Wales – The Valleys

top 10 places

Top 100 places to visit in Wales

The Valleys

1. Rhondda Heritage Park

Rhondda Heritage Park was formed by locals when the Lewis Merthyr Colliery in Trehafod closed in 1983, and is now one of South Wales’ top attractions. You can explore the engine-winding houses, lamp room and fan house, and take a simulated ‘trip underground’ with stunning visuals and sound effects re-creating 1950’s and late nineteenth century life through the eyes of colliers. A Visitor Centre houses an art gallery, restaurant, gift shop and a period re-constructed village street.

2. Big Pit National Mining Museum

Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain’s leading mining museums and makes for an exciting and informative day out. Take a multi-media tour of a modern coal mine with a virtual miner, explore colliery buildings and see exhibitions in the Pithead Baths. Travel 300 feet underground with a real miner and see what life was like for the thousands of men who worked at the coal face. The Pithead Baths Canteen serves meals and snacks and a gift shop sells souvenirs and books.

3. Llancaiach Fawr

Built in the early 16th century, Llancaiach Fawr Manor is one of the finest examples of a semi-fortified manor house in Wales. Its original design incorporated four-foot thick walls, a single entrance to the Manor and a system of defendable staircases and stout wooden doors. On your visit you’ll experience the sights, sounds and smells of 1645. Costumed guides re-enact the roles of previous inhabitants including servants, the master of the house, Edward Prichard and his wife, Mary.

4. Welsh International Climbing Centre

The Welsh International Climbing Centre has one of the biggest and best indoor climbing walls in Europe. They also offer adventure activities including caving, gorge scrambling, kayaking and mountaineering. Taster sessions are available to learn the challenges of indoor climbing and practice outdoor skills on the indoor wall – suitable for 6 year olds and above. For a more exhilarating experience try the ‘High Ropes Course,’ 50 feet off the ground with cargo net, rope bridge and zip wire.

5. National Roman Legion Museum

The Romans founded their fortress at Caerleon in 75AD. One of just three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain, it guarded the region for over 200 years. Visitors to the museum, set within the walls of the old fortress, will learn just what it was that made the Romans such a formidable fighting force. There is a large collection of objects showing how the soldiers lived, fought, worshipped and died, and at weekends and holidays children can step into the barrack room and try on replica armour.

6. Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Gallery

Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil is situated in 160 acres of parkland with formal gardens, a lake, children’s play area and a model railway. The castle was built in 1824 during the industrial revolution, and has now opened its doors to the public, hosting a spectacular museum and art gallery. Visitors can witness a range of art displays and eclectic collections from the ancient world, including Egyptian grave goods, Greek and Roman artefacts, and Far Eastern decorative arts.

7. Blaenavon Ironworks

South Wales’s industrial history is recalled at Blaenavon, one of Europe’s best-preserved 18th century ironworks. Built in the 1780s, it was at the cutting edge of new technology. A steam engine allowed the construction of the first purpose built multi-furnace works in Wales, a milestone in the Industrial Revolution. Visitors to the site can still trace the entire process of production, from the charging at “furnace top” with coal, iron ore and limestone to the casting of the molten metal in the yard below.

8. Cynon Valley Museum, Gallery and Café

Cynon Valley Museum features exhibitions on the social and industrial history of the Cynon Valley, focusing mainly on the last 200 years, from the birth of the Hirwaun iron industry to the closure of the coal industry. The Space, contemporary Art Gallery shows a range of work by local artists, and the Footprints Cafe’ serves freshly prepared light meals, fairtrade coffees and teas. A gift shop sells contemporary jewellery, glass and ceramics, a range of art books and limited edition prints.

9. Caerphilly Castle

Proudly standing on a 30-acre site, Caerphilly Castle is one of the largest fortresses in Europe. Complete with moat and bridge, and boasting a tower which ‘out leans’ that of Pisa, the castle also receives visits from the infamous Ghost of the Green Lady. Located close to the site of a former Roman fort, the building of Wales’ largest castle began in 1268, under orders from the Anglo-Norman Lord Gilbert de Clare, later suffering from numerous Welsh attacks!

10. Chapel Row – Joseph Parry’s Birthplace Museum

Built in the 1820’s for the workers of the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, Number 4 Chapel Row was the birthplace of Wales best known composer, Joseph Parry, born in 1841.  His much loved ‘Myfanwy’ is still a favourite of Welsh Male Voice Choirs to this day. The interior of the cottage is set in the 1840’s and shows the living conditions of the ironworkers at the time when Parry was a young boy, as well as displays on Parry’s life and music.

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