South Wales and the country’s capital, Cardiff, is a haven for historical attractions and glimpses into Wales’ past, despite the city being one of the youngest capital cities in Europe. Don’t let that fool you, there are over 2000 year’s worth of history to be found here and South Wales has one of the largest collections of castles in the British Isles.

Here are our picks of the best historical sites to visit in and around Cardiff so you can really immerse yourself in Wales’ fascinating past.

Cardiff Castle

We had to start here really, Cardiff Castle continues to overlook the city centre and is surrounded by modern day shops and restaurants, which just makes it look all the more impressive! The castle has stood on the site since the 11th century and has adapted a number of different styles over the years.
Historians believe that it was originally a Roman fort which was likely established in the 50s AD and is thought to have been built as a strategic hub with easy access to the sea. Archaeologists think that there were a series of four different forts on the site during its history and the one there now still stands behind a Roman wall. In more recent history, it was home to the Bute family who were thought to be the richest in the world!

Caerphilly Castle

While we’re on the subject of castles, let’s head to the outskirts of Cardiff to this – the largest castle in Wales and the second largest in the whole of Britain (Windsor in England takes the top spot). It’s three times the size of the Principality Stadium!

The castle itself stands on a 30 acre site and is well known for its concentric defences and gatehouses, as well as being built on a man made island surrounded by artificial lakes.

St Fagan’s National History Museum

The one stop shop for everything there is to know about Wales’ past can be found in Cardiff at St Fagan’s, which is on the former grounds of St Fagan’s Castle. The museum is set across 100 acres and is an open air attraction featuring reconstructed buildings from various time periods as well as displays of Wales’ industrial past. There are also native breeds of Welsh livestock and demonstrations of Welsh music, dance and festivals.

The shopping quarter

While you might not expect this part of the city to be historical it is actually home to several Edwardian and Victorian arcades many of which feature the original charms and some of them are home to shops full of vintage products and items associated with Welsh history including Love Spoons and tasty treats like Welsh Cakes and Bara Brith.

Cardiff Bay

The Cardiff Bay area is full of fun things to explore that give a glimpse to Wales’ heritage, including the Millennium Centre, the Norwegian Church that was attended by children’s author Roald Dahl and Roald Dahl Plaza, a little square that is dedicated to his memory.

South Wales is also famous for its mining history, so if you get the chance to explore the wider area, take some time to visit the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon. There are a range of above ground attractions including a pithead, saw mill and baths as well as a below ground tour of the mine.

Find more things to see and do in South Wales here.

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