Last year, Cardiff was named the best UK city to live in and one of the best cities to live in Europe*. As someone who has lived in Cardiff for most of my life, I wasn’t at all surprised. The capital of Wales has so much to offer to residents and visitors alike.
On the one hand, Cardiff has a range of cultural and heritage attractions like Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Market and National Museum Cardiff, all of which tell a tale of Cardiff’s history and character throughout the ages.
But while culture and heritage play a huge role in Cardiff’s story, the city has been transformed by modern developments in recent years and is now home to St David’s shopping centre, which houses over 200 shops including Wales’ biggest department store, John Lewis and 300 apartments, in addition to the internationally renown Millennium Stadium and an International Sports Village in Cardiff Bay featuring an ice rink, Olympic-standard swimming pool and white water rafting centre.
In addition, this year Cardiff was dubbed one of the UK’s top five fastest-growing food and drink scenes by Eventbrite, with an 82% increase in food and drink events during the last year. The Welsh capital boasts a number of top quality restaurants, including Michelin-starred chef James Sommerin’s restaurant in Penarth (just outside Cardiff in the Vale of Glamorgan) and the Purple Poppadom Indian fine dining restaurant in Canton, listed in both the Michelin Guide and the Good Food Guide.
When Travelodge asked me to blog about the place that has the most sentimental value for me in Cardiff as part of its ‘Flaunt Your Haunt’ campaign, there was one place in particular that sprang to mind – St Fagans National History Museum in St Fagans, Cardiff.
One of Europe’s best open-air museums and Wales’ most popular heritage attraction, if you grew up in Wales then you can guarantee you went to St Fagans Museum on a school trip at least once, not to mention the family outings!
Established in 1947, St Fagans Museum is home to a Welsh village created using over 40 original buildings from various historical periods in Wales, transported from their original locations and re-erected on the 100-acre parkland.
The full list of buildings at St Fagans includes a bakery, tollhouse, tailor’s workshop, school-house, a post office and traditional farm houses as well as livestock. The buildings have been chosen because of their relevance to ordinary people from different social backgrounds and from different eras.
What makes the experience all the more nostalgic is that you can actually go into most of the buildings and inside, they are set up in the way they would’ve been all those years ago. As a child, I was always fascinated to see the blacksmith in action. Where the bakery, cheesemonger and Gwalia Stores are concerned, you can buy bread, cakes and traditional Welsh goods to enjoy when you get home.
My favourites of all the buildings at St Fagans Museum are the Rhyd-y-Car Ironworkers Houses – a row of six terraced houses dated from 1805 to 1985. Travel through time as you enter each house, the contents and gardens changing to reflect the different time periods.
The museum stands in the grounds of the beautiful St Fagans Castle and gardens, a late 16th-century manor house gifted to Wales by the Earl of Plymouth. You can step inside the castle and admire the breath-taking decor and furniture, although some parts of the building are inaccessible.
Looking to the future, St Fagans Museum will be extending the timeline of the stories told to include the first human inhabitants to the present day and beyond. This is thanks to an £11.5 million grant awarded to the museum in 2012 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This is the largest grant ever awarded by the HLF in Wales. The money will go towards Making History, the exciting £25.5 million project to transform this much-loved museum.
So, what are you waiting for? Get down to St Fagans National History Museum and enjoy a great day-out with all the family. Entry is free and the museum is open from 10am – 5pm daily, including Bank Holiday Mondays.
Have you been to St Fagans National History Museum? What were the highlights of your visit?
St Fagans National History Museum
(0300) 111 2 333
*According to the European Commission’s Urban Audit, which polled residents from 79 European cities, including six in the UK.
This post is sponsored by Travelodge.