Cardiff is a city I visited a lot as a child and one of my favourite areas is now the bay, which has been undergone a huge redevelopment over the last ten years.
We visited Cardiff for the weekend for a family party and took the chance to nip down to the former docklands, which is just a mile from the city centre.
The area now has a large freshwater lake for sailing and water sports and is also home to the beautiful Wales Millennium Centre, which is an arts venue. This is one of my favourite buildings and what I think makes it so special is that it was designed to represent the country. According to the centre’s website, the brief to the architects was that it had to be “unmistakably Welsh and internationally outstanding.” It was therefore built with seven different Welsh woods, slate from North Wales, steel from Pontypool and glass from Swansea.
I also love the bilingual inscription on the front of the building, which says “In These Stones Horizons Sing” in English and “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration” in Welsh.
Just down from this is the Senedd, home to the National Assembly for Wales, which is responsible for making the laws for the country. You can take a tour the senate building and it’s actually really interesting to learn how this democratically elected body works.
The nearby Pierhead building, which was once offices for the Cardiff Railway Company, is also now part of the National Assembly for Wales and includes a visitor centre.
There are lots of shops and restaurants at the nearby Mermaid Quay, but I prefer to walk in the opposite direction to the lightship – a former floating lighthouse built in 1953. It has now been restored and is used as a Christian Centre. It’s possible to do tours of the ship and there’s also a cafe on board.
I also love this statue of a collier leaning on a coal truck which is next to the ship.
Cardiff was once one of the world’s busiest ports, thanks to its coal exports, and this statue was unveiled in 2005 to represent the link between Cardiff and the 250,000 people who at one time worked in the mining industry in the valleys. Some of my own family members were included in that number and I think it’s such a special way to remember them.