|South Wales incorporates
the capital Cardiff, the cities of Newport and Swansea, Carmarthen
Bay and two national parks, Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons
The modern city has two areas: the original centre and Cardiff Bay,
which is now the focus of leisure and tourism development as well
as home of the Welsh National Assembly.
In the city centre, parts of Cardiff Castle, even with extensive
rebuilding in the 19th century, date back to the Middle Ages. The
National Museum and Gallery, with Welsh archaeology, arts and crafts
as well as European paintings, are highlights, as are the nuemrous
attractive Victorian shopping arcades. The Millennium Stadium,
home of Welsh Rugby Union, is an attraction open for guided
tours on non-matchdays.
The Cardiff Bay area, about 2km or 1.5 miles south of the
centre, offers activities ranging from boat trips to the Barrage
(which now seals the Bay off from the open sea), to the Techniquest
Science Discovery Centre.
About 8km or 5 miles west of Cardiff is St Fagans with its
open-air Museum of Welsh Life.
The country's second largest city has over 45 parks, is a popular
seaside resort, and is close to the Gower Peninsula. However, it
is best known as the birthplace of Dylan Thomas (1914-1953).
A city centre walking trail begins at the Dylan Thomas Centre, and
takes visitors around sites associated with the poet and playwright.
Elsewhere is the Swansea Museum dates from the 1830s. The Egypt
Centre Museum specialises in Egyptology, while porcelain, pottery
and modern art feature at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. At Parc
Tawe, Plantasia is a high-tech tropical hothouse with plants and
greenery from all over the world. A new Arts Wing has opened in
Swansea's Grand Theatre, the city's main show venue. Mumbles, a
suburb of Swansea, is also an visited resort.
Chepstow, whose castle and town walls date back from
medieval times, straddles the English/Welsh border. Nearby Caerwent
is full of Roman remains. Between Cardiff and the English border
is Newport, Wales' third-largest town, home to a 15th-century
cathedral. South Wales' biggest inland draw is the Brecon Beacons
National Park, whose touring bases are Brecon and Abergavenny.
The narrow-gauge Brecon Mountain Railway travels through the hills
from Merthyr Tydfil.
In the Valleys, Blaenafon (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
offers industrial heritage attractions such as Big Pit Mining Museum
and the Ironworks. Caerphilly has an impressive castle, and
at nearby Treharris is Llancaiach Fawr Living History Museum. Many
resorts line the coast between Cardiff and Swansea, including Aberavon,
Barry and Porthcawl. Others, along the Gower Peninsula, include
Oxwich and Port Eynon.
The former county of Pembrokeshire, to the west, has many castles
as well as the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The best-known
religious building is the cathedral of St David's, Britain's