The first ever place I visited in South Wales was Cardiff Castle. This fort has a very long history. The initial fort was built in 1st C CE by Romans, later taken over and expanded in 11th C CE by Normans and then extended extensively in 19th C by the Marquees of Bute!
The first thing to see is the clock in the outer fortification of the castle! This was built in 1868 by Willaim Burgis under 3rd Marquee of Bute. Its about 40m tall. There are 7 larger than life sized sculptures of various mythical and allegorical figures which all relate to time sculpted by Thomas Nicholas with lots of real gold & gold leaf detailing!
The main section along the outer wall is the Castle Apartment. Well, I've just started watching The Tudors series and now I know a bit about Henry VIII and his wives! The first room of the Castle Apartment has stained glass paintings of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, his 3rd wife who gave him a son! There are some exhibits in here incl a wooden canon which is about 600 years old. On all direction from here are several little rooms incl a study, a small dining room, an exquisitely detailed little room called Arab room etc. The dining room has a 4 seater dining table. The dome shaped ceiling was covered with tons of gilded detailing and at the centre was a stunning chandelier.
The Arab room blew my mind away. It was very Persian in its styling. The roof was geometric with arches filled with foliage detailing all over in gold like Muquarnas! A couple of stained glass images filled the windows. A portion of one wall has mosaic detailing of 2 lions and an emblem reminding me of Byzantine art that I studied in my university days! With all light & shade effect and 3 dimensional detail, this was an impeccable piece of art. The wooden cupboards are decorated with inlay work! This room was designed by William Burges and was one of his last works in 1881.
The biggest room here is the Banqueting hall, as well as being the oldest as well from 1873. This was designed by William Burges as well. This was originally 7 bedrooms which are joined together for 1 huge room. The flooring was the traditional handmade ones reminding me of India's Athangudi tiles. Probably this was brought in from India, may be!!! However a very similar art form is also prevalent in Morocco, which is closer. All windows were filled with stained glass images.
The tiles on the walls were filled with foliage as well as animals & birds, more like tree of life! One factor that amused me was the excessive use of monkeys! On the walls, around the doors, everywhere, dancing, playing musical instruments, guarding, eating, playing, reading etc again reminding me much of Tirunelveli! May be this place was a green place once filled with monkeys throughout when the artisans were working and that may have inspired them. The fire place was heavy with its sculptural detailing and looks like a mini castle. The high roof has painting of battlefield of King's daughter Matilda in 12th C.
Further ahead is another important room - the library. The most important factor here was the fire place which has 5 humans atop who represent the 5 early languages incl Hieroglyphics. This doesn't include Tamil or Sanskrit though.
Out of the Apartments, at the centre of the entire space is 'The Shell Keep' which is surrounded by a moat which is today filled gorgeously with daffodils. Today only a circular wall remains. One of section of this wall where some rooms are intact. 2 flights of stairs takes us to the top of the castle which is the View to the North which would have given the soldiers back then a perfect view of all around the castle and prevent any intruders.
The North Wall is another section (almost opposite to the entrance) of the outer wall, from where a tunnel from within goes till the main entrance! During the 2 world wars this place was used as a hideout.
Till date the place is maintained with the world war memorabilia, incl cots, radio, hurricane lamps, cycles, jackets, utensils, posters explaining how to protect when there's an air raid etc.
P.S.1: Check out here my outfit on this trip.
P.S.2: Don't miss Gina's Cafe just opposite to the castle. I had the best tasting Masala Dosa with Sambar & Tomato Chutney in the last 6 months, here in this cafe in South Wales! Its a fusion cafe of all Eastern cuisines incl Turkish, Moroccan, Indian, Persian and more except Oriental. Food is great!!! No, this part is not sponsored.
To Get There:
Walkable distance from Cardiff Busstand and Railway Station.
Timings: 9:30AM to 4:00/5:00 PM
Admission fee: £12
Dedicated to Venkat