With more than 2,000 years of history enclosed within its walls, Cardiff Castle is a popular destination for history buffs who visit the capital city of Wales. The earliest fortifications on the site were likely built by the Romans around A.D. 50. Today, all that remains of the Roman era is a small section of the surrounding wall, from which this photo was taken. After their conquest in the 11th century, Normans built the castle keep (above center). After Medieval times, the Cardiff Castle passed to a string of noble families, ending with the fabulously wealthy Bute family. The 2nd Marquess of Bute turned Cardiff into the world’s greatest coal exporting port and his son, John, was said to be the richest man in the world. They transformed the castle lodgings into a proper Victorian mansion, lavishing it with murals, stained glass, marble, gilded ornaments, and elaborate wood carvings.
Following the death of the 4th Marquess of Bute, the family decided to donate the castle and much of the adjacent parkland to the city of Cardiff. But Cardiff Castle isn’t just for history lovers. Kids love climbing up to the Norman Keep in the center of the compound. Fans of horror movies take delight in the dungeon beneath the Black Tower, were untold prisoners were tortured. Anyone interested in architecture will enjoy tours of the Victorian mansion and castle apartments. And absolutely everyone loves climbing the spiral staircase to the top of the Clock Tower (far left, above) to see the winter and summer smoking rooms. Find more information about the castle on their web site.