Cardiff is a fantastic place to stay, and booking a hotel in the centre puts visitors right at the heart of its vibrant lifestyle and many attractions, both old and new. But it is also the ideal spot from which to explore the whole of south Wales and its many enchanting sights and historical sites.
Chepstow Castle is one of the most visited ancient monuments in the whole of Wales. The oldest remaining post-Roman castle in Wales was built in 1067, overlooking the magnificent River Wye. William the Conqueror decided to build the castle here, just a year after his victory at the Battle of Hastings. The castle continued to be expanded until the 17th Century and can boast the oldest wooden doors in Europe, which are 800 years old. These doors hung for hundreds of years in the entrance until they were moved elsewhere on the site for safekeeping in 1962.
The castle has been open to the public since 1984 and is run by Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Government. Although it is mostly ruined, the castle is very popular with visitors. A walk around the ruins and the grounds makes visitors feel that they have truly stepped back in history and it is easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of the castle when it was full of fighting men, firing arrows from the ramparts against would-be invaders. The views from the castle are breathtaking, too. The Wye crashes past on one side, while the town of Chepstow can be seen down below the other side. The castle also hosts special events throughout the year, such as falconry displays and performances of Shakespeare’s plays in the open air.
The small port of Chepstow is well worth a visit, too. The walled border town on the banks of the Wye is steeped in history, and can trace continuous human occupation back to 5,000 BC. It was an important Roman settlement and the town has a fascinating museum documenting Roman times and the rest of its history.
Not far away is the magnificent Tintern Abbey. This Cistercian abbey was founded in 1131 and quickly became prosperous, staying that way until it was dissolved in 1536. The original building was added to over this 400-year period, with its great church at the centre. Today, all that remains of Tintern Abbey is a shell. Where once there would have been solid stone floors, now it has become overgrown with grass, although this is well tended by the abbey’s management. It is an unforgettable experience to walk around the silent ruins and imagine how our ancestors lived almost 1,000 years ago.
With sites such as Chepstow castle, the Vale of Glamorgan and the Usk Valley just a short trip away, a stay in a hotel in Cardiff offers visitors the best of both worlds, city and rural, ancient and modern. There are ruins, monuments, museums and a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy in this beautiful area.