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The Welsh capital was a small town until the early 19th century when it started to gain prominence and was granted city status in 1905. Since the 1980s, Cardiff has seen significant development; from a new waterfront area at Cardiff Bay, to an international sports village. Sport features heavily across the city, with sporting venues in various locations including Principality Stadium (home of Welsh rugby), Sophia Gardens (home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club), and Cardiff City Stadium (home of Cardiff City Football Club). The city hosted the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, and was awarded the title of European City of Sport in 2009 and 2014 for its role in hosting major international sporting events.
Cardiff has many landmark buildings, such as the Welsh National Museum and the Senedd, but Cardiff Castle is perhaps the most striking of them all. Located in the city centre, it was built in the late 11th century by Normal invaders on top of a Roman fort. In addition to Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch (Red Castle) is located north of the city, among others scattered around the outskirts. In fact, Cardiff claims to have the largest concentration of castles of any city in the world.
Cardiff is also a base for Welsh media, and a wealth of contemporary television programmes have been filmed here, such as Casualty, Doctor Who, Torchwood and Sherlock. It is therefore not surprising that a number of Welsh TV personalities originate from Cardiff. BBC Wales, S4C and ITV Wales all have studios in the city, plus there’s a large independent TV production industry comprising over 600 companies and employing around 6,000 people.
Media aside, industry has played a huge role in Cardiff’s development for many centuries, and its port area was once the world’s most important coal port. These days, Cardiff is more commonly associated with finance and business services, and when combined with administration, education and health sectors, this has accounted for around 75 per cent of the city’s economic growth since 1991. Notable companies include Legal & General, Admiral Insurance, Zurich, ING Direct, 118118, The AA, British Gas and BT. What’s more, Cardiff has a huge appeal for tourists, and one in five employees is said to work in either the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector, highlighting the growing retail and tourism industries in the city.
There’s a large number of hotels of varying sizes and standards in Cardiff, but when it comes to house prices, the average property price is £238,980, which is a fall on the prices of the last few years. In terms of the city’s transport system, there’s Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street railway stations, Cardiff Airport and the M4 motorway, connecting Cardiff with Swansea to the west and Newport and London to the east. Walking, cycling and running are popular pursuits for locals, and the Taff Trail runs 55 miles across the city, making use of the now disused railway tracks of the Glamorganshire valleys.
For students, there are four higher education institutions to choose from – Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of South Wales and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama – and the total number of undergraduates and postgraduates in the city is around 43,900. There are 98 state primary schools and state 19 secondary schools in Cardiff, along with a number of independent schools, and what’s really interesting is that many of these educational institutions continue to teach the Welsh language in a bid to try to preserve it for future generations.