Quick facts for kids
Dinas a Sir Caerdydd
City and County of Cardiff
"Y ddraig goch ddyry cychwyn"
("The red dragon will lead the way")
City and County of Cardiff
and (inset) within Wales
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ceremonial county||South Glamorgan|
|Local government||Cardiff Council|
|• City & County||140.3 km2 (54.2 sq mi)|
|• Urban||75.72 km2 (29.24 sq mi)|
|• City & County||346,100|
|• Density||2,466.9/km2 (6,389/sq mi)|
|• Urban density||5,907.1/km2 (15,299.4/sq mi)|
|• Metro||1,097,000 (Cardiff-Newport)|
|Time zone||UTC0 (GMT)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (BST)|
|Vehicle area codes||CA, CB, CC, CD, CE, CF, CG, CH, CJ, CK, CL, CM, CN, CO|
|Police Force||South Wales Police|
|Fire Service||South Wales Fire and Rescue Service|
|Ambulance Service||Welsh Ambulance Service|
|Primary Airport||Cardiff Airport|
|GDP||US$ 36.0 billion|
|GDP per capita||US$ 29,674|
Cardiff (i//; Welsh: ' [kairˈdiːð, kaˑɨrˈdɨːð]) is the capital and largest city in Wales and the eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is the country's chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. The unitary authority area's mid-2011 population was estimated to be 346,100, while the population of the Larger Urban Zone was estimated at 861,400 in 2009. The Cardiff metropolitan area makes up over a third of the total population of Wales, with a mid-2011 population estimate of about 1,100,000 people. Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations.
The city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan (and later South Glamorgan). Cardiff is part of the Eurocities network of the largest European cities. The Cardiff Urban Area covers a slightly larger area outside the county boundary, and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth. A small town until the early 19th century, its prominence as a major port for the transport of coal following the arrival of industry in the region contributed to its rise as a major city.
Cardiff was made a city in 1905, and proclaimed the capital of Wales in 1955. Since the 1980s, Cardiff has seen significant development. A new waterfront area at Cardiff Bay contains the Senedd building, home to the Welsh Assembly and the Wales Millennium Centre arts complex. Current developments include the continuation of the redevelopment of the Cardiff Bay and city centre areas with projects such as the Cardiff International Sports Village, a BBC drama village, and a new business district in the city centre.
Sporting venues in the city include the Millennium Stadium (the national stadium for the Wales national rugby union team), SWALEC Stadium (the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club), Cardiff City Stadium (the home of Cardiff City football team), Cardiff International Sports Stadium (the home of Cardiff Amateur Athletic Club) and Cardiff Arms Park (the home of Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC rugby union teams). The city was awarded the title of European City of Sport twice, due to its role in hosting major international sporting events: first in 2009 and again in 2014. The Millennium Stadium hosted 11 football matches as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics, including the games' opening event and the men's bronze medal match.
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Caerdydd (the Welsh name of the city) derives from the earlier Welsh form Caerdyf. The change from -dyf to -dydd shows the colloquial alteration of Welsh f [v] and dd [ð], and was perhaps also driven by folk etymology (dydd is Welsh for 'day' whereas dyf has no obvious meaning). This sound change had probably first occurred in the Middle Ages; both forms were current in the Tudor period. Caerdyf has its origins in post-Roman Brythonic words meaning "the fort of the Taff". The fort probably refers to that established by the Romans. Caer is Welsh for fort and -dyf is in effect a form of Taf (Taff), the river which flows by Cardiff Castle, with the ⟨t⟩ showing consonant mutation to ⟨d⟩ and the vowel showing affection as a result of a (lost) genitive case ending.
The anglicised form Cardiff is derived from Caerdyf, with the Welsh f [v] borrowed as ff //, as also happens in Taff (from Welsh Taf) and Llandaff (from Welsh Llandaf). As English does not have the vowel [ɨ] the final vowel has been borrowed as /ɪ/.
The antiquarian William Camden (1551–1623) suggested that the name Cardiff may derive from "Caer-Didi" ("the Fort of Didius"), a name supposedly given in honour of Aulus Didius Gallus, governor of a nearby province at the time when the Roman fort was established. Although some sources repeat this theory, it has been rejected on linguistic grounds by modern scholars such as Professor Gwynedd Pierce.
Archaeological evidence from sites in and around Cardiff – the St Lythans burial chamber, near Wenvoe (about four miles (6.4 km) west, south west of Cardiff city centre), the Tinkinswood burial chamber, near St Nicholas (about six miles (10 km) west of Cardiff city centre), the Cae'rarfau Chambered Tomb, Creigiau (about six miles (10 km) north west of Cardiff city centre) and the Gwern y Cleppa Long Barrow, near Coedkernew, Newport (about eight and a quarter miles (13.5 km) north east of Cardiff city centre) – shows that people had settled in the area by at least around 6,000 years before present (BP), during the early Neolithic; about 1,500 years before either Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed. A group of five Bronze Age tumuli is at the summit of The Garth (Welsh: Mynydd y Garth), within the county's northern boundary. Four Iron Age hill fort and enclosure sites have been identified within Cardiff's present-day county boundaries, including Caerau Hillfort, an enclosed area of 5.1 hectares (51,000 m2).
