Rising out of wooded parklands that are popular with walkers and bikers, Castell Coch is a vast, elegant building with conical towers and a working drawbridge. Castell Coch, meaning ‘red castle’ in Welsh due to the fact it’s built from red sandstone, is the quintessential fairytale castle. It was built during the 19th century, at a time when the Victorians were expressing a great interest in the past, especially in the seemingly idyllic, industry-free Middle Ages. Designed by the architect William Burges for the third Marquess of Bute, it was never intended to be a permanent residence, but more for ‘occasional occupation in the summer’. If the romantic exterior of the castle is impressive, then the interior is even more so — a breathtaking jumble of rich colours and minute attention to detail. There are fabulously decorated ceilings in many rooms, while the intricately painted wall panels are truly astounding. The total effect is the kind of exuberant gaudiness that is indisputably Victorian. There are some clever and quirky details evident in the wall decoration of the drawing room, such as painted ribbons that seem to support the family portraits, and the frog holding a bottle of cough mixture that is obviously meant to soothe the frog that has been placed in its own throat. Although Castell Coch has a dungeon, it was never used except by actors — the castle has proved to be a popular ready-made film set. There are also fantastic views of it to be had from the main road heading west out of Cardiff to Pontypridd.
Facilities – at a glance
Suitable for all child ages
- Suitable for children of all ages
- Parking onsite
- Facilities: Designated disabled parking, Portable induction loop
- Opening Times: Open daily Jul-Aug, 9.30-6; Mar & Sep-Oct, 9.30-5; Nov-Dec & 27 Jan-Feb, Mon-Sat 10-4, Sun 11-4 (last admission 30mins before closing). Closed 24-26 Dec & 1-26 Jan
Also in the area
About the area
How many cities have both an outstanding castle and a world-class stadium and events arena right in the thick of things? That’s Cardiff – plus great shopping and an array of cool cafés, restaurants and bars. The urban medley creates a modern, buzzing city with a bit of a reputation for its nightlife – come the weekend, this hub of activity is a haven for fun-lovers from the valleys.
Drinking aside, this is a wonderful modern city, but one that’s never far from its roots, evident from the number of statues. It is filled with elegant buildings – a mix of Victorian and Edwardian – the loveliest being the classic Portland stone buildings of the Law Courts, City Hall and the national museum. They make up the civic centre and what is now the university area. The city is also very green, with the biggest open space being Bute Park, which takes you from the castle to the banks of the River Taff. On the riverside, you can catch a waterbus pass the famous Cardiff Arms Park and the Principality Stadium to Cardiff Bay, where the old dockyards have been transformed into a busy, thriving waterfront.
Places to Stay
Restaurants and Pubs
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