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Cardiff

Cardiff’s extraordinary transformation over the past decade has been such that it now comfortably ranks alongside Britain’s most inviting cities. Today, the Welsh capital boasts a wealth of exciting, family-friendly attractions, high culture, superb restaurants and some seriously cool nightlife. Best of all, however, is the magnificent Millennium Stadium, a sporting amphitheatre to rival any in the world, and home to the currently vibrant Welsh rugby team. A short walk or boat ride away, Cardiff Bay has been similarly rejuvenated, its core of venerable old buildings newly juxtaposed with some superb architecture, notably the awesome Millennium Centre and State Assembly building – in summer the waterfront is the place to hangout in Cardiff. The perfect city break destination? You bet.

History

Cardiff’s origins can be traced back to roughly 55AD, when the Romans settled on the site of Cardiff Castle – remains of the fort can still be seen – though nothing really very exciting happened from that point until the late 18th century and the arrival of the Bute dynasty. As important as Cardiff’s role was in the Industrial Revolution – the first steam locomotive to run on rails happened in nearby Merthyr Tydfil – the city’s subsequent growth and prosperity owed almost everything to the second Marquis of Bute, who built the first dock in 1839, with others following in quick succession. Cardiff not only became one of the world’s leading exporters, but its coal exchange also set the world price. Cardiff acquired city status in 1905, but following a good pounding during World War II and the relentless decline of the coal and dockside industries, the city’s fortunes rapidly dwindled. Renewed confidence came to bear in 1955 when the city was crowned capital of Wales, though it wasn’t really until the turn of the century that Cardiff began to realise its true potential. Devolution and the onset of mega projects like the Millennium Stadium and the Cardiff Bay redevelopment sowed the seeds for the city’s rebirth, at the same time securing its status as a bona fide international tourist destination.

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