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Wales Travel Guide

Wales Culture: The Historical Information and Environment Guide

Liam Richards
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Wales Culture. The Historical Information and Environment Guide. Vacation Packages. Wales is a fascinating country that holds tightly to its culture and traditions, and offers the visitor great scenery, dining and entertainment. The first sign that Wales  a small country on the west coast of Great Britain  is different from its neighbors is its flag. A red dragon, proudly strutting over a green and white background, is an apt image for a country where rolling green, sheep-dotted hills cover the landscape and locals hold tightly to ancient culture and traditions. Another sign of the difference between Wales and England is noticeable immediately upon crossing the River Severn that forms part of the border between the two  and it's quite literally a sign. Wales is officially bilingual and all road signs are in both Welsh and English; the Welsh language is still spoken, too, and you'll be greeted with "bore da" as often as "good morning." Wales is often overlooked by travelers, but with a culture, language, and cuisine of its own, it's an exciting destination in its own right or well worth a detour from London. Thanks to the country's small size, it's easy to tour its west and south corners in just a few days. The capital of Wales, Cardiff (Caerdydd in Welsh), is just 2.5 hours from London by train .The city's heart is Cardiff Castle (cardiffcastle.com), built over the centuries and now a mishmash of styles. The walls are remnants from the Roman occupation that ended in the 5th century, the ruined stone keep was built by invading Normans 700 years later, and the main building is a 19th-century Victorian reconstruction of a medieval castle (designed by William Burgess), complete with million-dollar rooms, such as the Arab Room (also known as the Harem Room), which features hand-tiled mosaics and gold-leaf paint. It would cost more than $10 million to create the same room today. In 1947, Cardiff Castle was officially given to the people of Cardiff. Now, all Cardiff citizens have free access; for visitors, the cost to explore the castle's opulent rooms and take in the view from the top of the keep is £12 (about $19). Cardiff's most visited attraction is a more recent addition: the Wales Millennium Centre (wmc.org.uk), which opened in 2009. It contains the largest theater in Europe and has quickly become one of the top performing arts centers in the UK. Its exterior is dominated by a huge copper dome on the front and Welsh slate on the side, making it look both futuristic and industrial. The façade is inscribed with phrases in Welsh (translation: "Creating truth like glass from the furnace of creation") and English ("In these stones, horizons sing") that hint to its mission to bring the best of the world to Wales, and showcase the best of Wales to the world