|Beneath it is a superb "heritage" coastline offering Blue Flag beaches, wild cliffs and dramatic mountain views.
West is the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan and to the east lies lush countryside.|
Within easy reach of the city are some of Wales' most fascinating villages and a host of towns dating back into the mists of time.
It played such a pivotal role in the wars between the Normans and the native Welsh that it now claims to have the largest
concentration of castles of any European city.
The Norman Robert FitzHamon built the picturesque castle as a defensive structure. William the Conqueror's eldest son, Duke Robert of Normandy, was held within its sturdy walls until his death in 1134.
Its splendid apartments were created in the 19th century by eccentric architect William Burges for the wealthy Third Marquess of Bute. The Museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales is also housed here.
|Legend has it that the knight Lancelot set sail from Cardiff as he escaped the wrath of a cuckolded King Arthur. |
Gradually a town began to develop but its modern form dates from the Industrial Revolution following the construction of Cardiff's sprawling docks, the 25-mile Glamorganshire Canal and the arrival of the railway.
The 2nd Marquess of Bute built the canal to bring huge coal reserves from Merthyr Tydfil to the docks, transforming the town into the world's biggest coal exporting port. The Taff Vale Railway eventually replaced the barges and enabled new docks to be built.
|In less than an hour you can reach the wilds of the Brecon Beacons, walk along the South Wales
"Heritage Coastline" or explore the
many castles, great houses and a variety of other attractions. |
Forest Fawr, for example, is an ancient woodland linked to the Disneyesque Victorian folly of Castell Coch (the ‘Red Castle’).
Five miles from Cardiff lies the tiny island of Flat Holm, a nature reserve which acted as a sanctuary for Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, silver miners and smugglers. It was fortified in Victorian times and is most famous for receiving the first trans-Atlantic radio message sent by Marconi in 1897.