This county town on the River Towy with a population of nearly 14,000 claims to be the oldest town in Wales; a Roman fort is believed to date from the first century and nearby is one of two remaining Roman amphitheatres in Wales. The site of Carmarthen castle is known to have been used since 1105; destroyed in 1215 by Llywelyn the Great it was rebuilt in 1223 and Carmarthen was among the first medieval walled towns in Wales. Carmarthenshire County Museum is just out of the town at Abergwili housed in an old house which has been in continuous use since about 1290, surrounded by lawns, gardens and trees and bordered by a lake; founded as a college it became the Bishop's Palace for the diocese of St David's .
The Palace is a fitting setting for a variety of collections; the elegant C17th and C18th galleries have furniture and portraits, the C20th shows a kitchen and living room of the 1940's and another gallery houses Penrhiwbeili Farmhouse with its unique collection of furniture and ceramics from the family, where the two ground floor rooms are easily fitted into the bishop's bedroom. There is a C19th schoolroom and a clogmaker's workshop, a large collection of apothecary jars from an old chemist's shop in Carmarthen, gold articles from the Roman gold mines at Dolaucothi and a large and very important collection of standing stones dating back to pre-historic times.
In the area are some major attractions including the National Botanic Garden of Wales to the east of the town. Opened in May 2000 it is now the most visited garden in Wales having been voted the number 1 'Wonder of Wales'. The Garden has an amazing collection of over 8000 different plant varieties, spread across 560 acres of beautiful countryside and a stunning range of themed gardens have been developed to appeal to a wide range of visitors, from those who just love the sight and smells of flowers to those who want to know about medicinal plants or the latest DNA research into plant evolution.
There are always plenty of activities for families in the school and bank holidays, and the Garden has a year round diverse programme of events and the world's largest single spanned glasshouse that has the best display of Mediterranean climate zone plants in the Northern hemisphere. The last remaining section of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line closed in 1973.
Today the Gwili Railway runs from Bronwydd Arms Station (about 4 miles north of Carmarthen) to a halt at Danycoed, a living reminder of a Great Western Railway branch line set in the Carmarthenshire hills. 2015 will see the Railway extended for another two miles to a new station on the northern outskirts of Carmarthen at Abergwili Junction. Some 5 miles north of Carmarthen at Pont ar Sais is the Gwili Pottery, which has been creating domestic pottery for over 30 years and has a wide variety of different shapes in many designs. From vases and plates to jugs and lamp bases, each piece has the unique feel of an artwork because everything is hand-made.
Visitors are welcome to visit to see the pots being made and view the gallery, where the whole range of ceramics is on display.