Wales is a picturesque land that will surely offer you a great variety of tourist attractions crammed with a sense of history and splendor. One of the highlights is in Cardiff - St. Fagans National History Museum, which attracts numerous visitors all year long with its architectural trails through Wales' history.
The St. Fagans National History Museum is actually a museum organized in the open air, one of the biggest of this kind in the whole of Europe. You can see all sorts of architectural and cultural exhibits within the framework of this museum, from traditional cottages to luxury mansions, a gorgeous chapel and a few farms plus a Victorian shop complex and a toll house. All these are displayed in a huge area of over 100 acres and will show you Wales in a nutshell. It is like taking a walk though the entire history and sites of Wales in only one day, seeing buildings, establishments, photographs, crafts, books that have a connection to Wales throughout its history starting from Celtic times until nowadays. The St. Fagans National History Museum awaits you with open arms, and it is a great way to spend a day in beautiful Cardiff.
The St. Fagans National History Museum opened its gates to the public in 1948. It was built on the territory of St. Fagans Castle, a manor that dates back in the late 1500s, and was given as a gift from the Earl of Plymouth to the people of Wales. Today, in that space there are over forty original buildings that characterize different eras, and these buildings have been re-created to provide the visitors with an idea about Wales and its architectural history.
The St. Fagans National History Museum hosts seven large collections: the buildings, corporate life collections, domestic and costumes, agricultural, craft and transport exhibits, a collection that records the cultural life of Wales, film archives, manuscript archives, a collection of highly interesting photographs, a sound archive and an enormous library.
The buildings that you can see at the St. Fagans National History Museum incorporate all sorts of farms, luxury mansions, houses, a chapel, a toll house, and a lot of other interesting buildings. There is also a Workmen's Institute, where workshops are held on a regular basis. In these workshops, various craftsmen reveal their traditional skillfulness. You can also buy things made here, a great souvenir that will always remind you of the time spent at St. Fagans National History Museum.
The farms that you will be able to see at the St. Fagans National History Museum are full of farm animals and genuine farmers show the visitors how things happen on a farm. These farming demonstrations are a great show as you will find out so many fascinating things about the history and customs of Wales. In addition, you can also hear the rare Welsh language, as the farmers, craftsmen and the interpreters use it currently.
If you are interested in Welsh costumes, you should check out the galleries that exhibit these. These are included in the domestic and costumes section. There are various costumes and adornments from the Middle Ages to the present day. The collection includes an impressive number of dresses from the 19th and the 20th centuries.
There are also regular ancient items of clothing included in the collection. You will also see furniture and interior fittings from ancient times as well as cooking items and household appliances. There are also other events and temporary exhibitions organized on a regular basis at St. Fagans National History Museum. If you are lucky enough, you can witness traditional festivals, music concerts and Welsh traditional dances.
The corporate life collections comprise all sorts of business and trade materials. You will be able to see in this section ironmongery, grocery, furnishings, plus medical, law and ecclesiastical articles. The agricultural, craft and transport section is made up of tools, vehicles and machinery used to help out in the daily life of Welsh people. These items are from the late 1700s up till the mid 1900s. The craft items include woodwork, metalwork, leatherwork, basket making, pottery, quilting, embroidery and lace making. The section that deals with Welsh cultural life covers the music, folklore and customs recorded throughout the centuries.
If you visit the archival collections of the museum, you will be amazed at the numerous audio recordings comprised in this collection, which are around 9,000. The majority of these recordings have original fieldwork, which you can easily access. These recordings contain data on the folk narrative, issues related to linguistics, folk medicine, traditional Welsh music as well as customs. There are also around 200 videos, which were produced by historians and staff from the St. Fagans National History Museum. The archives of manuscripts are mostly about the Welsh ethnology. There is also a large photographic archive, which has over 150,000 photographs. These photographs will surely give you at least a hint on the complexity of the Welsh culture.
Last, but not least, the library section is made up of over 40,000 volumes and 200 periodicals, which will help you if you want a more detailed study on the Welsh ethnology, social and cultural history. Admission is free of charge, so this museum is certainly available to everyone. There are also Educational Visits available for schools, but it is lovely to spend some quality time with the family as well while visiting the museum.
The St. Fagans National History Museum is a great place for local people to visit, to learn more about their ancestors and is an outstanding museum for the tourists.
For more details and info, check out the official website of the St. Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff at www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/stfagans/