Just to the north of Newport lies Caerleon, a
small town with a big history. The town was once one of the
most remote outposts of the mighty Roman Empire and one of only
three permanent fortresses in Britain.
The legacy of that past is clearly visible today with many relics
and remains throughout the town. The amphitheatre is the most
complete in Britain while the barracks are the only one of
its kind still on view in the whole of Europe. A short stroll
through the town brings you to the Roman Baths, in their time a
state of the art leisure complex with heated changing rooms,
exercise rooms and an open air swimming pool.
Telling the story of the town's Roman past is the National Roman Legion
Museum. Exhibitions and artefacts show how the
town and its garrison lived, fought and died.
Visit the museum's website for more
Standing on the banks of the River Usk, the city
of Newport and the surrounding
area is packed with things to see and do.
And now to help you find your way about, a new tourism guide has
been launched. Called Newport 360, the guide hears from local
people about what visitors can expect to find on a visit to the
city and the wider region.
Amongst the highlights you can expect to find on a visit is the
iconic Transporter Bridge. It
is one of only eight such bridges remaining in the world.
Built in 1906, the elaborate design was needed in order to allow
tall ships to pass up the river to Newport Docks. Today
visitors can cross the river on the suspended gondola or the brave
can climb the stairs and cross the high level walkway, a mere 177
feet above the ground. Enjoy the view.
From the top of the Transporter Bridge, you should be able to spot
Tredegar House on the
outskirts of the city. Standing in 90 acres of glorious
parkland, the estate was once the home of the aristocratic and
somewhat eccentric Morgan family. Visitors can explore this
National Trust property and discover how both the masters and their
servants lived and worked.
Newport's history goes back even further. All the way back
to Roman times in fact. The small town of Caerleon to the
north of the city was once the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire
and home to hundreds of soldiers. Today, visitors can explore
the remains of the legion's amphitheatre, barracks and baths whilst
the National Roman Legion Museum
tells the town's story.
Head from Roman times up to the 21st century, and 2010
in particular. The eyes of the sporting world focused
on Newport when Golf's Ryder Cup was staged at the Celtic Manor
Resort. The tournament put this world class resort firmly in
the spotlight and it now boasts 3 world class golf courses
including the famous 2010 course which saw Europe triumph in
It's not only the golf that makes a visit to the Celtic Manor
worthwhile. The resort boasts a luxurious 400 room hotel
together with fine dining restaurants and spa
There's plenty of other accommodation available in the area with
high quality accommodation available from the like of Hilton and Holiday Inn whilst for
something a little bit different you can stay in a lighthouse
overlooking the Severn Estuary.
To download your copy of the Newport 360 visitor guide, please click here
Take a look at this video of Merthyr Tydfil. It might not
be the obvious choice when thinking of a holiday in Wales, but as
the video proves there's so much to do and some stunning
Wales makes no secret of the fact that it is a country
full of history and heritage. And where better to find out
all about it than at the superb National History Museum.
Situated just 4 miles from the centre of Cardiff, in the pretty
grounds of St Fagans Castle, a 16th century manor house,
the museum's collections comprise over 40 historic buildings from
every corner of Wales. Moved from their original location,
they were then transported to the site before being re-built brick
by brick by skilled craftsmen.
Buildings on site include farm buildings, a school, a workingman's
institute and a row of 5 Ironworkers' cottages originally from
Merthyr Tydfil where each cottage is decorated in a style from
different eras, from 1805 to 1985.
Undoubtedly, the most impressive building on the site is the
12th century St Teilo's Church. Originally
standing on the banks of the Lougher estuary near Swansea, the
church was carefully dismantled before being transported to St
Fagans where it was restored both inside and out in a
16th century style. The whole relocation project
took an incredible 20 years to complete before the church was
opened to the public in 2007.
As well as the buildings, visitors to the museum can see skilled
craftsmen and women at work in their various workshops. A
blacksmith, Welsh clog maker, potter, saddler, miller and backer
can all be seen making their wares using traditional
Entry is free. For more information visit their
guest blog has been written by Steffan Matthias, Agent and Surveyor
at Llancaiach Fawr Manor near Caerphilly.
You'll have to excuse the writing style. After all,
Steffan is almost 400 years old.
"My Master Edward Prichard owns the capital Manor House of
Llancaiach Fawr in the parish of Gelligaer in this year of our Lord
1645. He is one of the most powerful men in Glamorgan, being a
landowner, a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace, and a Commissioner
of Array for his Majesty King Charles.
You shall be afforded a most gracious welcome to my Master his
house. Edward Prichard is the direct descendant of Cedrych ap
Gwaithfoed, the olden Lord of Ystrad Twyi. My Master still follows
the ancient traditions of Perchentyaeth, the obligations brought by
the office and privilege of Landowner.
The Master will offer protection and hospitality via his servants,
who will attend gentle visitors and provide guidance about his fair
house and speak of their experiences and their lives in the house
during this most horrid Civil War. Fortunately Llancaiach is far
removed from the distractions of War, and all of my Master's
visitors will be assured of a safe haven and pleasant discourse
during their visit."
Llancaiach Fawr is a Grade One listed Manor House that has been
restored and furnished according to its appearance during 1645.