Until the Roman conquest of Britain, Cardiff was part of the territory of the Silures – a Celtic British tribe that flourished in the Iron Age – whose territory included the areas that would become known as Breconshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorgan. The 3.2-hectare (8-acre) fort established by the Romans near the mouth of the River Taff in 75 AD, in what would become the north western boundary of the centre of Cardiff, was built over an extensive settlement that had been established by the Romans in the 50s AD. The fort was one of a series of military outposts associated with Isca Augusta (Caerleon) that acted as border defences. The fort may have been abandoned in the early 2nd century as the area had been subdued. However, by this time a civilian settlement, or vicus, was established. It was likely made up of traders who made a living from the fort, ex-soldiers and their families. A Roman villa has been discovered at Ely. Contemporary with the Saxon Shore Forts of the 3rd and 4th centuries, a stone fortress was established at Cardiff. Similar to the shore forts, the fortress was built to protect Britannia from raiders. Coins from the reign of Gratian indicate that Cardiff was inhabited until at least the 4th century; the fort was abandoned towards the end of the 4th century, as the last Roman legions left the province of Britannia with Magnus Maximus.
Little is known about the fort and civilian settlement in the period between the Roman departure from Britain and the Norman Conquest. The settlement probably shrank in size and may even have been abandoned. In the absence of Roman rule, Wales was divided into small kingdoms; early on, Meurig ap Tewdrig emerged as the local king in Glywysing (which later became Glamorgan). The area passed through his family until the advent of the Normans in the 11th century.
Norman occupation to the Middle Ages
In 1081 William I, King of England, began work on the castle keep within the walls of the old Roman fort. Cardiff Castle has been at the heart of the city ever since. The castle was substantially altered and extended during the Victorian period by John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, and the architect William Burges. Original Roman work can, however, still be distinguished in the wall facings.
A town grew up in the shadow of the castle, made up primarily of settlers from England. Cardiff had a population of between 1,500 and 2,000 in the Middle Ages, a relatively normal size for a Welsh town in this period. It was the centre of the Norman Marcher Lordship of Glamorgan and by the end of the 13th century, Cardiff was the only town in Wales with a population exceeding 2,000, although it remained relatively small compared with most notable towns in the Kingdom of England, and continued to be very much contained by its walls, which has begun as a wooden palisade in the early 12th century. It was none-the-less of sufficient size and importance to be awarded a series of charters, notably in 1331 by William La Zouche, Lord of Glamorgan through marriage with the de Clare family, Edward III in 1359, then Henry IV in 1400, and later Henry VI. In no small part due to the historic Anglicisation of the town, in 1404 Owain Glyndŵr burned Cardiff and took possession of the Castle. As many buildings in the town were made of timber, and tightly packed together within the town walls, much of Cardiff was destroyed. Ironically given the treatment of Cardiff by Glyndwr, a statue of him was erected in Cardiff Town Hall in the early twentieth century, reflecting the complex and often conflicting cultural identity Cardiff has as the capital of Wales. However, the town was soon rebuilt on the same street plan and began to flourish once again. In additional to serving an important political role in the governance of the fertile south Glamorgan coastal plain, Cardiff was a busy port in the Middle Ages due to its location on the Bristol trading routes, and was declared a Staple port in 1327. This furthermore led to the town gaining a reputation for piracy, which by the Early Modern period led to much dispute between the burgesses of Cardiff and the surrounding county families.
County town of Glamorganshire
In 1536, the Act of Union between England and Wales led to the creation of the shire of Glamorgan, and Cardiff was made the county town. It also became part of Kibbor hundred. Around this same time the Herbert family became the most powerful family in the area. In 1538, Henry VIII closed the Dominican and Franciscan friaries in Cardiff, the remains of which were used as building materials. A writer around this period described Cardiff: "The River Taff runs under the walls of his honours castle and from the north part of the town to the south part where there is a fair quay and a safe harbour for shipping."
Cardiff had become a Free Borough in 1542 and further Royal Charters were granted to the town by Elizabeth I in 1600 and James I in 1608. In 1573, it was made a head port for collection of customs duties. Pembrokeshire historian George Owen described Cardiff in 1602 as "the fayrest towne in Wales yett not the welthiest.", and the town gained a second Royal Charter in 1608.
A disastrous flood of the Bristol Channel on 30 January 1607 (now believed to be a tsunami) led to a change in the course of the River Taff and the ruining of St Mary's Parish Church, which was replaced by its chapel of ease, St John the Baptist.
During the Second English Civil War, St Fagans just to the west of the town, played host to the Battle of St Fagans. The battle, between a Royalist rebellion and a New Model Army detachment, was a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians and allowed Oliver Cromwell to conquer Wales. It is the last major battle to occur in Wales, with about 200 (mostly Royalist) soldiers killed.
In the ensuing century Cardiff was at peace. In 1766, John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute married into the Herbert family and was later created Baron Cardiff, and in 1778 he began renovations on Cardiff Castle. In the 1790s a racecourse, printing press, bank and coffee house all opened, and Cardiff gained a stagecoach service to London. Despite these improvements, Cardiff's position in the Welsh urban hierarchy had declined over the 18th century. Iolo Morgannwg called it "an obscure and inconsiderable place", and the 1801 census found the population to be only 1,870, making Cardiff only the 25th largest town in Wales, well behind Merthyr and Swansea.
