and abattoirs near the Cardiff wharf. The total exports of the Cardiff docks in 1906 amounted to 8,767,502 tons, of which 8, 433, 629 tons were coal, coke and patent fuel, 151,912 were iron and steel and their manufactures, and 181,076 tons of general merchandise. What Cardiff lacks is a corresponding import trade, for its imports in 1906 amounted to only 2,108,133 tons, of which the chief items were iron ore (8 9 5,610 tons), pit-wood (303,407), grain and flour (298,197). Taking "the port of Cardiff" in its technical sense as including Barry and Penarth, it is the first port in the kingdom for shipping cleared to foreign countries and British possessions, second in the kingdom for its timber imports, and first in the world for shipment of coal.

The east moors, stretching towards the outlet of the Rhymney river, have become an important metallurgical quarter. Copper works were established here in 1866, followed long after by tinstamping and enamel works. In 1888 the Dowlais Iron Company (now Messrs Guest, Keen & Nettlefold, Ltd.) acquired here some ninety acres on which were built four blast furnaces and six Siemens' smelting furnaces. There are also in the city several large grain mills and breweries, a biscuit factory, wire and hemp roperies, fuel works, general foundries and engineering works. At Ely, 32 m. out of Cardiff, there are also breweries, a small tin works and large paper works. The newspapers of Cardiff include two weeklies, the Cardiff Times and Weekly Mail, founded in 1857 and 1870 respectively, two morning dailies, the South Wales Daily News and Western Mail, established in 1872 and 1869 respectively, and two evening dailies.

History and Historic Buildings

In documents of the first half of the 12th century the name is variously spelt as Kairdif, Cairti and Kardid. The Welsh form of the name, Caerdydd (pronounced Caerdeeth, with the accent on the second syllable) suggests that the name means "the fort of (Aulus ?) Didius," rather than Caer Daf ("the fortress on the Taff"), which is nowhere found (except in Leland), though Caer Dyv once existed as a variant. No traces have been found of any pre-Roman settlement at Cardiff. Excavations carried out by the marquess of Bute from 188 9 onward furnished for the first time conclusive proof that Cardiff had been a Roman station, and also revealed the sequence of changes which it had subsequently undergone. There was first, on the site occupied by the present castle, a camp of about ten acres, probably constructed after the conquest of the Silures A.D. 75-77, so as to command the passage of the Taff, which was here crossed by the Via Maritima running from Gloucester to St David's. In later Roman times there were added a series of polygonal bastions, of the type found at Caerwent. To this period also belongs the massive rampart, over o ft. thick, and the north gateway, one of the most perfect Roman gateways in Great Britain. After the departure of the Romans the walls became ruinous or were partly pulled down, perhaps by sea rovers from the north. In this period of anarchy the native princes of Glamorgan had their principal demesne, not at the camp but a mile to the north at Llystalybont, now merely a thatched farmhouse, while some Saxon invaders threw up within the camp a large moated mound on which the Normans about the beginning of the 12th century built the great shellkeep which is practically all that remains of their original castle. Its builder was probably Robert, earl of Gloucester, who also built Bristol castle. Then or possibly even earlier the old rampart was for two-thirds of its circuit buried under enormous earthworks, the remainder being rebuilt. It was in the keep, and not, as tradition says, in the much later "Black Tower" (also called "Duke Robert's Tower"), that Robert, duke of Normandy, was imprisoned by order of his brother Henry I. from 11°8 until his death in 1134. Considerable additions of later date, in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, are due to the Despensers and to Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, while the present residential part is of various dates ranging from the 15th century down to the last half of the r 9th, when a thorough restoration, including the addition of a superbly ornamented clock-tower, was carried out. The original ditch, about 20 yds. wide, still exists on three sides, but it is now converted into a "feeder" for the docks and canal. Geoffrey of Monmouth was at one time chaplain of the castle, where he probably wrote some of his works. The scene of the "sparrow-hawk" tournament, described in Geraint and Enid, one of the Arthurian romances, is laid at Cardiff.

On the conquest of the district by the Normans under Fitz Hamon, Cardiff became the caput of the seigniory of Glamorgan, and the castle the residence of its lords. The castle and lordship descended by heirship, male and female, through the families of De Clare, Despenser, Beauchamp and Neville to Richard III., on whose fall they escheated to the Crown, and were granted later, first to Jasper Tudor, and finally by Edward VI. in 1550 to Sir William Herbert, afterwards created Baron Herbert of Cardiff and earl of Pembroke. Through the daughter and granddaughter of the 7th earl the castle and estates became the property of the 1st marquess of Bute (who was created Baron Cardiff in 1776), to whose direct descendant they now belong.

The town received its earliest known grant of municipal privileges sometime before 1147 from Fitz Hamon's successor and son-in-law Robert, earl of Gloucester. In 1284 the inhabitants petitioned the burgesses of Hereford for a certified copy of the customs of the latter town, and these furnished a model for the later demands of the growing community at Cardiff from its lords, while Cardiff in turn furnished the model for the Glamorgan towns such as Neath and Kenfig. In 1324 Edward II. granted a number of exemptions to Cardiff and other towns in South Wales, and this grant was confirmed by Edward III. in 1359, Henry IV. in 1400, Henry VI. in 1452, and Edward IV. in 1465.

