Spending a relaxing day walking through Cardiff Bay was a fun introduction to Wales in Great Britain. We had initially come into Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, to visit the now defunct Dr. Who Experience, which was incredibly entertaining. Besides Dr. Who, we found the bay to be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon of sightseeing, dining, and breathing in some clean sea air. Cardiff Bay was lovely.
The story of this historic bay can be traced back to the Third Marquis of Bute, who at one time was the wealthiest man in the world, thanks to Cardiff Bay. During the industrial age, this city was one of the most powerful due to its coal mining industry. Cardiff exported coal to the rest of the world, which helped build Cardiff into the capital city of Wales, as well as creating wealth for the Marquis who owned the docks.
Cardiff became an international city with about 50 different nationalities, who came to the city for work. Today the city has a unique multicultural character and neighborhoods.
After WWII Cardiff Bay had become a neglected section of the city, once the industry closed down. The docks became a wasteland and had above average levels of unemployment. Decades later during the 1990s, renovation and redevelopment started from its mudflats to building apartments. Within a decade Cardiff Bay was unrecognizable from its past derelict state, the docks had been transformed into a family friendly and desirable area.
Today, Cardiff Bay is thriving with buildings from the Victorian age to modern day, delicious restaurants at Mermaid Quay, fun shopping, and cool attractions.
Two of my favorite standout buildings at Cardiff Bay were the Millennium Centre and the Pierhead Building, which were extremely different from each other. The historical Pierhead is a Grade I French Gothic Renaissance building which dates back to 1897, and boasts intricate details such as carved friezes, gargoyles, and hexagonal chimneys.
The distinctive clock tower is unofficially referred to as the “Baby Big Ben” or the “Big Ben of Wales”. What I appreciated was the dark rust coloring of the building, which is created by its construction of glazed terracotta blocks.
The Pierhead was originally opened as the headquarters of the Cardiff Railway Company. It is now opened to the public as a museum and exhibition that covers Welsh history from the Neolithic period, to its coal export days. For more information, please visit – The Pierhead
The Wales Millennium Centre is on the opposite design spectrum from the Pierhead, and it is sleek and stunning. This centre hosts art performances including opera, the ballet, musicals, concerts and theatre comedy. The building comprises of one large theatre, and two smaller halls with restaurants, bars and shops.
The Millenium Centre’s importance to the country’s culture is significant as it houses eight arts organizations, including the national orchestra and opera, literature companies, theatre and dance. For more information, please visit – Wales Millennium Centre
Although the Dr. Who Experience is now gone, Cardiff Bay is still an entertaining location to visit in Wales. There is history, culture, delicious dining and much more within the capital city of Wales. For tourist information of Cardiff and things to do, please visit their official website – Visit Cardiff
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