Building of the docks
In 1793, John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute was born. He would spend his life building the Cardiff docks and would later be called "the creator of modern Cardiff". A twice-weekly boat service between Cardiff and Bristol was established in 1815, and in 1821, the Cardiff Gas Works was established.
After the Napoleonic Wars Cardiff entered a period of social and industrial unrest, starting with the trial and hanging of Dic Penderyn in 1831.
The town grew rapidly from the 1830s onwards, when the Marquess of Bute built a dock, which eventually linked to the Taff Vale Railway. Cardiff became the main port for exports of coal from the Cynon, Rhondda, and Rhymney valleys, and grew at a rate of nearly 80% per decade between 1840 and 1870. Much of the growth was due to migration from within and outside Wales: in 1841, a quarter of Cardiff's population were English-born and more than 10% had been born in Ireland. By the 1881 census, Cardiff had overtaken both Merthyr and Swansea to become the largest town in Wales. Cardiff's new status as the premier town in South Wales was confirmed when it was chosen as the site of the University College South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1893.
A permanent military presence was established in the town with the completion of Maindy Barracks in 1877.
Cardiff faced a challenge in the 1880s when David Davies of Llandinam and the Barry Railway Company promoted the development of rival docks at Barry. Barry docks had the advantage of being accessible in all tides, and David Davies claimed that his venture would cause "grass to grow in the streets of Cardiff". From 1901 coal exports from Barry surpassed those from Cardiff, but the administration of the coal trade remained centred on Cardiff, in particular its Coal Exchange, where the price of coal on the British market was determined and the first million-pound deal was struck in 1907. The city also strengthened its industrial base with the decision of the owners of the Dowlais Ironworks in Merthyr (who would later form part of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds) to build a new steelworks close to the docks at East Moors, which Lord Bute opened on 4 February 1891.
City and capital city status
King Edward VII granted Cardiff city status on 28 October 1905, and the city acquired a Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1916. In subsequent years an increasing number of national institutions were located in the city, including the National Museum of Wales, Welsh National War Memorial, and the University of Wales Registry Building—however, it was denied the National Library of Wales, partly because the library's founder, Sir John Williams, considered Cardiff to have "a non-Welsh population".
After a brief post-war boom, Cardiff docks entered a prolonged decline in the interwar period. By 1936, their trade was less than half its value in 1913, reflecting the slump in demand for Welsh coal. Bomb damage during the Cardiff Blitz in World War II included the devastation of Llandaff Cathedral, and in the immediate postwar years the city's link with the Bute family came to an end.
The city was proclaimed capital city of Wales on 20 December 1955, by a written reply by the Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George. Caernarfon had also vied for this title. Cardiff therefore celebrated two important anniversaries in 2005. The Encyclopedia of Wales notes that the decision to recognise the city as the capital of Wales "had more to do with the fact that it contained marginal Conservative constituencies than any reasoned view of what functions a Welsh capital should have". Although the city hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1958, Cardiff only became a centre of national administration with the establishment of the Welsh Office in 1964, which later prompted the creation of various other public bodies such as the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Development Agency, most of which were based in Cardiff.
The East Moors Steelworks closed in 1978 and Cardiff lost population during the 1980s, consistent with a wider pattern of counter urbanisation in Britain. However, it recovered and was one of the few cities (outside London) where population grew during the 1990s. During this period the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was promoting the redevelopment of south Cardiff; an evaluation of the regeneration of Cardiff Bay published in 2004 concluded that the project had "reinforced the competitive position of Cardiff" and "contributed to a massive improvement in the quality of the built environment", although it had failed "to attract the major inward investors originally anticipated".
In the Welsh devolution referendum, 1997, Cardiff voters rejected the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales by 55.4% to 44.2% on a 47% turnout, which Denis Balsom partly ascribed to a general preference in Cardiff and some other parts of Wales for a 'British' rather than exclusively 'Welsh' identity. The relative lack of support for the Assembly locally, and difficulties between the Welsh Office and Cardiff Council in acquiring the original preferred venue, Cardiff City Hall, encouraged other local authorities to bid to house the Assembly. However, the Assembly eventually located at Tŷ Hywel in Cardiff Bay in 1999; in 2005, a new debating chamber on an adjacent site, designed by Richard Rogers, was opened.
The centre of Cardiff is relatively flat and is bounded by hills on the outskirts to the east, north and west. Its geographic features were influential in its development as the world's largest coal port, most notably its proximity and easy access to the coal fields of the south Wales valleys. The highest point in the authority is Garth Hill 307 metres (1,007 feet) above sea level.
Cardiff is built on reclaimed marshland on a bed of Triassic stones; this reclaimed marshland stretches from Chepstow to the Ely Estuary, which is the natural boundary of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. Triassic landscapes of this part of the world are usually shallow and low-lying which accounts and explains the flatness of the centre of Cardiff. The classic Triassic marl, sand and conglomerate rocks are used predominantly throughout Cardiff as building materials. Many of these Triassic rocks have a purple complexion, especially the coastal marl found near Penarth. One of the Triassic rocks used in Cardiff is "Radyr Stone", a freestone which as it name suggests is quarried in the Radyr district. Cardiff has also imported some materials for buildings: Devonian sandstones (the Old Red Sandstone) from the Brecon Beacons has been used. Most famously, the buildings of Cathays Park, the civic centre in the centre of the city, are built of Portland stone which was imported from Dorset. A widely used building stone in Cardiff is the yellow-grey Liassic limestone rock of the Vale of Glamorgan, including the very rare "Sutton Stone", a conglomerate of lias limestone and carboniferous limestone.
