Cardiff Castle

Cardiff, United Kingdom

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the city centre of Cardiff. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort. The castle was commissioned either by William the Conqueror or by Robert Fitzhamon, and formed the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff and the Marcher Lord territory of Glamorgan. In the 12th century the castle began to be rebuilt in stone, probably by Robert of Gloucester, with a shell keep and substantial defensive walls being erected. Further work was conducted by the 6th Earl of Gloucester in the second half of the 13th century. Cardiff Castle was repeatedly involved in the conflicts between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh, being attacked several times in the 12th century, and stormed in 1404 during the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr.

After being held by the de Clare and Despenser families for several centuries, the castle was acquired by The 13th Earl of Warwick and Comte de Aumale in 1423. Lord Warwick conducted extensive work on the castle, founding the main range on the west side of the castle, dominated by a tall octagonal tower. Following the Wars of the Roses, the status of the castle as a Marcher territory was revoked and its military significance began to decline. The Herbert family took over the property in 1550, remodelling parts of the main range and carrying out construction work in the outer bailey, then occupied by Cardiff's Shire Hall and other buildings. During the English Civil War Cardiff Castle was initially taken by a Parliamentary force, but was regained by Royalist supporters in 1645. When fighting broke out again in 1648, a Royalist army attacked Cardiff in a bid to regain the castle, leading to the Battle of St Fagans just outside the city. Cardiff Castle escaped potential destruction by Parliament after the war and was instead garrisoned, probably to protect against a possible Scottish invasion.

In the mid-18th century, Cardiff Castle passed into the hands of the Stuart dynasty, Marquesses of Bute. John, 1st Marquess of Bute, employed Capability Brown and Henry Holland to renovate the main range, turning it into a Georgian mansion, and to landscape the castle grounds, demolishing many of the older medieval buildings and walls. During the first half of the 19th century the family became extremely wealthy as a result of the growth of the coal industry in Glamorgan. However, it was the 3rd Marquess of Bute who truly transformed the castle, using his vast wealth to back an extensive programme of renovations under William Burges. Burges remodelled the castle in a Gothic revival style, lavishing money and attention on the main range. The resulting interior designs are considered to be amongst 'the most magnificent that the gothic revival ever achieved'. The grounds were re-landscaped and, following the discovery of the old Roman remains, reconstructed walls and a gatehouse in a Roman style were incorporated into the castle design. Extensive landscaped parks were built around the outside of the castle.

In the early 20th century, the 4th Marquess of Bute inherited the castle and construction work continued into the 1920s. The Bute lands and commercial interests around Cardiff were sold off or nationalised until, by the time of the Second World War, little was left except the castle. During the war, extensive air raid shelters were built in the castle walls; they could hold up to 1,800 people. When the Marquess died in 1947, the castle was given to the City of Cardiff. Today the castle is run as a tourist attraction, with the grounds housing the 'Firing Line' regimental museum and interpretation centre. The castle has also served as a venue for events, including musical performances and festivals.



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Founded: 11th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Abbie Poole (13 months ago)
Castle is beautiful, as is the grounds.. we didn't do guided tour but still £52 for 2 adults, 1 concession & 1 child and was probably only 6 rooms you can go in which was a bit disappointing although they are stunning rooms. The keep, has amazing views and walking the walls was good and the museum was very interesting too. The big problems for us was the loud music blaring from the "community cricket cup" which we found pretty awful and 100% took away from the peacefulness of the place and finally the toilets which were ABSOLUTELY HORRENDOUS..filthy, sanitary bins over flowing, no tissue, soaking floor!!!
Haydn Richards (13 months ago)
Thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Cardiff Castle. Beautiful grounds, which are open to the public for free. If you want to see the other sites within the walls, you'll need to pay the entrance fee and it is worth it and reasonably priced. Lots to see, explore and enjoy. Was nice to sit with a lolly and take in the views. Some beautiful architecture with a wealth of history. Highly recommend a visit.
Jon Turner (14 months ago)
Great place to visit. Not cheap but worth it. The extra charge small group guided tour is essential. The guide was great,interesting with a theme to the visit and loads of little-known facts to illuminate the experience. All the staff we spoke to made us feel welcome and they all knew their stuff. Well done.
Alessandro Balocco (15 months ago)
It was a very enjoyable visit at the Castle. We also made use of the app you can download using the free WiFi at the ticket desk and you can listen to the explanations for all the points of interest around the Castle. The visit to the house was definitely worth the ticket, the interiors were really nice. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are visiting Cardiff.
Leopard (18 months ago)
Really enjoyable visit. The ticket includes the old castle, the house, tunnels and the fire line exhibition. You can download the official Cardiff castle app for a free guidance and history of the Castle and surrounding place. You can also take your own coffee and food and sit for a free inside the Castle on the wooden beaches, or on the grass. I would recommend the place for everyone who is looking for the history of the castle, exploring history of Cardiff.
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