The sights of Wales are varied and amazing. Natural parks and nature reserves come first, followed by castles and pastoral villages scattered in picturesque valleys.
Wales is one of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom is located in the southwest of the United Kingdom and is surrounded on three sides by the sea. The landscapes here are so amazing that several areas have been given official status, which translates as “an area of exceptional natural beauty.
Top 5 attractions in Wales
Wales has never been an autonomous region; it is inextricably linked to patriarchal England, zealously observing its traditions. Nevertheless, Scottish, English, and Irish influences are closely intertwined here, which has left an indelible mark on the identity of the region. If you ask residents what they think best describes Wales, most would say parks and castles.
Indeed, the first evidence of settlement dates back to the end of the Ice Age. The territory was never empty, some inhabitants replaced others, cities gradually emerged and crafts developed. That’s why there are so many ancient castles, monasteries, castles and just ancient buildings in Wales, remembering the past centuries.
A large part of the territory is occupied by national parks, which are very popular with tourists.
Snowdonia National Park
It is so beautiful that it has long been a favorite place for hikers. For climbers, it is also of particular interest because on some peaks there are 2 ways: use natural strength and dexterity or leisurely ride a cable car to the very top. The park was named for the dominant peak, Snowdon. Carnedai and Gliderai peaks are beautiful and quite famous in their own way. In some respects, the mountain range resembles the Alps in miniature.
The variety of landscapes in a limited area makes one amazed once again by the exuberant imagination of nature, which created this amazing place. Among the emerald slopes lurk dark blue lakes, into which the midday sun looks shyly, noisy waterfalls rushing down on the mossy rocks, fanciful stream beds hide among the roots of sprawling trees. Castles and railroads complete the landscape, turning it into the setting for a fantasy movie.
In addition to walking, you can also do rock climbing, kayaking, ride the tourist train and watch rare species of birds in the park. There are a lot of them here, their nesting places are taken care of:
- Peregrine Falcons;
Among the representatives of the animal world, squirrels and badgers most often come out to people. On the coast there are seals, turtles, in the distance from the shore flashing dolphins.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales
It is a major port, an industrial center, a modern university town and at the same time a center of ancient architecture. The main architectural landmarks of Wales are concentrated in the city, and their photos with names are often placed on posters and calendars. Well known to tourists from the color images, they look very different in reality. More majestic and thorough, looking like frozen giants, they keep the memory of centuries gone by. Many monuments are listed as national treasures of Great Britain.
The oldest bastion is considered to be Cardiff Castle. It is located almost in the center of the city on a low hill, giving a strategic advantage to the defenders. The castle was built more than 2 thousand years ago on the site of ancient Roman ruins. The main task of the construction was to protect the inhabitants of the fortress from external enemies, who were constantly looking at the tidbit by the sea. The fortress is hard and impregnable on the outside, but inside is like a secret box.
The external severity of the walls is balanced by the luxury of the interiors, decorated with decorative carvings, frescoes, tapestries and paintings. The castle was lucky with the owners, they were the Biyut family. The father made a large capital, and the talented son multiplied it many times.
The Marquis’s money and the talent of the architect Burges allowed for the extensive restoration of the outer perimeter and interior halls of the castle. This is how one of the most interesting and impressive sights in Wales came about. Tourists are welcomed by hospitable open gates, behind which luxurious gardens are fragrant and peacocks stroll along the paths.
There are 3 amazing churches in the city that belong to the list of the oldest buildings:
- Llandaff Temple;
- Norwegian Church;
- The chapel of John the Baptist, which over time has become a beautiful temple.
When visiting Cardiff, you should definitely make time for a trip to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Nature is not stingy with colors, creating an extraordinary contrast of perfectly flat strip of golden sand, gently hiding under the waves of all shades of blue, framed by green groves on the rugged cliffs. The landscape does not resemble an unrestrained riot of the tropics at all. It is much more subdued, but more native, and not in vain has the fame of one of the best coastal parks in the world.
In Wales, besides Cardiff, there are many small towns and very tiny settlements. It is a fairly densely populated region, with the bulk of the population concentrated in the southern part, around the administrative center.
In the Middle Ages, most castles in Europe were small sovereign states where the feudal lord administered court and ruled over his subjects. Almost every city in Wales has its own castle, around which a suburb was once formed and then grew to become a large settlement.
It is difficult to find in the United Kingdoms such a number of castles in 1 square kilometer, tourists tend to come to Wales and look at this “castle reserve”, where to meet two identical architectural complexes is impossible.
The fortress from a bird’s-eye view strikes with proportional forms, resembling a hexagonal snowflake. It was built on the moor by order of Edward I as part of a defense complex designed to consolidate the monarch’s power in the region. Built according to all the rules of fortification art, it is girded by a double wall with watch and signal towers, in the courtyard and along the perimeter there are rooms for supplies in case of a long siege. The talented architect Jacques Saint-Georges accomplished the impossible, calculating and building a fortress, which on the shaky swampy ground has successfully stood for 8 centuries and is perfectly preserved to this day.
In the city of the same name, in addition to the fortress it is worth paying attention to the church of St.. The city’s courthouse, the old prison, and St. Mary’s.
The place for its construction was not chosen by chance. In Roman times, on the shores of the Menai Strait stood a beautifully fortified fort, which over time lost its defensive value and gradually collapsed. The Normans in the 13th century built a new citadel on the old foundations, confidently protecting the inhabitants from uninvited guests coming from the sea. The architect could not fully complete the construction because the fortress was like a small city, it cost about the same to build. Nevertheless, the main fortifications and facilities were built and nine towers proudly tower above the surrounding area, each with a name.
Carnarvon lost the election for the role of capital, but won the privilege of being the first city from which the new ruler takes office.
It was thanks to the castle the city appeared on the geographical maps and historical chronicles. The fortress was built according to the concentric principle, was part of the “iron ring” and protected from sea and land aggressors. When it was planned, the possibility of replenishing its supplies from the sea was counted. In the corners of the rectangular courtyard there are watchtowers with covered galleries for archers.
Three sides of the fortress are additionally protected by incoming rocks, the fourth is blocked by a powerful gate. It withstood several sieges, after which legends were formed about the heroism of its defenders. The first commandant of the fortress was its creator, Master James. Now the fortress is open to all comers, each year several tens of thousands of tourists come here.
When thinking about what to see in Wales, you can’t ignore the smallest city, which barely has 2,000 inhabitants. Located on the western peninsula of St. David’s, it occupies a modest area but leaves an unforgettable impression on every guest.
It is here that the most stroppy cathedral in Wales is located. It has given its creators so many unpleasant surprises that the construction is still not finished. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The Cathedral of St. David has collapsed spontaneously, suffered from earthquakes and hostilities, and has been struck by lightning, but it is constantly being rebuilt, not surprising since Bishop Bernard was able to obtain papal privileges that equate a visit to the cathedral with a pilgrimage to Rome.
Travelers in Wales are waiting not only castles and museums, but also interesting colorful festivals. Since the Middle Ages there has been a tradition of holding an annual song and dance festival called the Eistetvod. The first, according to chronicles, took place at Cardigan Castle in 1176. The festivities bring together participants from many European countries, so viewers will be an unforgettable spectacle.