Its most important early charter was that granted in 1340 by Hugh le Despenser, whereby the burgesses acquired the right to nominate persons from whom the constable of the castle should select a bailiff and other officers, two ancient fairs, held on the 29th of June and ,9th of September, were confirmed, and extensive trading privileges were granted, including the right to form a merchant gild. A charter granted in 1421 by Richard de Beauchamp provided that the town should be governed by twelve elected aldermen, but that the constable of the castle should be mayor. In 1581 Queen Elizabeth granted a confirmatory charter to the mayor and bailiffs direct without reference to the lord of the castle. The town was treated as a borough by prescription until 1608, when James I. confirmed its status by express incorporation, adding also to its rights of self-government, and granting it a third fair (on the 30th of November). In 1687 the town surrendered this charter to James II., who in a substituted one, which, however, was never acted upon, reserved to the Crown the right of removing any member of the corporation from office. The first step towards the modern improvement of the town was taken in 1774, when a special act was obtained for the purpose. Nineteen private acts and provisional orders were obtained during the 19t11 century. Among the many early English kings who visited or passed through Cardiff was Henry II., on whom in 1171, outside St Piran's chapel (which has long since disappeared), was urged the duty of Sunday observance. About 1153, Ivor Bach (or the Little), a neighbouring Welsh chieftain, seized the castle and for a time held William, earl of Gloucester, and the countess prisoners in the hills. In 1404 Owen Glendower burnt the town, except the quarters of the Friars Minors. In 1645, after the battle of Naseby, Charles I. visited the town, which until then had been mainly Royalist, but about a month later was taken by the Parliamentarians. In 1648, a week after the Royalists had been decisively defeated by Colonel Horton at St Fagan's, 4 m. west of Cardiff, Cromwell passed through the town on his way to Pembroke.

Outside the north-west angle of the castle, Richard de Clare in 1256 founded a Dominican priory, which was burnt by Glendower in 1404. Though rebuilt, the building fell into decay after the Dissolution. The site was excavated in 1887. Outside the north-east angle a Franciscan friary was founded in 1280 by Gilbert de Clare,which at the Dissolution became the residence of a branch of the Herbert family. Its site was explored in 1896. The only other building of historic interest is the church of St John the Baptist, which is in the Perpendicular style, its fine tower having been built about 1443 by Hart, who also built the towers of Wrexham and St Stephen's, Bristol. In the Herbert chapel is a fine altar tomb of two brothers of the family. A sculptured stone reredos by W. Goscombe John was erected in 1896. The original church of St Mary's, at the mouth of the river, was swept away by a tidal wave in 1607: Wordsworth took this as a subject for a sonnet.

In 1555 Rawlins White, a fisherman, was burnt at Cardiff for his Protestantism, and in 1679 two Catholic priests were executed for recusancy. Cardiff was the birthplace of Christopher Love (b. 1618), Puritan author, and of William Erbury, sometime vicar of St Mary's in the town, who, with his curate, Walter Cradock,were among the founders of Welsh nonconformity.

As to Roman Cardiff see articles by J. Ward in the Archaeologia for 1901 (vol. lvii.), and in Archaeologia Cambrensis for 1908. As to the castle and the Black and Gray Friars see Archaeologia Cambrensis, 3rd series, viii. 251 (reprinted in Clark's Medieval Military Architecture), 5th series, vi. 97; vii. 283; xvii. 55; 6th series, i. 69. The charters of Cardiff and "Materials for a History of the County Borough from the Earliest Times" were published by order of the corporation in Cardiff Records (5 vols., 1898, sqq.). See also a Handbook of Cardiff and District, prepared for the use of the British Association, 1891; Cardiff, an Illustrated Handbook, 1896; the Annual Report of the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce; the Calendar of the University College. (D. LL. T.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Welsh caer (fort) + Taf ((River) Taff) = fortified city on the River Taff

Proper noun

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  1. The capital city of Wales

Derived terms



  • 2003, A. D. Mills, A Dictionary of British Place-Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198527586


Proper noun


  1. Cardiff (capital of Wales)

Simple English


A city train in Cardiff Central railway station

Cardiff is the capital and biggest city of Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Its name in the Welsh language is Caerdydd. 325,000 people live in Cardiff. It is the most important city in Wales for tourism, culture, government, sport, transport, nightlife and business.

Cardiff has a big port that used to be known as Tiger Bay, now just called Cardiff Bay, where the Welsh government works and now there are lots of shops, pubs and restaurants. Cardiff has an international airport, and is twinned with Nantes in France and Stuttgart in Germany. Cardiff has one of the largest stadiums in the United Kingdom, the Millennium Stadium, where important world sports matches and concerts happen. Other big stadiums in the city are the Cardiff City Stadium, where the main football and rugby teams play, and the SWALEC Stadium where cricket is played.

To get around, there are lots of bus routes and train lines in the city. There are two big train stations in Cardiff city centre, called Central station and Queen Street station, but there are also 18 other smaller stations in the city for local areas. There are lots of cycle paths in Cardiff on and off the road.

Three big rivers flow through Cardiff - the Taff, the Ely and the Rhymney.

Part of Cardiff is built on marshland.

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