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Cardiff Bay, known as Tiger Bay, was the hub of the Cardiff docks activity and the export of coal during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Subsequently, in the 1970s, the docks activity declined and the bay became derelict. Today, following an intensive regeneration, it's now a bustling and diverse waterfront built around a 200 freshwater lake.
The bay offers an abundance of visitors attractions for one to visit including shops, entertainment venues, restaurants, bars and accommodation. During my visit to the bay I enjoyed visiting the Wales Millennium Centre, Pierhead, Norwegian Church Arts Centre and Lightship 2000. Please see my individual tips by clicking onto the links. It's worth spending some time at the bay to soak in the atmosphere.
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
There is a very red lightship that stands next to the Cardiff bay visitors centre (see other tip). It was built in the 1950's and saw about 40 years service before being brought here and resored. It's main purpose is to serve as a chaplinacy centre for the varoius churches in the area. "That would be an ecumenical matter" as father Jack would say and I'm sure they do a great job.
From a tourist point of view, it provides free entry for a look around a lightship - which kids absolutley love. you can also visit the actual 'light' if a staff member is about. As you would normally pay a fiver or so for an attraction such as this it would be rude nit to buy a tea and bun in the cafe on board - this is a charity venture after all.
P.s why is a 'lightship' so relevant to christian work - i get the light thing and the boat thing in terms of christian imagery, but surely Christian Chaplinacy is about 'picking up the pieces' after the event : would a lifeboat not be more appropraite. Anyway, what would I know ?
The pierhead building
The pierhead was built at the end of the 19th century. It was the offices of the harbour company for many years, even when it was renamed as the Cardiff railway company.
It only recently re-opened in 2010 following restoration and is now a small free museum extolling a few prominent welsh figures over the years. There is also an exhibition about the development of the port area and some interesting pieces such as Scott's of the Antartic's binnacle. I'm not surprised they all perished if he couldn't even remember he had left his binnacle in a office in Cardiff.
The real star of the (free) show is however the building itself. The high victorian masterpiece is covered in terracotta mouldings on the outside and stunning glazed tiles on the inside. this was a headquarters building that clearly wanted to show off and impress the visitor. I suspect they thought they could see no end to their fortunes - how wrong they were.
Architecture of the bay
The cardiff Bay development is a concerted effort to 'do a Barcelona' with the derelict remains of the docks where South Wales used to export to the world. AS the Weksh only now export slightly podgy actors, windbag politicians and leeks the docks are little use.
The development has seen the buliding of many apartments, shops leisure centres and the like but also a couple of landmark buildings.
I shudder to think how much it cost, but the welsh Millenium building is certainly an impressive piece. It was orginially envisaged as an opera house, the final result has a more 'welsh' feel to it. The centre houses all sorts of artistic ventures. Some at west-end prices and others free. When I visited recently they were flogging tickets for 'Spamalot' with its full west-end cast whilst a tea dance was going on in the foyer.
The building itself is finished in welsh slate. This was, architecturally, to me it's best feature. It is made up of a number of layers of different types of slate. With the use of some unseen windows it gives the appearance of 'strata' of rocks seen on a coastline.
Next door is the building of the welsh assembly (a sort of mickey mouse parliment for the windbags they don't send to Westminster). It has all the charm of a very large provincial bus station.
DR Who Exhibition
Really enjoyed the Dr Who exhibition, it had lots of cool Dr Who parfonalia so if you like Dr Who it's worth a trip. Other than that the is the amazing buildings and shops to visit down in the bay too. It was a bit pricey though at £5 each.
- Arts and Culture
SPEND A DAY AT THE BAY
A mayor part of the re-vamp can be found at the Cardiff bay area.
You'll find a diverse mix of highly acclaimed visitor attractions, activities and entertainment, blended with vibrant, cosmopolitan bars, shops and restaurants, there’s something for everyone and all situated around the magnificent freshwater lake, giving Cardiff's waterfront a truly unique atmosphere worthy of any capital city.
I recommend you spend around half a day here to experience its fullest.
Take a stroll along the water front and see the assembly at the pier head. It’s a free interactive exhibition with information on who's who, what's happening and how the National Assembly for Wales works
Following along from there is the Light ship 2000; this is a cross between ship and a light house and is certainly worth a quick viewing.
If you’re travelling with young inquisitive minds, then Techniquest is place to go.
Also located in Cardiff bay its ideal for any child interested in science with its 150 plus exhibits that are in the main hands on.
Open every day, except for a short Christmas break.
Mon - Fri: 9.30 - 4.30
Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays: 10.30 - 5.00
Local school holiday weekdays: 9.30 - 5.00
Last admission: 45 minutes before closing
Allow at least a couple of hours for your visit.
For more info please visit there web site
This building is truly superb in architectural design and houses the theatre for all sorts of shows and concerts; it seems to follow in the foot steps of Singapore’s and Sydney’s opera houses.
When you see Wales Millennium Centre you will be astounded by its beauty and with the scripture above the entrance you are left with no doubt your in Wales and building is truly Welsh. The brief to the architects, Percy Thomas, was that it had to be “unmistakably Welsh and internationally outstanding”.
You can take a tour of the interior which is lasts around an hour. The cost is £5.00 per adult and consessions are £4.00.
Head down to cardiff Bay if you've an hour or two, or even half a day.
It has been facisnating to see the transformation of the area over the last few years. Each time we go down there is more stuff opened up and its becoming quite a vibrant area to hang out, eat, visit.
As well as plent of places to visit - Techniquest, Visitor Centre, Norwegion Church etc, there are also plenty of places to eat.
They have built a couple of new piers which house specialist ice cream parlour and restaurant.
[For more photos see my Cardiff Bay Travelogue].
Cardiff Bay statue.
A wonderful bronze of an immigrant couple symbolising the arrival of many to Tiger Bay- hoping to build a better future on UK shores.
- Hiking and Walking
- Castles and Palaces
- Budget Travel
See a show
The Wales Millenium centre hosts many shows like Opera.Ballet, even comedy so if on holiday why not see a show here in Cardiff
In the Bay area theres an exhibition dedicated to Dr.Who,and his associates...The Daleks,Cybermen and of course his old companion Rose Tyler.
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