Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle

Top Tourist Attractions

Opened in 55AD Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the city centre of Cardiff, Wales. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort.

Cardiff Castle (Welsh: Castell Caerdydd) is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the center of Cardiff, Wales. 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.

The Norman Keep

The most recognizable feature at Cardiff Castle is surely the impressive twelve-sided Keep, the finest example in Wales. This type is known as a ‘shell’ keep because its outer walls provided a protective shell for smaller buildings within. The stone Keep was built in the early 12th Century by Robert Consul, Earl of Gloucester, replacing the timber defenses of Robert Fitzhamon, Norman Lord of Glamorgan.

From the top of the Keep, the panoramic views of the city are breathtaking and to the north, you can see as far as Castell Coch. There are approximately 50 steep stone steps leading to the Keep entrance and further steps to reach the viewing platform, but it’s worth the effort!

The Castle Apartments

In 1865, the 3rd Marquess of Bute began a remarkable collaboration with art architect, William Burges. These two men, both fascinated by the past, transformed Cardiff Castle into their vision of the ultimate medieval dream palace.

  • See the spectacular fairy-tale rooms, rich with murals, gilding and elaborate wood carvings, stained glass, and marble. Lord Bute’s Study, this room was originally a working room for Lord Bute’s librarian but later became a study for the Marquess himself. Look out for the four parrots decorating the chimneypiece.
  • The Arab Room, this amazing interior was one of the last William Burges designed and dates from 1881, the year he died. The incredible ceiling is of a style known as a ‘muqarnas’. It is made of wood which has been covered in gold leaf and decorated.
  • The Banqueting Hall is the largest room in the castle and is the oldest part of the building. Although the actual walls date from the fifteenth century, all the surface decoration, ceiling, and floors are Victorian.
  • Small Dining Room, this room was used as a dining room for members of the Bute family when there were few or no guests. The room was transformed from a plain interior by William Burges and the 3rd Marquess of Bute around 1875.
  • The Drawing Room is the only major interior at Cardiff Castle that survives from the Eighteenth Century. The room was once very densely furnished with paintings, furniture, and ornaments, but these were removed when the family presented the castle to the city in 1947.
  • The Library is the oldest part of the house and part of it once formed the fifteenth-century Great Hall. The room is one of the most important in the castle as it still contains the original Burges bookcases and tables that were designed and made for this interior.

Castle Gift Shop

The Castle Gift Shop features an eclectic selection of beautiful gifts and keepsakes, inspired by the Castle collections. Welsh gold, crystal, and exquisite jewelry are on sale, plus a comprehensive range of postcards, books, and stationery.

Traditional Welsh crafts such as lovespoons are also available – individual designs can be commissioned.

A castle-themed children’s section has everything a would-knight or princess might need; games, books, costumes, and models. Pick up ‘The Essential Guide to Cardiff Castle’, the definitive guide to the site, covering over 2,000 years of history. Beautifully illustrated, this book is a perfect memento of a visit and a splendid gift. Specialist books on Burges, the Victorian Gothic, and castles in Wales are also on sale.

The Castle Café

Situated on the Castle’s spacious terrace, this spot has the best view in Cardiff! Relax in the covered, outdoor seating area and take in the spectacular views of the Norman Keep and the Castle grounds. Choose from a variety of hot and cold drinks and alcoholic beverages, or treat yourself to some tasty sweet treats. The Castle Cafe is part of the Castle’s Public Square

The Public Square

Lovely spot to relax after hitting the shops, or if you want to catch up with friends in a socially distanced setting, then come and use the public square in the beautiful setting of the Castle’s outer lawn. Members of the public are welcome to bring their food and drink into the Public Square but cannot consume it in the cafe seating area.

Castle Key

If you currently live or work in Cardiff then you are entitled to your very own Key to the Castle with FREE admission to this world-class heritage attraction for 3 years. IN September 1947, the Fifth Marquess of Bute handed over the keys of Cardiff Castle to Lord Mayor, Alderman George Ferguson. In what was described as “a gesture of truly royal nature” the Castle, along with its parkland, was presented as a gift to the people of the city. As reports at the time reflected, it was “no longer Cardiff Castle but Cardiff’s Castle”.

Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions and a site of international significance, a must-walk through the gates to discover a story 2,000 years in the making.