Cardiff is bordered to the west by the rural district of the Vale of Glamorgan—also known as The Garden of Cardiff— to the east by the city of Newport, to the north by the South Wales Valleys and to the south by the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel. The River Taff winds through the centre of the city and together with the River Ely flows into the freshwater lake of Cardiff Bay. A third river, the Rhymney flows through the east of the city entering directly into the Severn Estuary.
Cardiff is situated near the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, stretching westward from Penarth and Barry—commuter towns of Cardiff—with striped yellow-blue Jurassic limestone cliffs. The Glamorgan coast is the only part of the Celtic Sea that has exposed Jurassic (blue lias) geology. This stretch of coast, which has reefs, sandbanks and serrated cliffs, was a ship graveyard; ships sailing up to Cardiff during the industrial era often never made it as far as Cardiff as many were wrecked around this hostile coastline during west/south-westerly gales. Consequently, smuggling, deliberate shipwrecking and attacks on ships were common.
|Llantrisant, Rhondda||Pontypridd, Brecon, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly||Newport, Chepstow|
|Maesteg, Neath, Bridgend||Bristol Channel|
|Llantwit Major, Cardiff International Airport||Penarth, Dinas Powys, Barry||Bristol Channel|
- See also: List of places in Cardiff
"Inner Cardiff" consists of the following wards: Plasnewydd, Gabalfa, Roath, Cathays, Adamsdown and Splott ward on the north and east of the city centre, and Butetown, Grangetown, Riverside and Canton to the south and west. The inner-city areas to the south of the A4161 road (known as the "Southern Arc") are, with the exception of Cardiff Bay, some of the poorest districts of Wales with low levels of economic activity. On the other hand, Gabalfa, Plasnewydd and Cathays north of the 'arc' have very large student populations, and Pontcanna (situated north of Riverside and alongside Canton) is a favourite for students and young professionals. Penylan, which lies to the north east side of Roath Park, is an affluent area popular with those with older children and the retired.
To the west lie Ely, Caerau and Fairwater which contain some of the largest housing estates in the United Kingdom. With the exception of some of the outlying privately built estates at Michaelston Super Ely and 1930s developments near Waun-Gron Road, this is an economically disadvantaged area with high numbers of unemployed households. Culverhouse Cross is a more affluent western area of the city. Heath, Birchgrove, Gabalfa, Mynachdy, Llandaff North, Llandaff, Llanishen, Radyr, Whitchurch & Tongwynlais, Rhiwbina, Thornhill, Lisvane and Cyncoed lie in an arc from the north west to the north east of the centre. In particular, Lisvane, Cyncoed, Radyr and Rhiwbina contain some of the most expensive housing in Wales. Further to the east lie the wards of Pontprennau & Old St Mellons, Rumney, Pentwyn, Llanrumney and Trowbridge. The latter three are again largely of public housing stock, although new private housing is being built in Trowbridge in considerable number. Pontprennau is the newest 'suburb' of Cardiff, whilst Old St Mellons has a history going back to the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. To the north west of the city lies a region that may be called "Rural Cardiff" containing the villages of St. Fagans, Creigiau, Pentyrch, Tongwynlais and Gwaelod-y-garth. St. Fagans, home to the Museum of Welsh Life, is protected from further development.
Since 2000, there has been a significant change of scale and building height in Cardiff, with the development of the city centre's first purpose-built high-rise apartments. Tall buildings have been built in the city centre and Cardiff Bay, and more are planned.
- See also: Climate of the United Kingdom#Wales
|Weather chart for Cardiff|
|temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: Met Office, 1981–2010 averages
Cardiff lies within the north temperate zone and has an essentially maritime climate (Köppen: Cfb), characterised by mild weather that is often cloudy, wet and windy. Summers tend to be warm and sunny, with average maximum temperatures between 19 and 22 °C (66 and 72 °F). Winters tend to be fairly wet, but rainfall is rarely excessive and the temperature usually stays above freezing. Spring and autumn feel quite similar and the temperatures tend to stay above 14 °C (57 °F)—also the average annual daytime temperature. Rain is unpredictable at any time of year, although the showers tend to be shorter in summer.
The northern part of the county, being higher and inland—for example, The Garth (Welsh: Mynydd y Garth), about 7 miles (11 km) north west of Cardiff city centre, (elevation 1,007 feet (307 m))—tends to be cooler and wetter than the city centre.
Cardiff's maximum and minimum monthly temperatures average 21.5 °C (70.7 °F) (July) and 2.1 °C (35.8 °F) (February).
For Wales, the temperatures average 19.1 °C (66.4 °F) (July) and 1.1 °C (34.0 °F) (February).
Cardiff has 1518 hours of sunshine during an average year (Wales 1388.7 hours). Cardiff is sunniest during July, with an average 203.4 hours during the month (Wales 183.3 hours), and least sunny during December with 44.6 hours (Wales 38.5 hours).
