The Welsh capital is a city undergoing major changes, as is seen
by the amount of building and reconstruction taking place. Most
noticeable for the visitor emerging from the railway station, is
the Millennium Stadium, which dominates the skyline of the
city centre. This phenomenal development is in keeping with Cardiff’s
(Caerdydd’s) marketing slogan: ‘Europe’s Youngest
It is difficult to believe that less than a century earlier the
city had been one of the great powerhouses of the British Empire,
exporting coal from the nearby Valleys and steel from the plants
in South Wales. When these industries all but died out during the
last quarter of the 20th century, the future appeared bleak. Yet,
new employers have moved in to help fill the economic void. A measure
of this success is the fact that available hotel bed spaces in Cardiff
have increased by over 40 per cent in the past five years.
The city was officially recognised as a capital in 1955 and it retains
a friendly ‘small town’ quality that spirited self-promotion
and inward investment. It has a vibrant atmosphere and a lively
music scene and nightlife, in part to the presence of 26,000 or
so students based at the city’s universities.
The central area, with its seven Victorian shopping arcades and
traffic-free streets, runs from the railway station to the impressive
castle. This is Cardiff’s traditional commercial and social
heart but Cardiff Bay, two kilometres or one mile south, is gaining
ground in the entertainment and leisure stakes, amd becoming an
important administrative centre.
Cardiff embodies new confidence and the city’s ambitions also
clearly extend far beyond the nation’s boundaries. It is bidding
to become European Capital of Culture in 2008 – an indication
of the city’s new-found confidence.
Cardiff’s climate is temperate, without extreme variations
between seasons and rain, sometimes a lot of it, all year round.