The capital city of Wales, Cardiff is a picturesque blend of the Victorian and the modern with a nod to more ancient pasts. Among the many architectural wonders are Cardiff Castle at the city center, Gothic in style on a site that was once a Roman garrison, and Castell Coch outside of town, a 19th-century structure designed in the style of a medieval castle. Cardiff Bay is touted as the world’s largest port where the evolution of Cardiff from an industrial town to a center of culture and commerce has been realized in contemporary museums, live performance venues, and vibrant nightlife. The colorful rows of shopping venues in the Victorian Arcade offer a visual feast for both the inner architect and the unabashed fashionista.
Beyond Cardiff, the traces of the mining industry sparked by the Industrial Revolution are all but gone, and the steep valleys of former coal mines are returning to a verdant green. The inspiring landscape of the Wye River Valley is punctuated by the ruins of ancient castles and cathedrals, many of which are significant sites in the legend of King Arthur. Pembrokeshire National Park is a coastal wonderland of cliffs and sand, a haven for marine birds and orinthologists alike and more natural beauty is found at the Gower Peninsula near Swansea, populated by wild Gower ponies that roam the coast and wetlands.