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Cardiff For Newbies

Cardiff is hosting the 2017 UEFA Champions League final on 3 June. Although the city is overshadowed by the likes of Britain’s most popular destinations, namely London, Manchester and Liverpool, Cardiff, an ancient Roman fortification, is currently experiencing a moment of splendour. Indeed, it has a plethora of allurements to warrant you visiting the city, whether or not your team is due to file onto the pitch at the Millennium Stadium. In the following we reveal the most iconic spots in the Welsh capital.

Cardiff Bay
This is one of the city’s nerve centres and the economic driving force behind its development in the early 20th century. However, when the coal trade slipped into decline, the Cardiff docks turned into a derelict, forsaken precinct. In the 1990s, the Cardiff Council decided to revive Cardiff Bay, converting it into an area open to the public. It is now the favourite haunts of many a Cardiffian and is one of the most attractive areas in the city, boasting some of the best leisure and gastronomic amenities.

Llandaff Cathedral
One of the most emblematic examples of religious architecture in Wales. Built in the 13th century, Llandaff Cathedral is a huge, mesmerising Gothic construction, although some corners reveal vestiges of the Norman and later periods, notably the stunning “Christ” modelled by the American sculptor, Jacob Epstein, which hangs in the central nave. For those interested in paranormal phenomena, Llandaff Cathedral has spawned all manner of ghost stories, to the extent that they now run a “Ghost Tour” on which visitors are shown the spots where ghost sightings have taken place. Interestingly, not far from the Cathedral lies Llandaff Cathedral School, where Roald Dahl studied.

Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle
is a must-visit spot for all newcomers to the city, just as the Colosseum is in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Built on the site of a former Roman fortification, its origins go back to the 11th century. Although much of the original structure is still intact, in the 19th century the Marquess of Bute commissioned the architect, William Burges, to undertake extensive remodelling works, based on the Victorian and Neogothic precepts in vogue at the time, which turned the castle into one of the most opulent contemporary constructions.

Cardiff City Hall
Flanked by Cardiff Crown Court and the National Museum of Cardiff stands Cardiff City Hall, one of the most stunningly beautiful buildings in the city. Built in the early 20th century, even its exterior features extraordinary architectural beauty in the purity of its white limestone facings. However, don’t let its formidable appearance stop you from going inside. You can double check in reception, but usually you can visit all the rooms you find open. If you’re in luck, you will be treated to such sights as the Marble Hall with its collection of sculptures of illustrious figures from Welsh history, the Assembly Room and the Council Chamber.

National Museum of Cardiff
Next door to the Cardiff City Hall is the National Museum of Cardiff, the most important museum in the city. Like the neighbouring Cardiff Crown Court and Cardiff City Hall, this is a stunning Edwardian building on which construction began in 1912. Building work was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I and could not be completed until 1927. Admission is free (like virtually all British museums) and the interior houses a variety of exhibitions, ranging from different natural science disciplines to art – the highlight is their collection of Impressionist paintings, featuring such geniuses as Van Gogh, Monet and Cézanne.

Wales Millennium Centre
At the entrance to Cardiff Bay you will come across the Wales Millennium Centre, home to the Welsh National Opera. Opened in 1912, this modern building presents elements in slate, metal, wood and glass, all sourced in Wales. Inscribed above the main entrance are two poetic lines, written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis. The first, in Welsh, reads “Creating Truth Like Glass From Inspiration's Furnace” and the second, in English, reads “In These Stones Horizons Sing”. Housed in the interior is the Donald Gordon Theatre, with a seating capacity of 1,900, and two adjoining rooms, which host opera recitals and extravaganzas, symphonic orchestras, ballet, theatre and contemporary music throughout the year.

Techniquest is the largest museum of science, technology and knowledge in the United Kingdom. Located on Stuart Street, a stone’s throw from Cardiff Bay, it stands out for its characteristic glass and steel structure. Striking a balance between education and entertainment, Techniquest is home to permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as a theatre which hosts various science-oriented events, a planetarium and a centre of knowledge and technology dedicated to educating visitors in scientific principles through playful experiments.

Y Mochyn Du
After so much sightseeing, you will need to replenish your energy at some stage. And, where better to do so than in a typical Welsh pub? None comes more highly recommended than Y Muchyn Du (Black Pig, in Welsh). It lies some 20 minutes from the city centre, right at the entrance to Sophia Gardens and alongside the city’s main cricket stadium. However, once you get there, you will realise your journey has been worth it – walls plastered in rugby memorabilia, a Welsh-speaking clientele, traditional Welsh cuisine and a good assortment of local beers. In short, one of those venues that breathes authenticity.

