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Cardiff History

The Welsh capital might be one of Europe’s youngest but like neighbouring London, it has Roman roots. Battling to contain the rampant Silures, the Iron Age tribe that once inhabited the land, the Romans set up a wooden fort on the site of what is now Cardiff Castle.

Although the fort was abandoned when the Romans left, Cardiff wasn’t quite dead and it was revived for good when another invader, William the Conqueror, arrived. William rebuilt the fort in 1081, this time in stone, and as a result, the city began to put down roots.

However, it was not all plain sailing for the fledgling city. It suffered serious damage in 1401 when a rebellion against English rule, led by Owain Glyndŵr, saw much of Cardiff being destroyed. The damage was so bad that rebuilding didn’t begin until 1423. In the years that followed, Cardiff stagnated, becoming little more than a military backwater.

All that changed when Henry VIII took to the throne and passed the Laws in Wales Acts, which turned Cardiff the county town for Glamorganshire. In 1581, Elizabeth I granted the city its first royal charter. However, it was successive Marquesses of Bute who really transformed Cardiff, beginning with efforts to restore Cardiff Castle in 1793. Another Marquess, John Crichton-Stuart, dedicated his life to building the Cardiff docks.

As the demand for coal grew, so did the population of the city, and Cardiff became the biggest town in Wales by 1881. Its first university, the University College South Wales and Monmouthshire, went up in 1893 and by 1905 Cardiff was granted city status.

Modern day Cardiff was built on the profits of mining. A Victorian boom town, it exported coal and steel from the Welsh hills all over the world. At its peak, Cardiff became the biggest coal port in the world with more than 13 million tonnes of the black stuff being exported from the city by 1913.

Today, thanks to an urban regeneration programme, Cardiff is back to its bustling best and boasts modern shopping centres, world class galleries and a shiny sports arena.

Did you know?
• Opened in 1894, Spillers in Cardiff is the oldest record shop in the world.
• Children’s author Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff in 1916.
• The 11th century Cardiff Castle was used as an air raid shelter during WWII.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Featured Hotels


The St David's Hotel & Spa

Located in the Cardiff Bay area only five minutes from the city centre the stylish 5-star St David's (part of the Principal Hotels chain) has 132 well-equipped guest bedrooms (including 20 suites) all with private balconies and splendid views across the bay. The hotel also boasts excellent spa facilities. There are good conference services and plenty of dining options too including an award-winning restaurant.

Park Inn by Radisson Cardiff North

Perched on the fringes of Cardiff city centre, the Park Inn by Radisson Cardiff North is a clean and classy budget choice with 132 rooms. All come with large LCD TVs, free Wi-Fi and access to the on-site gym. The hotel also has a lounge area offering light snacks during the day and a Bar and Grill for a more relaxed dinner or late night drink.

Hotel Ibis Cardiff

Conveniently located, crisp and clean, the Ibis Cardiff is a dream for those watching their budget. With 102 rooms to choose from, all sleeping quarters come with soft bedding, fast Wi-Fi and sparkling ensuite bathrooms. There is also a café and bar on-site to make sure all visitors are filled up and ready for a full day's exploring.

Novotel Cardiff Centre

Located in central Cardiff, near the Millennium Stadium, this hotel has 138 stylish and comfortable bedrooms, all decorated in neutral colours and natural pastels. The hotel also has an indoor pool, gym, sauna, steam bath and whirlpool. The Elements Restaurant and Bar downstairs offers good food and drinks.


This is a lovely boutique hotel located on Cardiff's oldest Georgian terrace, right in front of the new Millennium Centre and around the corner from the city's revamped waterfront area. Rooms (all non-smoking) are individually designed with solid furniture, exquisite linen and good lighting. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant and bar with Wi-Fi access available in all rooms.

Hilton Cardiff

The central, modern 5-star Cardiff Hilton has 197 elegant bedrooms and suites, many with spectacular views across the city and over Cardiff Castle. There is also an award-winning restaurant, Razzi, as well as a bar, a health club, gym and spa and a 20m (66ft) pool. The staff's attentiveness has been acknowledged with tourism awards, while each room comes with soft beds, large LED TVs and lovely bathrooms.