Cardiff experiences less rainfall than the average for Wales. Rain falls in Cardiff on 146 days during an average year, with total annual rainfall of 1,111.7 millimetres (43.77 in). Monthly rainfall pattern shows that from September to January average monthly rainfall in Cardiff exceeded 100 millimetres (3.9 in) each month, the wettest month being December with 128 millimetres (5.0 in). Cardiff's driest months are from April to July, with average monthly rainfall fairly consistent, at between 60.5 and 65.9 millimetres (2.38 and 2.59 in).
|Climate data for Cardiff (1981–2010) Extremes (1960–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||13.8
|Average high °C (°F)||8.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.3
|Average low °C (°F)||2.3
|Record low °C (°F)||-10.3
|Precipitation mm (inches)||121.6
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||15.7||11.1||13.0||11.1||11.2||10.1||10.7||11.0||11.0||15.5||14.5||13.9||148.6|
|Source #1: Met Office|
|Source #2: KNMI|
|Source: Vision of Britain except 2011, which is the 2011 census data from the Office for National Statistics. Historical populations are calculated with the modern boundaries|
Following a period of decline during the 1970s and 1980s, Cardiff's population is growing. The local authority area had a population of 346,100 at the 2011 census, compared to a 2001 Census figure of 305,353. Between mid-2007 and mid-2008, Cardiff was the fastest-growing local authority in Wales with population growth rate of 1.2%. According to Census 2001 data, Cardiff was the 21st largest urban area. The Cardiff Larger Urban Zone (a Eurostat definition including the Vale of Glamorgan and a number of local authorities in the Valleys) has 841,600 people, the 10th largest LUZ in the UK. The Cardiff and South Wales Valleys metropolitan area has a population of nearly 1.1 million people.
Official estimates derived from the census regarding the city's total population have been disputed. The city council has published two articles that argue the 2001 census seriously under reports the population of Cardiff and, in particular, the ethnic minority population of some inner city areas.
Cardiff has an ethnically diverse population due to its past trading connections, post-war immigration and the large numbers of foreign students who attend university in the city. The ethnic make-up of Cardiff's population at the time of the 2011 census was: 84.7% White, 1.6% mixed White and Black African/Caribbean, 0.7% mixed White and Asian, 0.6% mixed other, 8% Asian, 2.4% Black, 1.4% Arab and 0.6% other ethnic groups. This means that almost 53,000 people from a non-white ethnic group reside in the city. This diversity, and especially that of the city's long-established African and Arab communities, has been celebrated in a number of cultural exhibitions and events, along with a number of books which have been published on this subject.
- See also: Cardiff dialect
Cardiff has a chequered linguistic history with Welsh, English, Latin, Norse and Norman French preponderant at different times. Welsh was the majority language in Cardiff from the 13th century until the city's explosive growth in the Victorian era. As late as 1850, five of the 12 Anglican churches within the current city boundaries conducted their services exclusively in the Welsh language, while only two worshipped exclusively in English. By 1891, the percentage of Welsh speakers had dropped to 27.9% and only Lisvane, Llanedeyrn and Creigiau remained as majority Welsh-speaking communities. The Welsh language became grouped around a small cluster of chapels and churches, the most notable of which is Tabernacl in the city centre, one of four UK churches chosen to hold official services to commemorate the new millennium. Following the establishment of the city's first Welsh School (Ysgol Gymraeg Bryntaf) in the 1950s, Welsh has slowly regained some ground. Aided by Welsh-medium education and migration from other parts of Wales, the number of Welsh speakers in Cardiff rose by 14,451 between 1991 and 2001; Welsh is now spoken by 11% of Cardiffians. The LSOA (Lower Layer Super Output Area) with the highest percentage of Welsh speakers in the city-centre is found in Canton, at 25.5%. The LSOA with the highest percentage of Welsh speakers in the entirety of Cardiff is found in Whitchurch at 26%.
In addition to English and Welsh, the diversity of Cardiff's population (including foreign students) means that a large number of languages are spoken within the city. One study has found that Cardiff has speakers of at least 94 languages, with Somali, Urdu, Bengali and Arabic being the most commonly spoken foreign languages.
The modern Cardiff accent is distinct from that of the nearby South Wales Valleys. It is marked primarily by:
- The substitution of ⟨iə⟩ by ⟨øː⟩
- here [hiə] pronounced as [(h)jøː] in the broader form
- A more mid-centralised pronunciation of ⟨ʌ⟩ as in love and other
- The vowel of start may be realised as [æː] or even [ɛː], so that Cardiff is pronounced [ˈkæːdɪf].
Due to its diversity, large student population, and convenient size and location, Cardiff has seen a rise in the number of people coming to the city to learn English. Foreign students are a common sight on the streets of Cardiff with a large percentage coming from Arabic and other European countries. The British Council has an office in the city centre and there are six accredited schools in the area.
Since 1922 Cardiff has included the suburban cathedral 'village' of Llandaff, whose bishop is also Archbishop of Wales since 2002. There is also a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city. Since 1916 Cardiff has been the seat of a Catholic archbishop, but there appears to have been a fall in the estimated Catholic population, with estimated numbers in 2006 being around 25,000 less than in 1980. Likewise, the Jewish population of the city also appears to have fallen—there are two synagogues in Cardiff, one in Cyncoed and one in Moira Terrace, as opposed to seven at the turn of the 20th century. There are a significant number of nonconformist chapels, an early-20th century Greek Orthodox church and 11 mosques. In the 2001 census 66.9% of Cardiff's population described itself as Christian, a percentage point below the Welsh and UK averages.
