Not many places in the world have something right in the middle of their city’s centre as historic and well preserved as Cardiff has with the magnificent Cardiff Castle.
Discover Cardiff Castle: a piece of History of Wales
Cardiff Castle has partially been built on the historic remains of an original Roman fort which is believed to be from the year 50 AD, but the majority of the current castle was built by the Normans who invaded England and Wales in 1066.
Despite originally being intended as a means of defense, there is a number of striking architectural features to be found within the fortified walls such as a series of carved animals that watch you as you walk up to the castle, an impressive twelve sided shell keep and a converted Palace with the most detailed and stunning Victorian-style interiors.
These stone carved animals greet you as you approach the castle
A view from the clock tower towards the Norman Keep and overlooking the valleys behind
The palace is as stunning from the inside as it is from the outside
Overlooking the palace from the Norman Keep with the Millenium Stadium in the background
Inside Cardiff Castle
The palace has always functioned as the Castle’s main residence and was originally built for Mr Richard Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick in the 1420s and 1430s. The current interiors are the result of Lord Bute’s (The 3rd Marquess of Bute) desire to turn the Castle into an extravagant piece of architecture.
Lord Bute was responsible for employing the incredibly talented and famous architect named William Burges (1827 – 1881). Renowned for his skills and craftsmanship, William Burges spared no expenses when it came to the major overhaul of the main residence which included, among other things, a secluded roof garden, an extensive library and a new Clock Tower in the south-west corner of the castle which has for a long time been Cardiff’s tallest structure.
The interiors tell you a lot about the life within the castle and the family’s beliefs and values. For instance, being strongly religious, they didn’t believe in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; there is an arched frame around the entrance door to the library which shows a series of monkeys that do not know what to do with Darwin’s book and so they eventually just try to eat it.
The monkeys don’t know what to make of Charles Darwin’s theories, or book for that matter.
One of many elaborately decorated rooms. This one served as dining room for the recent NATO summit in Cardiff.
Incredibly detailed fire place and ceiling in the same room
Details in the Winter Smoking Room
A quiet and serene roof garden based on a traditional Roman courtyard Villa which had an ingenious system using gravity which made water spray out of this fountain.
The single bed for the Marquess of Bute made especially for his bachelor apartment. Though soon after completion, he met his future wife, Gwendolen FitzAlan Howard
The faceted ceiling of the Marquess’ bedroom padded with mirrors
The en-suite bathroom with beautiful timber and inlaid stonework from all over the world.
The Castle was for the Butes very much a family home. Here you see an old rocking horse and a picture of the fairytale about Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, painted in the nursery
The beautiful library
Take a Tour of Cardiff Castle
In 1947, the 4th Marquess of Bute died and the remaining family decided to give the Castle and the park as a present to the City of Cardiff who have owned it and looked after it since.
Nowadays, you can explore the castle greens, the impressive keep, the original Roman walls and the Victorian interiors of the palace as well as a series of underground tunnels that gave shelter to people during the 2nd World War.
You can go by yourself or with one of the very knowledgeable tour guides. They will be able to tell you all about what went on inside these walls and have many stories about the family life at Cardiff Castle. There is also the option of an audio tour in no less than ten different languages and even an app for your smart phone which has special trails for kids to explore.
On special request, we got to visit the higher floors of the clock tower, that are not usually accessible for the public:
Details in the bathroom
One of the most impressive rooms in the tower is the summer smoking room, which is full of symbolism and references to astrology
Much of the stonework in the castle was carved by the London sculptor Thomas Nicholis, and then painted and decorated
Can you spot the missing continent?
Inside the Clock Tower
Roman Walls & Norman Keep
For nearly 900 years, Cardiff Castle’s Roman past remained hidden beneath banks of earth added by the Normans. It was only discovered when the 3rd Marquess of Bute decided to build a new tower and to extend the grounds. Lord Bute decided to abandon his original plans and investigate and reconstruct the Roman fort instead.
Lord Bute had a passage built inside the reconstructed wall to act as a viewing gallery. During World War II, these were used as air-raid shelters, accommodating nearly 2000 people.
The remains of the Roman walls can be viewed inside the visitor’s centre
Inside the Norman Keep
I can recommend visiting Cardiff Castle as it is definitely one of the most important features of the city of Cardiff and the history of Wales. Because large parts of it are indoors, it’s worth the visit no matter what the weather is like. Have a look in the video below what to expect:
Visitor Information: Entrance to the castle is free for people living and working in Cardiff. All others pay £12 (Adults) or £9 (Children). A guided tour is an extra £3 for adults and £2 for children. You can visit 7 days a week, all year, except from 25-26 December and the 1st of January. The castle is open from 9am (first tour 10am) to 6pm (Mar-Oct) or 5pm (Nov-Feb).
Website: For more information, please visit www.cardiffcastle.com
Disclaimer: We were kindly invited by Visit Wales to explore the grounds of Cardiff Castle. All opinions are 100% our own.
Find out what else to do in Cardiff on this Pinterest board:
Would you like to visit Cardiff Castle? Which part would interest you most?
Brochure Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales
Download the entire brochure in PDF format