An Informal Walk Through Cardiff

A good place to begin a stroll through the heart of town is at The Hayes Island, across from St. David's Hall. The Hayes isn't really an island; until the 18th century it was the vegetable garden of the townspeople of Cardiff, and in the city's boom days of the 19th century it became a fashionable shopping area. Head north on Trinity Street, passing the 1882 Central Library on your right and the 1891 Central Market on your left. St. John's Church, the oldest house of worship in Cardiff -- with origins in the 12th century, is on the right at the approach to Church Street.

Turn left onto Church Street and observe the Old Arcade adjacent to the Old Arcade Public House; it's the oldest of the city's arcades, dating from 1835. At the end of Church Street, turn right onto High Street, the main street of medieval-era Cardiff. Follow this High Street to the main entrance to Cardiff Castle, which you can visit now or save it for a later time. Turn left and walk along Castle Street, passing the landmark Angel Hotel. Continue along to Womanby Street, a Viking name that survived the Norman invasion and all subsequent government changes.

Head right at Quay Street, whose name harkens back to when the River Taff ran at its lower end. If you turn left at Westgate Street, you'll see the Cardiff Arms Park and the National Rugby Football Ground. Turn back up Quay Street to High Street. At High, turn right and walk along St. Mary Street, passing market buildings from 1885. At Guildhall Place, turn right. Notice the plaque on the southern wall of Hodge House telling the story of the Old Town Hall, which stood here until 1913.

Return to St. Mary Street, passing on your right the Royal Hotel with its memories of Captain Scott and his South Pole explorers. At the junction with Wood Street, you'll see the Gothic fa├žade of the Prince of Wales Theatre, which opened in 1878. Head across Penarth Road and walk along Custom House Street to the 1845 Custom House.

Return again to St. Mary Street and the Great Western Hotel, built in 1876 in French Gothic style. Cross St. Mary Street and pause outside the Terminus Public House. If you look up from this street, you will see an almost complete Victorian townscape.

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