My second visit to Cardiff was a lot more memorable than my first, I'd seen the new bay area of Cardiff on the TV a lot, and some of the buildings looked fabulous, so I found a cheap train ticket, and a nice hotel in the centre and I headed off early one Saturday morning.
First stop was Cardiff Castle which was a real surprise, the interior of the castle was completely remodelled in the late 1800's by William Burges for the owner the Marquis of Bute (the richest man in the world at the time). Each room has it's own theme, the highlights being the 'medieval' banqueting hall, the Arab room which has more than a nod to the Alhambra in Spain, and the roof top garden, with heavy Moorish influences. A real eye opener of what a 'modern' castle can be.
There is the new Cardiff Bay, with two stand out buildings. The Welsh Assembly building and the Millennium Centre. I first saw both of these buildings as the sun was setting, and lit up at night they look fantastic.
The Welsh Assembly building looks like something that a James Bond super villain would build, there is a huge "funnel" from the roof of the building through three floors finishing in the debating chamber. The funnel is covered in strips of what looked to me of Maple. Sunlight is bounced down this funnel to feed the chamber with natural light. A building that the Welsh nation should be very proud of.
The Millennium Centre is right next door and just as good, from the outside it's supposed to represent the side of a ocean going ship, and into this is carved a poem. "Creating Truth Like Glass From The Furnace of Inspiration", and this is back lit at night. The ship theme is carried on inside, and you could almost believe you were on a cruise liner as you climb the stairs.
The final memorable building I saw in Cardiff was the Millennium Stadium, I'm not a huge sports fan, but I took a guided tour around the stadium, and got to see the Visitors changing room, walked down the tunnel to the playing field, then up to one of the corporate hospitality boxes, and even into the presidents box. It's must be an amazing experience to be there with 74,000 other people!