Step out of the station and turn right, towards St Mary Street, one of the oldest streets in the city. Some of its early architecture is still intact, as are the classic old shopping arcades and the grand House of Fraser department store. Next call in at the old indoor market opened in 1891 which retains its original roof and décor, and has the stalls placed in the same positions as they were the first day of trading. Local delicacies, such as cheeses, meats and wines, are on sale here at a very reasonable price.
Coming out of the market cross St John Square past the 15th century church of St John the Baptist. The magnificent bell tower has views of Castell Coch (Red Castle) and beyond. You may prefer to sample the delightful selection of restaurants here which offer Italian, Chinese and American food enjoyed inside or en terrasse. Continue south to the top of Queen Street, a pedestrianised shopping centre, complete with cafes, pubs, restaurants, indoor shopping, famous name brands and bargains galore. If you prefer history then turn back towards Cardiff Castle, a Norman fortification built in the 11th century. For a small entry fee take a tour of the castle gardens and keep, sit in the famous banqueting hall or walk along the battlements. To learn more about the historic growth of Cardiff from small town to major iron and coal exporting port, jump on one of the open air City Tour buses outside the castle entrance - an excellent way to see Alexandra Gardens, Cardiff Bay and the Millennium Stadium.
The gardens are behind the civic buildings and at their centre stands a beautiful war memorial. For a pleasant walk, cross North Road into Coopers Field and follow the footpath over the bridge, along the banks of the River Taff, past the National Institute of Sport and Glamorgan County Cricket ground to Pontcanna Fields and Black Weir.
Cardiff Bay and Atlantic Wharf
History of CardiffHabitation of Wales can be traced back to 600 BC with the arrival of the Celts from Europe. But it was the Romans who put Cardiff itself on the map by building a fort here in AD 75.
The Normans took over in the 12th century, building Cardiff Castle on the same site.
Cardiff remained quite a small entity for the next few centuries - like much of the rest of Wales it relied on the coal and iron industries.
The opening of the Taff Vale Railway in 1841 linked Cardiff with Merthyr Tydfil - the largest iron producing area in the world - such that goods could be transported in less than an hour. This revolutionised the exportation of Welsh coal and catapulted Cardiff to the forefront of the industry.
The opening of the East Dock in 1859 reflected Cardiff's flourishing trade status and resulting population expansion to 33,000.
The 20th century saw the building of the City Hall, the National Museum of Wales and the Welsh Office, and then in 1955, it was made the official capital of Wales.
Despite the collapse of many of the industries upon which it has traditionally relied, the end of the 20th century has proved to be an exciting period for Wales. In 1999, Cardiff became the home of the independent Welsh Assembly - a body with many powers, made up of Welsh people to govern Welsh people.
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