Cardiff or Caerdydd in Welsh is the capital city of Wales. The city is situated in the county of Glamorgan and it used to be a small traditional town up until the 19th century when it started to rapidly grow due to the sudden influx of industry in the area. At this point in time Cardiff became the main port in the region exporting coal. In the year 1905 Cardiff officially became a city and exactly 50 years later, in 1955, it was proclaimed the capital of Wales. The port here is known as Tiger Bay and it used to be very busy for a long period of time. Today, the port of Cardiff is not so popular for transport, but is very much appreciated by people all over the world as an art, entertainment and nightlife location.
The name of the city comes from the English pronunciation of the Welsh name “Caerdydd”. The origin of the name is not known, there being several hypotheses. “Caer” is the Welsh word for castle, but there is no explanation for what “dydd” could be standing for. Some people believe that this term was a corruption of the term “Taff”, which is the name of the river that crosses the city. In this case, the name “Cardiff” would actually mean “the castle on the river Taff”. However, modern researchers have serious doubts about this explanation, preferring to concentrate more on the Latin influence over the term. It is known that the Roman Emperor Antonius Didius built a fortress in Cardiff, thus they believe that it is most likely that the name of the city refers to the castle of Antonius Didius. Whatever the true origin of the name may be, the fact is that a beautiful 2000 year old Norman castle still exists in Cardiff and it would be a shame to miss visiting it while in the city.
One of the most popular city icons is the Cardiff professional football team - Cardiff City F.C. There are also other teams that bring fame to the city, such as the Cardiff Blues (the regional rugby team) and the Cardiff Devils Ice Hockey team.
Besides the Norman castle, Cardiff also hosts the National Assembly for Wales, St. David’s Concert Hall (one of the most popular concert venues in Britain due to its many productions), the National Museum and many more. One of the most interesting places in Cardiff is Caroline Street, the third oldest street in the city. This street is the main link between two of Cardiff’s busiest streets. On Caroline Street you can find a great variety of stores and shops and recently it seems to have become the home of chip and kebab eateries! Thus, the street became to be referred as the Chip Row or the Chip Alley. During the last few years the street became populated with new luxuriant flats and has been completely refurbished.
Cardiff is the home of the Big Weekend Festival that is held every year in late July or early August. The Festival takes place in the center of the city and it brings together all sorts of theme park events and rides. Each year about 2 hundred thousand people come to take part in this event. Another big event in the city is the Cardiff festival, considered to be the biggest outdoor festival in the entire country. This festival is actually the host of different smaller festivals, such as the Children’s Festival. The city also hosts the Cardiff Design Festival.
Another thing that should be noted about Cardiff is that it was the home of the National Eisteddfod five times (1883, 1899, 1938, 1960 and 1978) and it is to be the host again in 2008.
One of the most beautiful places in Cardiff is the green site in the centre of the city known as Bute Park. This area used to be a part of the castle grounds and today it has been designed to be a charming place inside the city. The park extends towards the northern part of the main shopping street in the city, Queen Street. The beautiful garden combines with the Llandaff Fields in the northwest area and together they form a unique place highlighting the Taff River. The people who live on this part of the city bear the nickname of Taffy after the river that crosses this region.
There are a few more parks in Cardiff, such as Roath Park in the north of the city. This amazing park was actually donated to the community by the third Marquess of Bute in 1887. One of the most popular tourist attractions in this park is the boating lake. Another very colorful park in Cardiff is Victoria Park, which was the city’s first official park.
Music and nightlife
Cardiff has proven to be one of the most popular places in the UK as far as the wide range of music is concerned. Some of the most visited and appreciated places in Cardiff include the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Welsh National Opera. Many of the leading acts across the country have emerged here. Also, as far as modern music is concerned, many Welsh bands have had their debut on one of Cardiff’s stages, before becoming well known nationally and even internationally.
Cardiff is also very popular for its strong nightlife, being the host of a numerous variety of nightclubs, bars, pubs and clubs. Most of these places can be found in the city centre and in Cardiff Bay, which has lately developed quite an impressive night scene. St. Mary Street is also one of the most populated places in Cardiff during the night time. The best time here is during good weather when the terraces are open and the street seems to have a life of its own.