The Backdrop for the Final
Football will be king on 3 June, but the National Stadium of Wales, also known as the Millennium Stadium, is one of the great temples of rugby, a sport about which the Welsh are passionate. The pride of Cardiff, the stadium was built in 1999 in time for the Rugby World Cup, and was the venue for the opening ceremony, the first and the last game, when Australia took the honours. With a seating capacity of 74,500, it is one of the world’s largest stadiums with a retractable roof, as well as one of the most striking and architecturally elegant anywhere on earth. Home to the Welsh rugby and football national teams, it is here that the new champion of European football clubs will be crowned.

Text by Oriol Rodríguez

Images by John Greenaway, David Ip, Michel Curi, John Mason, Jon Candy



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The Best Pubs in Cardiff to Enjoy St Patrick’s Day

Although the epicentre of festivities is located in Ireland, St Patrick is celebrated as their own in many cities the world over. At any pub in the world which marks this festivity you can find four-leaf clovers, caps or pastries… the sky’s the limit when it comes to tingeing any object or food with green to mark the popular event. So green are the pubs on St Patrick’s Day that they look like the living-room of a leprechaun, those tiny, pipe-smoking gnome-like beings wearing a striking, tall hat and holding some gold coins in their hands. Now a pot of gold is said to be found at the end of a rainbow, so be alert on the big day because, if you spot one of them, he might lead you to his treasure. Leprechauns are also reported to pinch people who are not wearing green, so watch your step!

The Origin of Saint Patrick

Some legends hold that St Patrick was born in the mining village of Banwen in the Dulais Valley, some 40 kilometres from Cardiff. The inhabitants of that village lost no time in putting up a sign in honour of the saint on the ancient Roman road and claiming it to be his birthplace. Of course, the Irish totally reject that story. They do, however, agree that he died on 17 March 461 and his feast is celebrated with joyful festivities and spectacular parades throughout the day.

Pubs: an Irish Idiosyncrasy

Don’t be fooled – one of the main activities on St Patrick’s Day is having a few pints at the local pub. This is taken so seriously that, while the daily average of Guinness consumption in the world is 5.5 million pints, on St Patrick’s Day this figure climbs to 13 million pints. St Patrick’s is a perfect day for touring the pubs and beer houses of Cardiff. Please follow us!

1- The Finest Welsh Cuisine at Y Mochyn Du (The Black Pig)
Sophia Close, Cathedral Road

Surely one of the best pubs in Cardiff. Regarded as one of the finest in the United Kingdom, it was named Best Pub of the Year in 2007. Its staff is particularly helpful and efficient and they provide a vast array of beers, including many local varieties. Their homemade food is good, too, and includes such typical Welsh dishes as laverbread. Based on algae, this traditional recipe was once dubbed “the Welsh caviar” by no less than Richard Burton. And, weather permitting, what better way to while a few hours drinking in their glassed-in area, or in the garden.

2- The Largest Selection of Beers at Urban Tap House
25 Westgate Street

Sited in an erstwhile fire station, Urban Tap House is not a typical Welsh pub in the historical sense. Instead, this is a modern brick building comprising five large saloons distributed on two floors which features a colossal selection of home-brewed beers and ciders. They rotate weekly between a total of 15 handpumps and have fridges crammed with an assortment of beers from all over the world. This is the Mecca of all good beer-lovers, and of gastronomes, too. Their selection of hamburgers and generous helpings are also among the best in the city, as well as being the ideal companion to a good pint.

3- The City Arms – the Sports-Lovers Pub
10-12 Quay Street

This charming pub located in the heart of Cardiff serves fine-quality beer, notably Welsh, classical, wheat-based and fruit beers. City Arms is frequented by both lovers of the malted elixir and sports enthusiasts who flock here to quaff their favourite drink while watching sporting events on plasma screens, engrossed in lively conversation. It was chosen as the city’s best pub in 2012.

4- The Pen & Wig and its Fantastic Terrace
1 Park Grove

A traditional pub with a modern touch and an incredible terrace. The Pen & Wig sources its beer from local production and its selection varies from time to time. With a full-blown kitchen, it also offers tasty dishes crafted from the city’s freshest produce.

