Located in the heart of the capital of Wales, Cardiff Castle is one of the country’s leading heritage attractions. From having history dating back to 55AD to having tunnels that were once used as air-raid shelters during World War II, there are likely many things you didn’t know about the medieval castle of Cardiff…
The castle was a gift to the city
In the mid 18th century, the castle was occupied by the Marquesses of Bute up until the early 20th century when the 4th Marquess of Bute passed. Following his death, the castle and much of its surrounding parkland was gifted to the city of Cardiff by the family. A hand-over ceremony took place and the castle became protected as a grade I listed building and as a scheduled monument.
History dates back more than 2000 years
It’s thought that the first fort was built around 55AD on the site that was initially used by the Romans as a defensive location. Initially, it had formed part of the southern Roman border in Wales during the defeat of the Siltures. A fourth fort was erected during the 3rd century as a result of pirate threats along the coast. The Roman Army occupied this fort until the early 5th century when they withdrew from the area. Not much is known about the castle following the Roman’s departure.
It now acts as a music venue
Nowadays, as well as being a popular tourist attraction, it’s used as a venue for a range of cultural and social events including concerts and movie screenings. Bands such as Stereophonics and Green Day have performed at this venue that can reportedly hold 10,000 people. The castle is also often used to host live screenings of classic films with screenings taking place both inside the castle grounds and underground, offering a truly unique experience.
A unique blend of architectural styles makes up the castle
Cardiff Castle is known for being made up of unique blend of architectural styles from different building periods: Norman, Roman and Gothic Victorian. Following the Normal conquest, the castle’s keep was built re-using the site of the Roman fort but still retaining some of the Roman style. Its Gothic Victoria style was added during the 19th century by the 3rd Marquess of Bute and architect, William Burges.
The tunnels were used for air-raid shelters
During World War II, the castle’s tunnels were used as shelters from German air raids. Cardiff Castle’s shelters were the largest public shelters in the city – around 1800 people could have sheltered there. Huge inflatable balloons known as ‘Barrage Balloons’ were flown from inside the castle grounds. If enemy aircrafts were flying low enough, they would get tangled in the wires of the balloons. Or, if aircrafts noticed the balloons, they would be deterred from attacking that area in case their aircraft was brought down.
You can visit Cardiff Castle along with many more of Wales’ extraordinary castles through our Castle Tour of Wales package.
Spent 8 nights in Wales as you tour some of the country’s most popular castles, including Conwy, Pembroke, Criccieth Castle, Caernarfon and of course Cardiff, plus many more.