WHERE IS CARDIFF?
Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) is a City and County in Wales, which is a Country in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Wales is traditionally known as a Principality, but is governed by the Welsh Assembly and the UK Parliament in Westminster, England. Cardiff is located in South Wales, and is bordered by Caerphilly and the Valleys to the North, the Vale of Glamorgan to the West, and the City of Newport to the East.
Situated on mainly low, reclaimed marshland on top of a Triassic landscape, Cardiff is divided by three rivers; the Ely in the West, the Taff through the middle and the Rhymney to the East. Both the Taff and Ely flow into Cardiff Bay, creating an artificial lake, which then flows into the Severn.
The Severn Estuary on which Cardiff's Coal exporting ports were based, has the second highest tidal range in the world and the treacherous waters have been responsible for many devastating floods. Cardiff has a maritime climate, with temperatures ranging from up to 30 degrees in the Summer, to minus 10 in the Winter. The City itself is made up of over 20 main suburbs (wards) which contain some of the largest housing estates in Europe. Contained within these suburbs are numerous villages and sub-wards, which are explored in greater detail further on in the site.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CARDIFF
The Romans and the Normans
Cardiff has a long and interesting history and people have lived in Cardiff for thousands of years. But the real history begins in A.D. 43, when the Romans invaded Britain in the 1st century, and didn't relinquish their hold over the country until their departure in 407.
Within 20 years of the Battle of Hastings, the Normans were marching on Wales. In 1091 Robert FitzHamon began work on Cardiff Castle and a small settlement grew up around it. By the Elizabethan times Cardiff was a lawless, pirate-infested port. In 1608 King James I granted a Royal Charter and by the 18th century it was a sleepy backwater of 1,500 people.
The Industrial Revolution and Marquises of Bute
In the 1790's the local gentry, the Butes, built the Glamorganshire Canal to join Cardiff with Merthyr Tydfil. Known as the 'Forefathers of Cardiff", the Bute Family invested their fortunes in constructing the first docks in Cardiff in 1839, betting that their new Canal would bring them almost total dominance over the coal export business.
The Butes were responsible for the renovation of Cardiff Castle and gave the City's inhabitants Bute Park, Sophia Gardens, and Cathays Park, one of the most impressive civic centers in the world. The population reached 250,000 in the first half of the 20th century, after being granted city status in 1905. Cardiff became the biggest coal-exporting port in the world, and at its peak in 1913, more than 13 million tons of coal left here.
A Capital City
In the 1950's, Cardiff had to justify it's nomination (and subsequent victory) for becoming the capital. Wales has a history spanning thousands of years, but in all that time did not have a capital city - and there were several major contenders in the race to become capital of Wales, including Swansea. Cardiff made it's claim to be capital based on it's long history associated with Coal and the fact that Cardiff had such a diverse population comprised of many different ethic groupings. The amount of work and investment in the City allowed it grow faster than other Welsh towns and cities, which brought more and more people to Cardiff.
Cardiff has many assets to reflect it's status as capital. The Millennium Centre, the Millennium Stadium, and the Cardiff Bay Barrage, which was one of the largest civil engineering projects in Europe during construction in the 1990's. In 2005, Cardiff celebrated two significant Birthdays. It had been 100 years since it was granted City status, and 50 years since it was declared Capital of Wales by Edward VII. A whole host of television programmes, books and websites (including this one) were commissioned to mark the momentous occasion.
Today Cardiff is the youngest and most dynamic, non-purpose built Capital City in Europe. It's a great place to visit and the ideal base from which to explore the coast, culture and heritage of Wales and western Britain. The Sci-Fi programs Torchwood and Doctor Who are filmed in the City, as well as the Welsh drama 'Caerdydd". The City is host to many major events, including World Class Rugby, Football and Cricket, the massive Admiral sponsored annual 'Cardiff Festival', Mardi Gras, The National Eisteddfod of Wales (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru) and musical concerts both in the stadium and the Cardiff International Arena.
Site updated: 17th October 2011