5- Dempsey’s Irish Bar –The Castle Pub
15, Castle Street

If you happen to be visiting the famous castle, one of the city’s icons, you can’t fail to miss this delightful Irish pub located immediately opposite the main entrance. It features live music and fun-packed nightlife – the ideal spot to have some typical Guinness or Harp Lager and to soak up all its Gaelic essence.

Go for it! Check out our prices here!

Text by Scanner FM

Image by Bkkbrad

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Cardiff Capital of the Land of Castles

It is a little known fact that Wales has the largest number of castles of any country in Europe. Indeed, the landscape of this small country situated west of England has been peppered with countless fortresses throughout its history, from the Iron Age to Roman times and, subsequently, the majestic castles of the Welsh princes and English monarchs.

In all, over 600 castles are still standing in Wales, so you are very likely to come across some of them when you travel there. There are castles of all types to be seen, so we have curated a selection of those that impressed us most during our trip there.

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle and the walls of the town of Conwy are among the best preserved examples of medieval architecture in the United Kingdom, which accounts for it being a World Heritage Site. However, it is hard to believe that it took only four years to build – from 1283 to 1287. It is quite an experience to climb up the towers and wander through the various quarters. Our guide challenged us to go up the main tower and, after viewing the splendid surroundings from there, hazard a guess as to how the Welsh could have seized the castle from the English in the 15th century. Would you be up to the challenge?

Denbigh Castle

Built between 1282 and 1295, the best way to approach a tour of this castle is to start in the new visitor centre inside the site. The great gatehouse entrance to Denbigh Castle is really impressive as it is triple-towered, the standout feature of this castle, although it is not as well preserved as other Welsh strongholds. Even so, it is a unique defence work which managed to withstand the assault of the parliamentary troops, who set out to raze it to the ground during the English Civil War in 1660. One of the most exciting moments was when we slipped through the postern gate – a mysterious back entrance through which the castle’s dwellers could get in and out without being seen. The fortress was clearly designed with a marked aesthetic sense – the towers follow a pattern in which circular-based towers alternate with square-based ones.

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle was one of the last medieval castles to be built in England and Wales. Even today it is a stunning sight – bear in mind that it was designed to be comfortable and luxurious, more in line with Renaissance tastes. It was exhilarating to climb up the Great Tower, set on an island surrounded by a moat. We also explored the newly restored underground crypt. We were told that some of Europe’s finest wines were stored there and brought out to impress guests at the head table. The castle still enjoys a well-earned reputation and is the ideal backdrop for staging events relating to theatre, poetry, song and dance.

Kidwelly Castle

Kidwelly is the prototype of the castles shown in medieval films. It is set on a steep slope and ringed by numerous towers, high walls and a huge entrance gatehouse which took no less than a century to complete. Kidwelly is the oldest example of a Norman defence work made of wood and earth. What remains of its ground plan is semi-circular. A rewarding experience is to walk on the remains of the wall. Granted, the gate is the most prominent feature of the castle, but the chapel on the opposite side is also well worth visiting and it affords spectacular views over the river. The interior houses an exhibition hall – the Sculpture Cymru is on display there until September.

Caerphilly Castle

This enormous construction is the largest castle in Wales. Preserved virtually intact, it would make the perfect backdrop for a film of knights and princesses. As expected, it is surrounded by a number of moats set in concentric circles, some with islets included. Be sure to go up to the terrace on top of the entrance tower. From there you can see the defensive rings of stone and water which rendered Caerphilly an impregnable fortress. This elaborate castle also has a secret passageway, known as the Broase Gallery. From here you can spy the south-east tower, reminiscent of the tower of Pisa for obvious reasons. Also on display are some powerful siege engines.

Come on then – get going and check out our flights here.


Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Fred Selby, vanessajayne, Visit Wales


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Pettigrew Tea Rooms

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Pettigrew Tea Rooms, the best tea room in Cardiff. Are you walking by the wonderful Bute Park and it’s the moment for a tea? Here’s your place, just at the entrance of the park. Sit down to a tea, Victorian-style and served in ancient china crockery as if a manor of lords it were, and accompany a good piece of cake.

Although located in the heart of the city, the place is a haven of peace, perfect to relax for its unbeatable location and great views over the park. In Pettigrew Tea Rooms can eat the best carrot cake ever you could try, without neglecting the chocolate cake and almonds or any of their other delicious varieties. And if you’re not very fond of sweet, try one of their sandwiches.

Why not take a trip to Cardiff? Have a look at our flights here!


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