Cardiff Castle – In Photos

Out of all the castles I’ve seen recently, Cardiff Castle is by far the best. It packs in more WOW! factor than all the rest combined.

Cardiff Castle feature

My A49 road trip had quickly turned into a castle themed road trip and the castle theme continued as I headed into Wales and made my way down to Cardiff. It turned out I’d saved the best till last as Cardiff Castle was the most magnificent of the lot.

Cardiff Castle
The city encroaches on the castle walls

Cardiff Castle dominates the city – it’s at the end of the shopping streets, near the river, not far from the Millennium Stadium – and is set in some rather nice parkland, which I unfortunately didn’t get time to explore.

Cardiff Castle
The old and the new – the Millennium Stadium can be seen behind the castle

At £12.50 the entry price is quite steep. I realised that at this price this would likely be my one and only visit and so I needed to make sure I saw everything. With this in mind I stumped up an extra £3.25 for a guided tour of the apartments. The tour includes rooms that are off-limits to people wandering round on their own so is worth doing even just for this reason. However, the guide also turned out to be really informative which made me feel I’d invested my £3.25 well.

Cardiff Castle
Nothing has been left undecorated – every inch is covered.

To say the apartments are ornate is a massive understatement. They are completely over-the-top, ceilings, walls, doorways, fireplaces, crammed with detailed decoration. It was impossible to take it all in. The guide pointed out lots of little details I’d not noticed, but he must have only mentioned 1% of what there was to see.

Cardiff Castle - boy behind bars deccoration
When you’ve already included everything possible that’s ‘normal’ as part of your decorative theme you have to start thinking outside the box. And coming up with things like this boy behind bars.
Cardiff Castle - trumpeter sculpture
And why not have a guy blowing his horn too?

I took so many photographs; they’re not as great as I would’ve liked as I wasn’t allowed to use flash or a tripod, but they still give a pretty good idea of how amazing this place is.

Cardiff Castle
Here the piper can be seen against the greater background.

Many of the walls are covered in detailed murals.

Cardiff Castle - nursery
The children’s nursery

The murals in the children’s nursery are on tiles running round the top of the walls. They picture a  series of fairy stories.

Cardiff Castle - decapitated giants' heads as wall mural
Jack the Giant Killer is supposedly the fairy tale portrayed here.

Severed heads on poles aren’t everyone’s idea of a suitable theme for a nursery, but why let potential childhood nightmares get in the way of a good bit of artistic decor?

Cardiff Castle
More detail from the nursery murals.
Cardiff Castle - dining room
I thought this ceiling in the dining room was really fancy until I saw some of the others. This one is so boring in comparison.
Cardiff Castle - elaborate ceiling
Here’s an even fancier ceiling.
Cardiff Castle - elaborate ceiling
And another one.

Cardiff Castle

This is the room the previous ceiling belongs to. I could imagine sitting in here with a pot of coffee and the morning papers.

Cardiff Castle

This green bedroom wasn’t really to my style, but I still wouldn’t say no to a night here.

Cardiff Castle - bedroom

I always look forward to seeing the libraries in big old houses and castles and the one in Cardiff Castle didn’t disappoint.

Cardiff Castle - library
I didn’t count the books, but I think they must have almost as many as me.

I love a good library. I actually prefer the ones with sofas and big round tables, but this one was still very nice and I went back to it a couple of times.

Cardiff Castle - library
There might not have been sofas and round tables, but there were plenty of reading nooks and a few square tables.

For a 360° look at the library check out this site.

Cardiff Castle - tower
The Clock Tower

The castle has several towers, all of which have rooms inside. The one in the picture above is the Clock Tower and is the best looking from the outside. On the inside it has a double-height smoking room, bedrooms and servants’ rooms.

Cardiff Castle - roof garden
The secret garden atop Bute Tower. Although it looks as though that should be a pond in the middle, it’s not. In the summer the containers are filled with flowers.

The nicest tower from the inside though, had to be the Bute Tower. This has a secret roof garden. I always love secret gardens, walled gardens and roof gardens and this ticked all three boxes.

Cardiff Castle

It was designed in the latter 18oos and the walls depict stories from the Old Testament. Some of the text on them was written in Hebrew which interested me. I studied Biblical Hebrew as part of my degree. I’m very rusty now, but still like to have a go at attempting to read it.

Cardiff Castle

As well as Hebrew text, there were other alphabets used in the decoration around the castle. These colourful stained glass and mosaic windows have what I think are Greek words as part of their design.

Cardiff Castle
Decoration above the library fireplace.

And the Biblical figures here are holding scrolls, each one of which is displaying a different ancient alphabet.

Everything I saw in the castle apartments had the wow factors in bucket loads, but the room that the drew the most gasps was the Arab Room.

Cardiff Castle - elaborate ceiling
The Arab Room – just look at those walls! That ceiling!

You can’t actually go into this room – just stand in the doorway and peek your head inside. People crowded round the doorway only reluctantly drawing themselves away.

Cardiff Castle - elaborate ceiling
I mean really – THAT CEILING!!!

The Arab Room, so called because of its Moorish influenced design, was intended as a drawing room for the ladies. I wonder if Burges (the male architect) was equating Victorian ladies having tea with the European male fantasy of the Middle Eastern harem when he came up with this idea? I’ll forgive him if he was because it just looks so stunning.

If you want to see more of the Arab Room this website has a 360° view of it.

Cardiff Castle
The castle keep

It took a while, but I finally dragged myself away from the apartments and went to explore the rest of the castle.

I climbed the steep steps to the keep and walked round the castle walls.

Cardiff CastleI saw birds of prey …

Cardiff Castle - owl

… a moat …

Cardiff Castle - moat

… and a green-roofed museum.

Cardiff Castle

The museum had a lot of army history and also an exposed section of the old Roman wall.

Cardiff Castle - museum

Before I left, I had one more bit to see.

Cardiff Castle - entrance to the bomb shelter

The passageways that run through the inside of the walls were used as bomb shelters for the people of Cardiff during the Second World War.

Cardiff Castle - beds in the bomb shelters

They went on and on and included sections lined with bunk beds. I suppose you’d have had to get in early to score one of the beds. I wonder if you had to bring your own bedding? Or was someone responsible for keeping the place clean and washing the bedding?

Cardiff Castle - cafe in the bomb shelter

There was even a cafeteria. I didn’t spot any loos though. Or a place to have a wash.

And of course there were a lot of propaganda and informational posters on the walls.

My day at Cardiff Castle had been great. I’d been lucky enough to have lovely weather, but as there’s plenty to do inside (those apartments!), it would still be well-worth a visit even in the rain. Oh, and do pay the extra so you can see ALL the rooms and the secret roof garden.

Cardiff Castle

So what do you think? Do you agree with me that Cardiff Castle is the best ever? Or do you know of one with even more wow factor? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Author: Anne

Join me in my journey to live a life less boring, one challenge at a time.
Author of the forthcoming book ‘Walking the Kungsleden: One Woman’s Solo Wander Through the Swedish Arctic’.

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