Cardiff, Wales: Wikis


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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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