The oldest of the non-Christian communities in Wales is Judaism. Jews were not permitted to live in England and Wales between the 1290 Edict of Expulsion—given by Edward I of England—and the 17th century. A Welsh Jewish community was re-established in the 18th century. There was once a fairly substantial Jewish population in South Wales, most of which has disappeared. The Cardiff Jewish community congregations are consolidated in the present, modern building in Cyncoed Gardens, dedicated by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in 2003. Educational options for Jewish adults are expanding in Cardiff via courses offered by Rabbi Michoel Rose and The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute.
In the 2001 census Cardiff's Muslim population stood at 3.7%, above the UK average (2.7%) and significantly above the Welsh average. Cardiff has one of the longest-established Muslim populations in the UK, started by Yemeni sailors who settled in the city during the 19th century. The first mosque in the UK (on the site of what is now known as the Al-Manar Islamic Centre) opened in 1860 in the Cathays district of Cardiff. Cardiff is now home to over 11,000 Muslims from many different nationalities and backgrounds, nearly 52% of the Welsh Muslim population.
The proportion of Cardiff residents declaring themselves to be Hindu, Sikh and Jewish were all considerably higher than the Welsh averages, but less than the UK figures. The city has been home to a sizable Hindu community since Indian immigrants settled there during the 1950s and 1960s. The first Hindu temple in the city was opened in Grangetown on 6 April 1979 on the site of an abandoned printing press (which itself was the former site of a synagogue). The 25th anniversary of the temple's founding was celebrated in September 2007 with a parade of over 3000 people through the city centre, including Hindus from across the United Kingdom and members of Cardiff's other religious communities. Today, there are over 2000 Hindus in Cardiff, worshiping at three temples across the city.
In the 2001 census 18.8% of the city's population stated they had no religion, while 8.6% did not state a religion.
There are seven NHS hospitals in the city, the largest of which is the University Hospital of Wales. The University Hospital of Wales is the third largest hospital in the UK and deals with most accidents and emergencies. The University Dental Hospital, which provides emergency dental treatment, is also located on this site. Llandough Hospital is located in the south of the city.
The city's newest hospital, St. David's Hospital (built behind the former building) is located in the Canton area and provides services for the elderly and children. Cardiff Royal Infirmary is located on Newport Road, near the city centre. The majority of this hospital was closed in 1999 but with the West Wing remaining open for clinic services, genitourinary medicine and rehabilitation treatment. Rookwood Hospital and Whitchurch Hospital are also located within the city, along with Rookwood Hospital and Velindre Cancer Centre. All hospitals in Cardiff are administered by the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, with the exception of the Velindre site which is run by a separate trust. In addition Spire Healthcare has a private hospital in the city which is located in Pentwyn.
Cardiff is the major transport hub in Wales and is the focus for many arterial road and rail routes that connect the city with the rest of Wales, and with England.
Cardiff Central railway station is the largest railway station in Wales with seven platforms, through which over 10 million passengers a year pass. It provides direct services to nearby Bridgend and Newport, long distance 'Cross-Wales' services to Wrexham and Holyhead, and cities such as Bristol, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Cardiff Queen Street railway station is the second busiest in Wales and is the hub for routes via the Valley Lines services that connect the South Wales valleys and the Cardiff suburbs with the city centre on the former site of Temperance Town. It is located at the eastern end of the city centre, and also provides services to Cardiff Bay.
Cardiff has a suburban rail system known as Valley Lines, which is operated by Arriva Trains Wales. There are eight lines which serve 20 stations in the city, 26 in the wider urban area (including Taffs Well, Penarth and Dinas Powys) and more than 60 in the South Wales valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan.
Domestic and international air links to Cardiff and South & West Wales are provided from Cardiff Airport (CWL), the only international airport in Wales. The airport is situated in the village of Rhoose, 10 miles (16 km) west of the city. There are regular bus services linking the airport with the Cardiff Central Bus Station as well as a train service from Rhoose Cardiff International Airport railway station to Cardiff Central.
Road and bus
The M4 is the principal motorway in the region that connects Cardiff with Swansea to the west, and Newport and London to the east. Cardiff is served by three junctions of the M4, plus A48(M), which leads onto the M4. The A470 is another major road within the city that provides an important link to the north with the Heads of the Valleys road, mid and north Wales. The A4232 (also known as the Peripheral Distributor Road or PDR) when completed, will form part of the Cardiff ring-road system along with the M4 motorway between junctions 30 and 33.
Cardiff has a comprehensive bus network, with municipal bus company Cardiff Bus providing the vast majority of routes in the city and to Newport, Barry and Cardiff International Airport, its hub is Cardiff Central Bus Station. National Express and Megabus provides direct services to major cities such as Swansea, London, Newcastle upon Tyne and Manchester
The Taff Trail is a walking and cycle path running for 55 miles (88.5 km) between Cardiff Bay and Brecon in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It runs through Bute Park, Sophia Gardens and many other green areas within Cardiff. It is possible to cycle the entire distance of the Trail almost completely off-road, as it largely follows the River Taff and many of the old disused railways of the Glamorganshire valleys. On Sundays in summer the Beacons Bike Bus enables cyclists to take their bikes into the Beacons and then ride back to Cardiff along the Trail.
