The capital and the largest city of Wales with a population 325,000, Cardiff is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales; it is a significant tourism centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales. Cardiff Castle in the centre of the city is a medieval castle and Victorian architecture Gothic revival mansion, transformed from a Norman keep erected over a Roman fort.
Its transformation began in 1868 with a massive rebuilding which turned the castle into a C19th fantasy of a medieval palace, with a series of rooms that can be considered to constitute the highest achievement of later Victorian Gothic Revival design. National Museum of Wales, officially opened in 1927, houses Wales's national archaeology, art, geology and natural history collections as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions.
The art collection at the Museum is one of Europe's finest with five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe's best collections of Impressionist works. The Millennium Stadium has a capacity of 74,500 and had the first fully-retractable roof in the U.K. A multi-purpose, multi-faceted event venue, the Stadium has a UEFA 5-star rating and has hosted matches from two Rugby World Cups, staged six FA Cup Finals and seen major motorsport events and a plethora of concerts. Llandaff Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Llandaff, head of the Church in Wales.
The current building was constructed in the C12th over the site of an earlier church. It is one of two cathedrals in Cardiff, the other being the Catholic Cardiff Cathedral in the city centre. St Fagans National History Museum is located 4 miles west of the city centre and is one of Europe's leading open–air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction. It stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle, a late C16th manor house.
During the last fifty years, over forty original buildings from different historical periods have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland, among them houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a Workmen's Institute. St Fagans explores all aspects of how people in Wales have lived, worked and spent their leisure time. Also west of the city centre at Canton is Chapter, a multi-artform cultural setting that presents and produces international art, performance and film alongside a dynamic social space. With over 800,000 visitors every year, it has two film theatres, two theatres and many spaces for ongoing art production and resident artists together with two bars, a cafe and a shop.
At its peak, Cardiff's port area became the busiest port in the world; in the years leading up to WWI, more than 10 million tonnes of coal were exported annually from Cardiff Docks. Cardiff Bay was created by the Cardiff Barrage to form a 500-acre freshwater lake round the former dockland area south of the city centre. The Senedd in Cardiff Bay houses the debating chamber and three committee rooms for the National Assembly for Wales. The building, which faces south-west over the Bay, was opened by the Queen on 1 March 2006; it has a glass facade around the entire building and is dominated by a steel roof and wood ceiling.
The nearby Pierhead Building was opened in 1897 and was originally the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company. In 2010, the building was reopened to the public as a Welsh history museum and contains a number of films and exhibits.
The Wales Millennium Centre was opened by the Queen in 2004 and is one of the most unique and lively performing arts centres in Europe. What one sees in and around the Centre has been inspired by Wales, its landscape, its traditions and its people. Visitors come to enjoy West End musicals, opera, ballet and contemporary dance, stand-up comedy and art exhibitions.
Techniquest in Cardiff Bay has a mission to engage people with science and to motivate them to learn more; science-related areas such as maths, engineering and technology are also addressed. A top visitor attraction, it provides a highly enjoyable experience for all ages with an exhibition, science theatre and a planetarium.