Castell Caerdydd is the welsh name for Cardiff Castle, which lies in the heart of the city and can be easily found – just follow any of the shopping streets to the end and you can see it already!
The castle is a mediaeval one and you can also find a neo-Gothic manor in the style of the Victorian architecture in Wales. The area is surrounded by a roman fort and behind the castle is Bute Park, a lovely park perfect for having a good cup of tea, taking the river taxi or just enjoy some calm moments surrounded by green.
The walls around the city are decorated by animal statues – called the Animal Wall. It was designed by William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute and is quite a sight. Burges, however, died before the structure of the wall was completed and William Frame completed the Animal wall based on Burges’ ideas. There are 15 animals on the wall and they all look really well made.
Now, what can you do and see there and is it worth a visit?
The Norman keep is right in the middle of the area and it is the finest in Wales. From the top visitors can enjoy a lovely sight and overall it is definitely worth a look and worth a climb of the about 50 steep stone steps.
The walls surrounding the area can be accessed as well – there are tunnels through which you can walk and experience something unique: during the Second World War they were used as air-raid shelters and today you can see how the people back then slept and hid there, and also hear the alarming sounds from the war. I was quite surprised the first time I heard the siren, as I had not expected this at all. It’s oppressive somehow and leaves you with a heavy feeling as you finally step out into the sun again.
Inside the area is a Cardiff Castle Museum featuring a World-Class exhibition which commemorates over 300 years of history including events such as the Battle of Waterloo. You don’t have to pay extra for entering this museum, but keep in mind the opening times which are from 9am until 5:30pm (or 4:30pm from November to February)
The Clock Tower is clearly visible even before entering the castle grounds themselves. Cardiff offers guided tours into this Tower, showcasing stunning rooms and details. This tour costs 4 pounds per person (in addition to a general admission ticket). Check the availability on the castle homepage (http://www.cardiffcastle.com/clock-tower-tours/)
Talking about tours – there are more options to see and learn more about the castle. While you can enter the roman keep, the wall and the museum free of charge, if you are interested in the castle apartments, then you need to book a House Tour which lasts about 50 minutes and is led by an expert guide. Just ask at the Ticket Office for details and prices.
There are also special tours and events (http://www.cardiffcastle.com/whats-on/) – I so far only attended one of them which was the Grand Medieval Mêlée.
My first visit to the castle was actually during this event, not only because it really interested me, but also because the tickets cost only 6pounds for adults, but you still have access to all the free parts of the castle grounds.
I ventured the grounds, explored the Norman Keep and walked through the wall. But I also came back to the Medieval Melée!
That day the castle grounds looked different – there were tents, people carrying dragons, fighting with old swords and – on top of that a bird show! A falconry display.
The event was lovely! They showed multiple birds and in the end the visitors could even hold one of the small owls. Overall the event seemed more tailored to the needs of kids and I would have loved to see more for adults as well. But if you want to have an amazing bird show and see people battling with swords, then this is an awesome experience for you!
Now some basic information:
Ticket price for adults is 12pounds.
You can add a House Tour for 3pounds.
The castle is open 7 days a week and all year round (but it’s close on these dates: 25, 26 December and 1 January)
The castle opens at 9am, the apartments open half an hour later. The first House Tour can be booked for 10am.
There’s a café as well, so you will have enough options for a snack and drinks!
Now – is it worth a visit?
Yes. Yes, it is. If the price is too expensive for you, try to get in during the Mêlée, or get a seasonal pass. The castle grounds look great, make good photo opportunities and you can easily spend some hours there. Very well worth a visit!
When talking about the castle, one cannot leave out Bute Park, which lies directly behind the castle. Bute Park is perfect for letting the streets and loud noises behind you and enjoy trees and green around you!
You can also take the water taxi to the bay from here or enjoy a lovely tea and some snacks.