The Aquabus runs every hour between the city centre (Taff Mead Embankment) and Cardiff Bay (Mermaid Quay), and between Cardiff Bay and Penarth (Cardiff Bay barrage). Throughout the year Cardiff Waterbus sail between the Pierhead on Cardiff's Waterfront and the Penarth end of the Cardiff Bay Barrage with short sightseeing cruises.
Between March and October boats depart from Cardiff Bay to take visitors to Flat Holm Island. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral sail from Britannia Quay (in Roath Basin) to various destinations in the Bristol Channel.
- See also: List of Wales dialling codes
029 is the current telephone dialling code for Cardiff, as well as for the neighbouring towns of Penarth, Dinas Powys and Caerphilly. The dialling code is optional when dialling within the area, with it being possible to dial between any two phones within the 029 code using only the eight-digit local number.
Prior to the Big Number Change on 22 April 2000 the area had shorter, six-digit local numbers with an area code of 01222 (with 0222 preceding this, prior to May 1995). There remains a common misconception that local numbers are still six digits long and that the code is 02920, despite the existence of newer Cardiff numbers in the ranges (029) 21xx xxxx and (029) 22xx xxxx.
Landmarks and attractions
- See also: Architecture of Cardiff
Cardiff has many landmark buildings such as the Millennium Stadium, Pierhead Building the Welsh National Museum and the Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales. Cardiff is also famous for Cardiff Castle, St David's Hall, Llandaff Cathedral and the Wales Millennium Centre.
Cardiff Castle is a major tourist attraction in the city and is situated in the heart of the city centre. The National History Museum at St Fagans in Cardiff is a large open-air museum housing dozens of buildings from throughout Welsh history that have been moved to the site in Cardiff. The Civic Centre in Cathays Park comprises a collection of Edwardian buildings such as the City Hall, National Museum and Gallery of Wales, Cardiff Crown Court, and buildings forming part of Cardiff University, together with more modern civic buildings. These buildings are laid out around the Queen Alexandra Gardens, a formal park which contains the Welsh National War Memorial and a number of other, smaller, memorials.
In addition to Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch (Red Castle) is located in Tongwynlais, in the north of the city. The current castle is an elaborately decorated Victorian folly designed by William Burges for the Marquess and built in the 1870s, as an occasional retreat. However, the Victorian castle stands on the footings of a much older medieval castle possibly built by Ifor Bach, a regional baron with links to Cardiff Castle also. The exterior has become a popular location for film and television productions. It rarely fulfilled its intended role as a retreat for the Butes, who seldom stayed there. For the Marquess, the pleasure had been in its creation, a pleasure lost following Burges's death in 1881.
Cardiff claims to have the largest concentration of castles of any city in the world. As well as Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch, there are the remains of two Motte and Bailey castles in Radyr and Rhiwbina (both known as the "Twmpath", a Welsh word for a small mound), which along with a castle at Whitchurch (known as Treoda and destroyed by housing in the 1960s) formed an arc of fortifications which divided the Norman lordship from the Welsh lordship of Senghenydd. Further up the Cefn Cibwr ridge on the boundary with Caerphilly there is also another ruined castle, known as Castell Morgraig. Archaeological evidence suggests this castle was never finished, and it is debated whether the fortification was of Norman or Welsh origin. The concentration of these castles is indicative of the moveable nature of the border between the Norman lordship of Glamorgan, centred at Cardiff, and its Welsh neighbours to the north.
While not strictly castles in the historic sense, there is also the ruined Llandaff Bishop's Palace, a fortified residence belonging to the Bishops of Llandaff and Saint Fagans Castle, a preserved seventeenth century manor house, once seat of the Earls of Plymouth.
Other major tourist attractions are the Cardiff Bay regeneration sites which include the recently opened Wales Millennium Centre and the Senedd, and many other cultural and sites of interest including the Cardiff Bay Barrage and the famous Coal Exchange. The New Theatre was founded in 1906 and completely refurbished in the 1980s. Until the opening of the Wales Millennium Centre in 2004, it was the premier venue in Wales for touring theatre and dance companies. Other venues which are popular for concerts and sporting events include Motorpoint Arena, St David's Hall and the Millennium Stadium. Cardiff Story, a museum documenting the city's history, has been open to the public since Spring 2011.
Cardiff has over 1,000 listed buildings, ranging from the more prominent buildings such as the castles, to smaller buildings, houses and structures. Cathedral Road was developed by the 3rd Marquis of Bute and is lined by fine villas, some backing on to Sophia Gardens.
Cardiff has walks of special interest for tourists and ramblers alike, such as the Centenary Walk, which runs for 2.3 miles (3.7 km) within Cardiff city centre. This route passes through many of Cardiff's landmarks and historic buildings.
Culture and recreation
Cardiff has many cultural sites varying from the historical Cardiff Castle and out of town Castell Coch to the more modern Wales Millennium Centre and Cardiff Bay. Cardiff was a finalist in the European Capital of Culture 2008. In recent years Cardiff has grown in stature as a tourist destination, with recent accolades including Cardiff being voted the eighth favourite UK city by readers of the Guardian. The city was also listed as one of the top 10 destinations in the UK on the official British tourist boards website Visit Britain, and US travel guide Frommers have listed Cardiff as one of 13 top destinations worldwide for 2008. Annual events in Cardiff that have become regular appearances in Cardiff's calendar include Sparks in the Park, The Great British Cheese Festival, Cardiff Mardi Gras, Cardiff Winter Wonderland, Cardiff Festival and Made in Roath.
