Cardiff audio tour: Cardiff's Civic Centre

About the Tour

This tour is your chance to explore what is widely regarded as one of the finest collections of public buildings in the whole of Britain, strikingly presented with domes, towers, columns, and statues, and elegantly laid out amidst peaceful ornamental gardens and tree lined avenues.

This tour is an escape from the hustle and bustle of Cardiff City Centre to the peace and tranquility of this parkland oasis, and a journey back in time to hear and see the story of a momentous period in Cardiff’s history. The parkland, its statues, and its buildings send powerful messages of a new city eager to stamp its place in the world, while rediscovering Welsh national identity and pride for the first time in generations.

Tour Producer

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James Cowan

I grew up with Cardiff on my doorstep. I have never forgotten the thrill of visiting the city as a small child - the sight of its sometimes majestic, sometimes downtrodden, and sometimes quirky buildings, the sound of its bustling shopping streets and buses, and the smell of hops near Cardiff Central Station! After years of fleeting encounters with this city, as I flirted with cities and countries around the world, Cardiff became my permanent home in 1997 and, since then, discovering its incredible but as yet largely unknown history became an ever growing and consuming passion!
They add up to a story waiting to be told! The story of a settlement which has been here for 2000 years, and has witnessed cycles of triumph and disaster, rise, fall and rise again. Signs of Cardiff’s changing shape and fortunes over the centuries remain all around the city centre.
I developed a number of guided history tours and ghost tours around Cardiff under the auspices of my own company, Cardiff History and Hauntings. Thanks to VoiceMap I am able to offer highlights of the stories told on these tours to anyone at anytime. I have also written and presented a number of local television programmes on Cardiff’s History.
If you already live in Cardiff, I hope I can help you see this city in a new and different light. If you are visiting Cardiff, then I hope you will be left fascinated, intrigued, and eager to return!

Major Landmarks

  • Cardiff City Hall

  • National Museum Cardiff

  • Welsh National War Memorial

  • Welsh National Temple of Peace and Health

Directions to Starting Point

The tour takes place just on the edge of Cardiff City Centre and begins at the corner of King Edward VII Avenue and Gorsedd Gardens Road. The postcode for this location is CF10 3ND. You need to be standing at the top of the steps emerging from the subway which goes under the dual carriageway Boulevard de Nantes (the A4161).

The start point for the tour is a few minutes walk from Cardiff Castle, which itself is right in the centre of Cardiff. You can use this location as a means to get to the tour route in a few minutes. If you are facing the main entrance gate of Cardiff Castle, turn right and walk to the front corner of the castle. At that corner you will see a pedestrian crossing leading to the end of the long pedestrianised shopping street called Queen Street. Cross here but immediately turn left and walk so that the side of Cardiff Castle is on your left and on the other side of the road. This is Kingsway. Walk up Kingsway for approximately 100 metres until you pass the Hilton Hotel on your right. Once past the Hilton Hotel you will see in front of you a pedestrian crossing over Greyfriars Road, and in the distance ahead of you the tall clock tower of City Hall where the tour will start. Cross here and continue ahead until you reach the subway. Go through the subway and up the steps the other side so that you are standing right in front of City Hall with its tall clock tower. You are now ready to start the tour.

If you are coming by car there is roadside pay and display car parking along the roads and avenues of Cathays Park, as well as nearby on North Road (the A470).

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Tips

Places to stop along the way

The foyer of the National Museum has a shop, cafe and toilets.

Best time of day

I usually find that mornings are a very pleasant quiet time to do the tour, especially at weekends or in hot weather. However, the place tends to be quiet throughout the day. The route is also pleasant and peaceful to do in the evening while it is still daylight.

Precautions

The roads on the route tend to be quiet but please take care for traffic when crossing roads. Cathays Park is generally a safe location but normal precautions are recommended, such as not to leave valuables unattended. It is not recommended that you do the tour at night, not just for personal safety reasons, but because you cannot appreciate all of the buildings and features as they are not all floodlit.

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