Monday, September 27, 2010

Cardiff Castle!

Finally, my first trip to a castle in Cardiff, the appropriately named Cardiff Castle.  Ben and I headed into town on a beautiful Sunday morning and took the 10 minute walk to the castle.  There it was, smack dab in the middle of city life, a castle!

You can see the castle walls on the left hand side, just past the Burger King, ha!

Traffic and people bustled all around the outside walls:

Inside the entire castle grounds were set up for the annual Brittish Cheese Festival and as you all know, I love me some cheese!  Only Amanda would have enjoyed it more ;)

Inside there were tents set up for vendors selling all kinds of food, venison burgers (which Ben and I had), lamb burgers, kabobs, steak and kidney pies, cider, beer, wine, you name it!  There was even a tent for the cheese throwing contest:

Ben and I opted to take the extra expense and buy a ticket which also provided a guided tour of the castle interior, so glad we did! 

This provided a tour of the towers, one of which is pictured from the outside, below:

The castle was bought by a wealthy Scotsman, John Crichton-Stuart, in the 1800's, he began remodeling in 1866.  So although the medival architecture remains throughout the exterior, the interior is Victorian Gothic Revival, a romantized view of medival life is exhibited throughout the castle.

The first is a beautiful sitting room, to be used for enteraining the men with cards and cigars.  The fireplace depicts an idealized view of romance in medieval times and states 'Love Conquers All' on the fireplace, the goddess of love sits atop the fireplace:

The ceilings in this room were spectacular with very ornate design:

Another view of the ceilings, just above the stained glass windows:

Next we moved onto the Great Hall in which the dinners were served, this still functions as a dinning hall today and is utilized in almost the exact same manner it was over 150yrs ago. 

Again, another beautiful firelplace, this one depicting the Lord of Glamorgan's arrival to the castle:

The Lord of Glamorgan is most known for imprisoning King Henry I's older brother, Robert the 2nd Duke of Normandy, at the King's request.  Robert was at one point imprisoned within Castle Cardiff in the Norman Keep (which I'll show in just a bit), for 8yrs until his death.

The ceilings in the dinning hall are spectacular as well, with an impressive chandelier:

This is where the minstrels played music during the dinner (up top) and below is where the waitstaff emerged to serve the guests dinner:

Here is the cupboard where the servingware was held, notice the beautiful murial above, those scenes were depicted through the walls of the dinning hall:

Next we moved onto the bedroom/bathroom, again, a beautiful fireplace, this reflected John's Roman Catholic faith and the was meant to resemble an alter:

Mirrored ceilings in this room:

The bathroom was also very impressive with a wood panelled tub and hand painted sinks, very modern for plumbing in those days:

The loo!

View of the grounds from the bedroom:

Next up was a suprise room, a roof top garden, these empty foutains and bins actually held flowers, plants and fruit trees rather than water:

As you can tell, I was very impressed with this roof top!

We then moved onto the Arabic room which was used by the women as a sitting room, again more spectacular ceilings and an impressive fireplace:

Finally we ended up in the library with more beautiful ceilings, a fireplace and my favorite, books!

The obligatory armor in the entrance hall:

and Ben as a Scotsman:

Very impressive, I think!

After we concluded the interior tour we hit the Cheese Fesitval and enjoyed a venison burger (don't be jealous Erin!) out on the lawn, it was such a gorgeous day we even got hot sitting in the sunshine, I think that was my first ever day of being hot in Wales!

They even had a live band there, playing swing music!

After our food and sunshine break, Ben and I decided to explore the Norman Keep where Robert of Normandy was imprisoned and died:

As you can see there were some steep steps we had to climb up and there was a moat surrounding it as well.

Here is the view from halfway up:

View of the castle from the keep:

Here is what the Norman Keep looked like once inside, basically a big open yard:

That's Ben holding our purchased beer and cheese :)

There were bars on the windows:

and here are the VERY steep and narrow stairs which lead up to the tower within the keep:

Here is the view from the room where Robert of Normandy was imprisoned for 8yrs:

We then walked up the long, winding stairs inside the tower to reach the roof top, with spectacular views of the castle grounds and surrounding areas of Cardiff:

The keep from above:

Ben on the tower, you can tell how bright the sun was that day from his nice little squint ;)

So concludes our wonderful Cardiff Castle/Cheese Festival day, we had such a great time and really enjoyed the beautiful day.  This is why Wales is known as the happy country, I suppose!

Well, for most of us anyway: