This year Wales celebrates Year of Legends, focusing on the myths and history of this beautiful land. We cast a glance to the land of dragons and pull together our top 10 amazing Welsh attractions…
1. Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse
Celebrated poet Dylan Thomas spent the last four years of his life in this little s boathouse. The house in Laugharne overlooks the Taff estuary and the Gower peninsula. It was in this abode that Thomas wrote his poem ‘Over Sir John’s Hill’, which perfectly epitomises his view from the humble shed of the birds that hunted over the beautiful bay. He also wrote his famous play here, ‘Under Milk Wood’. The Thomas family still visit the boathouse, which is now open to visitors with a tearoom and exhibition.
2. Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle is a defensive medieval castle, which stands on the River Cleddau in Pembroke. It is most commonly known as the birthplace of Henry VII in 1457. His mother, Margaret Beaufort, came to the castle after it was given to her brother-in-law Jaspar Tudor following the death of her husband. It is strategically positioned, overlooking Milford Haven estuary. The castle lies in the land that was the subject of many a dispute during medieval times and so the defensive castles in the area like Pembroke stand as magnificent ruins telling a tale of turbulent times past.
3. Tredegar House
Tredegar House is a 17th-century mansion house in the city of Newport. The grandeur of the estate is reminiscent of the family who inhabited it. The Morgans, later known as the Tredegars, owned the property along with vast acres of land across Monmouthshire, Breconshire and Glamorgan for centuries. The house was owned as a family home until the 1950s when it became a school. The house has been managed by the National Trust since 2012.
4. Llandaff Cathedral
Llandaff Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Llandaff and the Church of Wales. Situated north of Cardiff, the historic cathedral is one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in Wales. The majestic establishment stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain. The cathedral, as it stands today, dates from 1107, and still operates as a parish church. In 2010 a new organ was commissioned for the cathedral, which was the largest organ commissioned in a UK cathedral for nearly half a century.
5. Big Pit National Coal Museum
It is impossible to ignore the role that coal and its mining played on the country of Wales. Here, the industry truly burgeoned through the Industrial Revolution and the Big Pit National Coal Museum pays heritage to this history. It is a real coal mine and exists to educate those on mining traditions and ways of life. Visitors can even venture underground to get a real sample of mining life as it was over the Blaenafon moors.
6. Millennium Stadium
The Millennium Stadium is the home of Wales’s national rugby team and a real treasure grandly located in the heart of the Welsh capital, Cardiff. Built in 1999, the stadium can seat 74,500 spectators. It was first used as a concert arena for the millennium celebrations in 2000. It is well known for its sliding roof, which has kept it popular with performers and punters alike in the uncertain British weather. From rugby matches, to football games and concerts, to equestrian events – the stadium hosts some of the capital’s grandest extravaganzas.
7. Swansea and Mumbles Railway
The beautiful coastline between Swansea and Mumbles is home to the world’s first passenger railway service. A need for a link between the fishing village of Mumbles and the town of Swansea was discussed back in 1804 and from there the idea of the railway was borne. It was built to aid the mineral industries wanting to transport limestone but it became popular among those wishing to travel: it carried its first passengers in March 1807. As the first of its kind, the railway saw transport evolve from horse-drawn, to sail power, steam power, electric power, right through to petrol and diesel. It closed in 1960 but remains a national treasure along the Welsh coast and its reopening is constantly suggested today.
8. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Britain is home to some great feats of engineering. William Telford dreamt up the first system to carry a canal across a valley and the first stone of this architectural wonder was laid in 1795. It was completed and opened in 1805 and today the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Named as the ‘stream in the sky’, the aqueduct still remains the tallest aqueduct in Britain.
9. Wales Millennium Centre
Designed by Percy Thomas, the Wales Millennium Centre is a veritable hub of Welsh culture – hosting institutions such as the Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004. Situated on Cardiff Bay, the astounding structure has won many awards for architecture, innovation and design.
10. Castell Coch
This fairytale castle has a modern history in comparison to some of its neighbours. The Gothic revival style construction was commissioned by John Patrick Crichton-Stuart in the Victorian era. The castle was created in the 19th century as a rural retreat by William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart. Situated on the outskirts of Cardiff, the castle is now open to the public.
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