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Last updated : Nov 2009
South Wales
South Wales - TravelPuppy.com
South Wales incorporates the capital Cardiff, the cities of Newport and Swansea, Carmarthen Bay and two national parks, Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons

Cardiff (Caerdydd)

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.

Swansea (Abertawe)

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.

Elsewhere

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 smallest city.