Standing in the shadow of Cardiff’s Millenium stadium, and only a stone’s throw from the uber-trendy Mermaid Quay bay area, nestles St Fagans National History Museum—a gem of a museum chronicling the history of Welsh Life.
Within the grounds of the museum lies a complete Welsh village, comprising of original buildings dating back through the centuries—many of them having been transported from all around Wales and painstakingly rebuilt brick-by-brick. The museum features houses, farmland, a school, chapel, post-office; and an on-site bakery from which freshly baked bread, scones, and traditional Welsh bread, Bara Brith, can be purchased daily.
Once through the entrance building, which features a restaurant and a gift shop, there are a number of walks that you can take to see the museum, the castle of St Fagans, and the grounds. In many of the buildings costumed guides and craftspeople willingly answer questions or demonstrate their trade – be it farming, wool-making, pottery, or glass-blowing.
Each of the buildings on-site has its own story to tell, such as the large 17th Century farmhouse near the entrance, which is painted terracotta red to ward off evil spirits. If you have been particularly badly behaved you may be treated to a lesson in the school house by a severe-looking Victorian school ma’am, or you may prefer to find some peace and quiet inside the chapel, or maybe buy some welsh cheese in the traditional village store. One of my favourite parts of the museum is the street of terraced houses, chronologically depicting different stages of Welsh life throughout the ages, and with each house featuring a respective garden.
Once you have visited the main buildings and exhibits you might wish to look around the beautiful grounds of the 16th century castle and gardens. More a manor house than a castle, the building was donated by the Earl of Plymouth.
With some of the Olympic football taking place at the Millennium stadium this summer, Cardiff will see a surge of extra visitors, so if you are in and around Cardiff for any period of time then St Fagans National History Museum is definitely worth a look around. The museum deserves at least an afternoon, but if you wish to see everything at leisure then set aside an entire day.
The museum is free to enter (although there is a small charge for the car-park) and is suitable for the whole family, with wide pathways providing easy access for prams or wheelchairs, and with plenty of activities provided throughout the year.
If you have time to plan your trip then you should check the What’s On section of the website so that you can attend special events, such as the May Day festival, food festivals, or the annual outdoor Shakespeare performance by the Everyman theatre group.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the museum so please leave a comment below. Have you been to the museum? Do you like visiting museums?
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