Cardiff in more detail. Multipoint Aerials Cardiff.
Cardiff, Welsh: Caerdydd is the capital of Wales, and its largest city. The eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom, it is Wales's chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural institutions and Welsh media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. The unitary authority area's 2017 population was estimated to be 362,756, and the wider urban area 479,000. Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 21.3 million visitors in 2017. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations.
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. 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. The Cardiff Built-up Area covers a slightly larger area outside the county boundary and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth. In 1905, Cardiff was made a city 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 Principality Stadium—the national stadium and the home of the Wales national rugby union team—Sophia Gardens (the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club), Cardiff City Stadium (the home of Cardiff City football team and the Wales football team), Cardiff International Sports Stadium (the home of Cardiff Amateur Athletic Club), Cardiff Arms Park (the home of Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC rugby union teams) and Ice Arena Wales (the home of Cardiff Devils ice hockey team). The city hosted the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. 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 Principality Stadium hosted 11 football matches as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics, including the games' opening event and the men's bronze medal match.
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 *dyfhas 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 /f/, 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.
Tribes of Wales at the time of the Roman invasion and showing the modern Wales-England border
Archaeological evidence from sites in and around Cardiff: the St Lythans burial chamber near Wenvoe, (approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) to the west of Cardiff city centre); the Tinkinswood burial chamber, near St Nicholas (about 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Cardiff city centre), the Cae'rarfau Chambered Tomb, Creigiau (about 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of Cardiff city centre) and the Gwern y Cleppa Long Barrow, near Coedkernew, Newport (about 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Cardiff city centre), all show that people had settled in the area by at least around 6000 BC, 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 (13 acres).
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 AD 75, 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 villahas 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.
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 England and continued to be very much contained within its walls, which has begun as a wooden palisade in the early 12th century. It was 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 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, whose statue 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, the town was soon rebuilt on the same street plan and began to flourish once again. In addition 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 and was declared a staple port in 1327.
John Speed's map of Cardiff from 1610Cardiff old town hall (1860)Jubilee dock, Cardiff, from the eastern side (1849)
In 1536, the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 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 Morganwg 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.
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.
Welsh National War Memorial
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.
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
The city was recognised as the 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.
Redevelopment in the city's historic Cardiff Bay area
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 Corporationwas 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.
Cardiff City Hall in Cathays ParkThe Senedd, seat of the Welsh Assembly
Since local government reorganisation in 1996, Cardiff has been governed by the City and County Council of Cardiff, which is based at County Hall in Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff Bay. Voters elect 75 councillors every four years.
Between the 2004 and 2012 local elections, no individual political party held a majority on Cardiff County Council. The Liberal Democratsheld the largest number of seats and Cllr Rodney Berman was Leader of the Council. The Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru formed a partnership administration. In the 2012 elections the Labour Party achieved an outright majority, after gaining an additional 33 seats across the city.
The National Assembly for Wales has been based in Cardiff Bay since its formation in 1999. The building, known as the Senedd (which translates into English as Legislature, Parliament or Senate) was opened on 1 March 2006, by The Queen. The Assembly Members (AMs), the Assembly Commission and Ministerial support staff are based in Cardiff Bay. Cardiff elects four constituency Assembly Members (AMs) to the Assembly, with the individual constituencies for the Assembly being the same as for the UK Parliament. All of the city's residents have an extra vote for the South Wales Central region which increases proportionality to the Assembly. The most recent Welsh Assembly general election was held on 5 May 2016.
Crown Buildings are the Welsh Government's main offices in Cardiff
In the Assembly Cardiff is represented by Jenny Rathbone (Labour) in Cardiff Central, Julie Morgan (Labour) in Cardiff North, Vaughan Gething (Labour) in Cardiff South and Penarth and Mark Drakeford (Labour) in Cardiff West.
In Westminster, Cardiff is represented by Jo Stevens (Labour) in Cardiff Central, Anna McMorrin(Labour) in Cardiff North, Stephen Doughty(Labour) in Cardiff South and Penarth and Kevin Brennan (Labour) in Cardiff West.
The Welsh Government has its headquarters in Cardiff's Cathays Park where most of its civil servants are based, with smaller numbers in other locations in the city centre, Cathays, Canton, and Cardiff Bay. There are other Welsh Government offices in other parts of Wales such as Llandudno and Aberystwyth and international offices throughout the world.
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 marlfound near Penarth. One of the Triassic rocks used in Cardiff is "Radyr Stone", a freestone which as its 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.
"Inner Cardiff" consists of the following wards: Plasnewydd, Gabalfa, Roath, Cathays, Adamsdownand 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 northwest to the northeast of the centre. Lisvane, Cyncoed, Radyr and Rhiwbina contain some of the more expensive housing in Wales.
Further to the east lie the wards of Pontprennau & Old St Mellons, Rumney, Pentwyn, Llanrumney and Trowbridge. The last 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. The region that may be called "Rural Cardiff" contains the villages of St. Fagans, Creigiau, Pentyrch, Tongwynlais and Gwaelod-y-garth. In 2017, plans were approved to create a new suburb of 7,000 homes between Radyr and St Fagans; known as Plasdŵr. 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.
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, 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 1,151.9 millimetres (45.35 in). Monthly rainfall pattern shows that from October to January average monthly rainfall in Cardiff exceeded 100 millimetres (3.9 in) each month, the wettest month being December with 125.3 millimetres (4.93 in). Cardiff's driest months are from April to June, with average monthly rainfall fairly consistent, at between 65 and 75 millimetres (2.6 and 3.0 in).