Best known as the capital of Wales, Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) used to be a city based around its industrious heart, but is now more known as a tourism hot spot, centre of higher education learning, and BBC filming location. Cardiff exists as both a city and a county within the Welsh unitary authority system of government.
Throwing off the shackles off its industrial past, the Welsh capital is now considered an important destination on any tour of mainland Britain. Fascinating history, striking architecture, boutique shops and an international sports stadium all lead to Cardiff being a desirable place to visit, and an important place to settle.
Due to its location on the south coast of Wales, at the mouth of three rivers, the Taff, the Ely and the Rhymney, Cardiff was an ideal place to have a sea port, with docks, harbour and marina all protected in a naturally occurring bay that was strengthened by development and manmade structures.
With world-renowned rugby and super-sized concerts provided at the Millennium Stadium, the structure opened in 1999 to replace Cardiff Arms Park, the city has a structure that plays host to international audiences for a variety of reasons. Renamed as the Principality Stadium in 2016 for sponsorship reasons, the facility has been used as a filming location on many occasions, notably in several Doctor Who episodes and representing Wembley at the climactic end of 28 Weeks Later.
Based on the site of a 3rd century Roman fort, visitors and locals are able to step into 2,000 years of history at Cardiff Castle. A motte and bailey structure was built relatively soon after the Norman invasion, with the iconic keep still relatively intact to this day. After its initial use as a military stronghold, and surviving the effects of the English Civil War, Cardiff Castle has been extensively repurposed and redesigned, including work carried out by famed landscaper Capability Brown in the late 18th century.
The city’s Castle Quart is now found just outside of the Castle’s walls, and is the main shopping precinct. People can savour local produce at Cardiff Central Market, take the train from Cardiff Central, or explore one of the many eateries that are scattered throughout the area.
As well as the Principality Stadium, music lovers can also enjoy gigs at venues including Clwb Ifor Bach and The Globe. Cardiff must have something in the water when it comes to music, as many famed musicians and bands were either born or formed in the area. Names such as Shirley Bassey, Cerys Matthews, Shakin’ Stevens and Oasis’ Andy Bell were all born in Cardiff, while groups such as Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and Underworld met and performed in their early incarnations in the Welsh Capital.
In 1999 Cardiff became the seat of government for Wales, the base for its National Assembl, with the parliament building, the Senedd, opening in 2006. There are 75 local councillors on the City and County Council of Cardiff, looking after the City at a local level, with a historically Labour bias. In the early 21st century Cardiff also became an important centre of television production, most notably as the home base for the popular long-running BBC series Doctor Who. Cardiff is also closely associated with Torchwood, the spin off programme centred on Captain Jack Harkness. The fictional Torchwood Institute is based underneath the streets of the city, meaning that Cardiff is often featured in external shots throughout the show’s 41 episodes.