Cardiff Castle carries with it 2000 years of history, having first been controlled by the Romans who saw its value being so close to the sea. The Roman occupation of Southern Wales began the first stage of the fort, building huge stone walls and maintaining it for its first few centuries AD.
The Keep was built in 1091 by Robert Fitzhamon, the Norman Lord of Gloucester. He took control of the location as the castle was left dormant for after the Romans left around 400ad. The Keep took many shapes over the years. Originally built out of wood, then made into stone in the tenth century. At that time it actually used as a prison to the Duke of Normandy until his death in 1134.
From inside Cardiff Castle, you have a great view of the grounds. Hundreds of years ago I would have been a servant or peasant, today they let me pay £12 to walk throughout the grounds. Oh how times have changed.
I went to the castle in winter, when there were maybe 50-100 people at any one time, making the place feel spacious and less touristy. As well, with the neverending fog that defines Welsh winter, you don't get distracted by the modern structures that surround the castle as they are blocked from view by the fog.
Here, a chandelier hangs in front of one of the many stained glass windows. In older times, having a lot of glass was considered a sign of great wealth.
The ceilings inside Cardiff Castle are very detailed and each has an original design.
This is the ceiling of the room known as The Arab Room.
In 1865, Lord Bute really got work by pulling the best historians and the finest craftsmen in Wales to bring Cardiff Castle to its current state. One craftsman was architect William Burges. He remodeled interior rooms, added several towers, rebuilt the Octagon Tower and added a library and banqueting hall.
The most notable feature that was added during this time period is the clock tower. This tower was built in 1875 , where a Roman Bastion once was. To this day we have the Butes to thank for renovating and building onto the castle for the almost 200 years they spent with it.
The animal wall is another well recognized part of the castle. Also not an original part of the castle design, it was built during the restoration of the castle by William Frame, who took over after the death of Burges. All sorts of animals are represented here including apes, a lynx, raccoons and an anteater. Oddly enough, no whales.
Cardiff Castle was turned over to the city of Cardiff in 1947. Now it is open to the public most days of the year. You can also find events, banquets and reenactments taking place throughout the year. Check out the Cardiff castle events page to find out what is taking place while you're in Cardiff.
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