Music and performing arts
A large number of concerts are held within the city, the larger ones being performed in St David's Hall, the Motorpoint Arena (previously known as the Cardiff International Arena) and occasionally the Millennium Stadium. A number of festivals are also held in Cardiff—the largest of these is the Cardiff Big Weekend Festival, which is held annually in the city centre during the summer and plays host to free musical performances (from artists such as Ash, Jimmy Cliff, Cerys Matthews, the Fun Loving Criminals, Soul II Soul and the Magic Numbers), fairground rides and cultural events such as a Children's Festival that takes place in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The annual festival claims to be the UK's largest free outdoor festival, attracting over 250,000 visitors in 2007.
Cardiff hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1883, 1899, 1938, 1960, 1978 and 2008. Cardiff is unique in Wales in having two permanent stone circles used by the Gorsedd of Bards during Eisteddfodau. The original circle stands in Gorsedd Gardens in front of the National Museum while its 1978 replacement is situated in Bute Park. Since 1983, Cardiff has hosted the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, a world-renowned event on the opera calendar which is held every two years. The city also hosts smaller events.
A number of performing arts venues are located within the city—the largest and most prominent of these is the Wales Millennium Centre, which hosts performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals, and (as of autumn 2008) is home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. St David's Hall (which hosts the Singer of the World competition) has regular performances of classical music and ballet as well as music of other genres. The largest of Cardiff's theatres is the New Theatre, situated in the city centre just off Queen Street. Other such venues include the Sherman Theatre, Chapter Arts Centre and the Gate Arts Centre.
The Cardiff music scene is established and wide-ranging—it is home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera, has produced several leading acts itself and, as a capital city, has acted as a springboard for numerous Welsh bands to go and become famous both nationally and internationally. Acts who hail from Cardiff include Charlotte Church, Shirley Bassey, Iwan Rheon, the Oppressed, Kids In Glass Houses, Los Campesinos, the Hot Puppies, the School, We're No Heroes, Budgie and Shakin' Stevens. Also, performers such as the Automatic, Manic Street Preachers, Lostprophets, Super Furry Animals, Catatonia and Bullet for My Valentine have links with the city and are associated with the Cardiff music scene. In 2010, Cardiff was named the UK's second 'most musical' city by PRS for Music.
- See also: Art in Cardiff
Cardiff has held a photomarathon in the city each year since 2004, in which photographers compete to take the best 12 pictures of 12 previously unknown topics in 12 hours. An exhibition of the winners and other entries is held in June / July each year.
Cardiff has a strong nightlife and is home to many bars, pubs and clubs. Most clubs and bars are situated in the city centre, especially St. Mary Street, and more recently Cardiff Bay has built up a strong night scene, with many modern bars & restaurants. The Brewery Quarter on St. Mary Street is a recently developed venue for bars and restaurant with a central courtyard. Charles Street is also a popular part of the city.
Cardiff is known for its extensive parkland, with parks and other such green spaces covering around 10% of the city's total area. Cardiff's main park, Bute Park (which was formerly the castle grounds) extends northwards from the top of one of Cardiff's main shopping street (Queen Street); when combined with the adjacent Llandaff Fields and Pontcanna Fields to the north west it produces a massive open space skirting the River Taff. Other popular parks include Roath Park in the north, donated to the city by the 3rd Marquess of Bute in 1887 and which includes a very popular boating lake; Victoria Park, Cardiff's first official park; and Thompson's Park, formerly home to an aviary removed in the 1970s. Wild open spaces include Howardian Local Nature Reserve, 32 acres (130,000 m2) of the lower Rhymney valley in Penylan noted for its Orchids, and Forest Farm Country Park, over 150 acres (0.61 km2) along the river Taff in Whitchurch.
Cardiff is one of the top ten retail destinations in the UK, with two main shopping streets (Queen Street and St. Mary Street), and three main shopping arcades; St. David's Centre, Queens Arcade and the Capitol Centre. The current expansion of St. David's Centre as part of the St. David's 2 project has seen it become one of the largest shopping centres in the United Kingdom. As well as the modern shopping arcades, the city is also home to many Victorian shopping centres, such as High Street Arcade, Castle Arcade, Wyndham Arcade, Royal Arcade and Morgan Arcade. Also of note is The Hayes, home to Spillers Records, the world's oldest record shop. Cardiff has a number of markets, including the vast Victorian indoor Cardiff Central Market and the newly established Riverside Community Market, which specialises in locally produced organic produce. Several out-of-town retail parks exist, such as Newport Road, Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff Gate and Cardiff Bay.
Twin towns and sister cities
Cardiff has twinning arrangements with:
- Luhansk, Ukraine.
- Hordaland county, Norway.
- Sucre, Bolivia.
- Nantes, France.
- Stuttgart, Germany.
- Xiamen, China.
- Lima, Peru.
A total of 28 countries have a diplomatic presence in Cardiff. Many of these nations, such as Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, Thailand and the Czech Republic are represented by honorary consulates. The British Embassy of the United States operates a satellite office.
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