Visitors will now encounter live role-playing interpreters
portraying the household staff during the time of the Civil
For more information please visit the Llancaiach Fawr website
This has got to be one of my favourite
attractions in Wales. It's the Big Pit National Coal Museum in
Blaenavon. It tells the story of the coal mining industry
throughout the Southern Wales valleys.
The highlight of the visit is the underground tour. Take a ride
in the lift to the bottom of the pit where you'll get an
appreciation of what the men, women and boys who worked down here
had to endure in years gone by.
If that's not enough for you, speak to your guide. They are all
genuine ex-miners and as well as taking you around the pit, they'll
also tell you of first hand tales of what life was like for them
Oh and the best bit - it's all free.
The Easter holidays are now well underway and
with the glorious sunshine here in Southern Wales it's time to get
out and about.
Last week's Easter Idea was a trip to Techniquest in Cardiff
Bay. Today we head North out of the capital city
and into the Southern Wales Valleys and to the Big Pit National
Coal Museum at Blaenavon.
The award winning museum is easily one of the best attractions in
Wales. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the
restored pit head baths and exhibitions on the surface but the real
highlight is underground tour.
Head to the lamp room to be kitted out in your helmet and lamp and
then step inside the cage for your journey for the 300 feet journey
to the bottom of mine. Your guide around the pit will be an
ex-miner who will be able to tell you first hand stories of what
life was like for them and their colleagues working
Entry to the museum is free and is open 7 days a week.
More information can be found here.
Remember, if you do visit, tell us what you thought of it by
leaving a comment below.
Friday sees the opening of Cardiff's latest visitor attraction -
The Cardiff Story.
The Cardiff Story is a fascinating new museum telling the story of
how our capital city has evolved from a small fortress town,
through to the biggest coal exporting port in the world and onwards
to the modern thriving city of today's Cardiff.
The story of how the capital became the city we know today is
fascinating and often unexpected, but until now there has been no
single place where that story is told.
The museum opens in the Old Library in The Hayes district of the
city centre on Friday 1 April.
The town of Dazu in China is a World Heritage Site,
notable for an exceptional series of rock carvings from the 9th to
13th century. There are 50,000 figures in total, remarkable
for their aesthetic quality and the insight they give to life in
China during this period.
So, why in a blog all about Wales am I telling you
Well, these remarkable carvings have never been seen outside of
China until now. But from today until the 3rd
April some these figures go on display at the National Museum in
Cardiff. The museum is the only venue for this exhibition
before the artifacts return to their home in Dazu.
The exhibition is imaginatively titled From Steep Hillsides:
Ancient Rock Carvings from Dazu, China. It contains
superb examples that have become detached from their original
setting, along with accurate replicas of some of the most important
sculptures and dramatic large-scale images.
The National Museum is situated in Cardiff City Centre. As
well as extensive archaeological displays the museum is home to a
superb exhibition on the evolution of Wales as well as large art
gallery which includes one of biggest collections of impressionist
paintings outside Paris. And best of all, entry to the museum
For more information on the National Museum and the Dazu
Exhibition visit their website
Recently during an office conversation I made a startling
revelation to my colleagues, I had never been to St Fagans National
History Museum! Gasps of horror could be heard throughout the
office followed by complete disbelief. Having lived in South
Wales all my life I had to admit that I had reached the age of 32
and never been to this well known attraction.
Once the initial shock had subsided the afternoon was filled
with stories of people reminiscing about their visits, from school
trips to taking their own children to this fantastic place.
Have also admitted that the rest of my family and my own children
had been, I felt it was about time that I went to discover this
place for myself. I also couldn't bear the look of disgust
from my fellow workers any longer!
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and so I decided that this
would be a perfect time to find out what I was missing. On
arrival at the museum I was struck by how unlike a museum it
was. There were coach loads of people milling around the
entrance which houses the coffee shop and souvenir shop, no hushed
voices just people enjoying themselves.
Greeted by the friendly front of house staff I was equally
surprised to learn that entrance is free.
kindly accompanied by a St Fagans veteran, who having mocked my
lack of knowledge agreed to show me around. Walking through
the open air museum I couldn't believe how much they had to
offer. Now in my 32 years, St Fagans hadn't completely
escaped me and I did have some knowledge of what was there although
I think it's fair to say that it's only when you visit you get a
true sense of how wonderful this place is. Catering for all
ages, there were young families, groups of school children
(including a number of international students) as well as older
couples and groups all marvelling at the history, the wonderful
buildings and the story behind each one. Over forty original
buildings from various historical periods and locations in Wales
have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland and with traditional
craftsmen still occupying some of the buildings the traditional
crafts and activities bring the place alive.
Keeping cool from the summer sun the resident Blacksmith was
keen to show us his workshop while the aroma from the Derwen Bake
House filled the air.
As well as all this, there is a year round programme of events
(including an autumn food festival) and even a working farm, where
you'll soon be able to buy some of what they produce.
I couldn't resist the traditional sweet shop and a treat for the
office was too tempting to ignore. Taking the road train
whilst tucking into some Sherbert Lemons was the perfect finish to
a fabulous day.
I can't believe it's taken me this long to visit this wonderful
piece of Welsh history and I certainly won't be waiting too long to
return. it's no wonder it Wales' most visited heritage
attraction, and after yesterday they definitely have one more