Friday, October 9, 2009

Cardiff Castle

After my work, some of us went to a local castle in Cardiff. It is not the oldest castle but a unique castle.

Here is the info from the Cardiff Castle website:

Cardiff Castle is one of Wales' leading heritage attractions and a site of international significance. Located at the heart of the capital, within beautiful parklands, the Castle's walls and fairytale towers conceal 2,000 years of history.

The Roman fort at Cardiff was probably established at the end of the 50s AD, on a strategic site that afforded easy access to the sea. Archaeological excavations made during the 1970s indicate that this was only the first of four forts, each a different size, that occupied the present site. Remains of the Roman wall can be seen today.

After the Norman conquest, the Castle's keep was built, re-using the site of the Roman fort. The site was divided into inner and outer wards, separated by a huge stone wall. The first keep on the motte was erected by Robert Fitzhamon, the Norman Lord of Gloucester, and along with many of these early defences was probably built of wood. More medieval fortifications and dwellings followed.

The Castle passed through the hands of many noble families until in 1766, it passed by marriage to the Bute family. The 2nd Marquess of Bute was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world's greatest coal exporting port. The Castle and Bute fortune passed to his son John, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, who by the 1860s was reputed to be the richest man in the world.

From 1866 the 3rd Marquess employed the genius architect William Burges to transform the Castle lodgings. Within gothic towers he created lavish and opulent interiors, rich with murals, stained glass, marble, gilding and elaborate wood carvings. Each breathtaking room has its own special theme, including Mediterranean gardens and Italian and Arabian decoration.

The 3rd Marquess died when he was only 53 in 1900. He had transformed the Castle into a Welsh Victorian Camelot - now regarded as being of international significance. Despite huge death duties on the estate, the 4th Marquess completed many of his father's restoration projects including the reconstruction of the Roman wall. The Bute family continued to stay at the Castle throughout the 1920s and 1930s, although they had sold off many of their business interests in South Wales. Following the death of the 4th Marquess of Bute, the family decided to give the Castle and much of its parkland, known as Bute Park, to the city of Cardiff. For 25 years, the Castle was home to the National College of Music and Drama and since 1974 has become one of Wales' most popular visitor attractions.

The other building which is very ornate.  We had a tour of this building.

The Castle.  Those stairs are not only long but very steep.

I think by having so many stairs, any enemy would be good and tired by the time they got to the top, so this was a good move by the Welsh!!

So Bill and John decided to tackle the stairs. I slowly followed.

We are in the top of the castle looking down into the courtyard. Imagine that, we had to climb (yet) more stairs for this view.

As with all castles, there must be a moat.

Looking down the stairs and to the moat.

Looky here, more stairs to a wall.

A slot so you could shoot your arrows.

Here I am at the top. Did I tell you that I am not too keen on heights?

Bill, one of my work buddies, looking dapper at the top of the castle.

We went to the other buildings and had a tour and then visited the gift shop. Bill and John doing the tourist pose.

Bill and I doing the tourist pose too.

Another view of the castle.

A female peacock and her chick. Apparently part of the live attraction. The other live attraction was the numerous tourists!!

.A Gargoyle. Click on this to see the water

The Red Dragon.

One of the towers.

Entrance. See how sturdy the doors are.

This opens the doors. Check out the gears!!

They had some cannons so we had to do one last pose. We had a great and educational time at the castle. If you get a chance, you should go and see it.