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Cardiff Castle

Cardiff, Glamorgan

Location Guide

A Medieval castle and Victorian revival mansion exists today on a site which once had a Norman Keep erected over a Roman Fort and situated in the centre of Cardiff City. From the roadside you get to see the large curtain walls which surround the site with its decorative figures strategically placed at the battle cutouts.

The original Norman Keep was built on a high motte, and the shell of this perched on its mound still exists today. Of the rest of the site that you see on a visit today is primarily the transformation which began in 1868 by the 3rd Marquess of Bute when he commission William Burgess to undertake a massive rebuilding project.

Together they came up with a Victorian Gothic Revival medieval palace with a series of highly decorated rooms. Rebuilding began with the Clock Tower and it's colourful artwork, followed by the Tank Tower, Guest Tower, Herbert Tower and Beauchamp Tower. Within the castle they created a succession of apartments including: the Winter and Summer Smoking Rooms, the Chaucer Room, the Arab Room, Lord Bute's Bedroom, the Roof Garden - all highly decorated and colourful. Astrological symbols, nature's creatures, the seasons, biblical characters dressed in gilt robes, moorish designs, and heraldic features are some of the themes that run throughout the castle as well as marble fireplaces. Flowing fountains, and rich greenery also add to the effect of their creators.

It remained in the Bute Family until 1947 when it was sold to Cardiff City for just 1.

Click on the smaller images to see larger versions

The Clock Tower

What To Do

Visit the Ruined walls of the old Norman Castle Keep. It is an example of the classic motte and bailey fortification. Once you pass through the gatehouse, the vision before you is of the motte as it surges upwards from the lush green bailey mound. And, on top stands the remarkably intact shell keep. With the bulky motte and its surrounding water-filled ditch, the keep gives the you a perfect image of the true Norman castle, which was here before.

A guided tour of the  Castle Apartments - takes about 50 minutes. Where you get to see The medieval gothic fantasy of the 3rd Marquis of Bute. Many of the rooms have marble fireplaces and fantastic ceilings all designed to a theme, such as the Arab room with a highly vaulted ceiling using gold, sandalwood and images of parrots, or the bedroom which uses religion as it's theme and the nursery is covered with fairytales and nursery rhymes. In the Clock Tower the Winter Smoking Room's theme is the seasons and days of the week.

The Norman Keep Ruins

The Castle Apartments

The Welch Regiment Museum is located in the Black and Barbican Towers and looks at their history from 1719-1964. It also commemorates the history of the Glamorgan militia and the auxiliary land forces. Admission is included within the castle entry fee, however it is closed on Tuesdays.

Notes and Accessibility:  The castle grounds are flat and much of it is lawn, just over the drawbridge at the castle entrance there is a cobblestone path. From the terrace there is level access around the Battlement Walks and a ramp down onto the Castle Green. The Castle apartments are not accessible to wheelchair users, or pushchairs. To get up to the Norman Keep there are 50 steep stone steps and steep staircases to reach the viewing platform at the top.

There is an audio guide available for the grounds, Norman Keep and Battlement Walk.

Click on the smaller images to see larger versions

Grounds of Bute Park. Is a mature parkland flanked by the River Taff, Sophia Gardens, Pontcanna Fields and the Castle. It has a nationally recognised arboretum containing 50 of the 4,000 recorded UK 'Champion Trees' (the biggest of their type), and as well as parkland to stroll and take in it also is the venue of many events throughout the year including the RHS Show Cardiff.

To see more work of William Burges it is worth visiting nearby Castell Coch,     near J32 of the M4,  which was rebuilt as a summer retreat for Lord Bute and features more of their gothic fantasy creations.

Location: Cardiff Castle, Glamorgan

Grid Reference: ST180767 Ceremonial County: Glamorgan

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap Aerial    Google Aerial

Getting there: From M4 J32 take A470 into centre of Cardiff. There are pay and display car parks on your right as you approach the castle, but there are many more in the city centre.

Access: Through the gate house off Castle Street at one end of St Mary's Street.
Website: www.cardiffcastle.com 

Other Useful Websites: Castles of Wales      Wiki 

Castle Xplorer        Castle UK       ecastles

Email: cardiffcastle@cardiff.gov.uk
Address: Cardiff Castle, Castle Street, Cardiff
Postcode: CF10 3RB Telephone: 029 2087 8100
Opening Times: Grounds and Apartments. Every day except 25th, 26th Dec and Jan 1st.
Mar-Oct 9am-6pm; Nov-Feb 9.30am-6pm

Charges: Adults 8.95; Child 6.35; Seniors 7.50; Students 7.50.
Cardiff Castle Residents Pass - for those who live or work in Cardiff they can apply for a 5 year pass which gives them FREE entry to the grounds, keep, interpretation centre, shop and cafe.

Nearby Locations: Castell Coch,  
Other Location Pages:
Other Relevant Pages: Castles of Wales    How to photograph a castle

Notes: Admission ticket includes an introductory film, a guided tour of the Castle apartments, a personal multi-media guide of the entire site, views from the Castle Keep and battlements and entry to the Welch Regiment Museum.

Allow at least 3-4 hours for your visit to take in all the sites including the 50 minute tour of the apartments

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid(s) or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Classification from the Grids above. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Tracey Park Section: Castles Key:
Page Ref: cardiff_castle Topic: Castles Last Updated: 03/2009


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