With so much history it's not surprising to find a plethora of
museums throughout the region. From the traditional to the
unique almost every aspect of Welsh history is covered. And
the best bit… most of them are free to get in.
National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff
Located in the pretty Cathays Park district of Cardiff
city centre is Wales' National Museum. Officially opened in
1927 the museum features permanent exhibitions on archaeology,
geology and natural history as well as an ever revolving programme
of touring and temporary exhibitions.
The museum is also home to the National Museum of Art which
features one of the best collections of Impressionist works in
Europe. In addition there is over 500 years worth of
magnificent paintings, drawings and sculptures.
The museum also hosts the highly acclaimed Artes Mundi
competition. Held every two years the competition attracts
artists from all over the world and this year's exhibition opens on
National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon
Just outside the city of Newport is the small
town of Caerleon. It maybe a small town today but 2000 years
ago it was the furthest outposts of the mighty Roman Empire.
Caerleon was one of only three permanent Roman fortresses in
Britain and now visitors can visit the town's fascinating National
Roman Legion Museum to see how the soldiers lived and fought.
Elsewhere in the town visitors can see the remains of the soldiers'
barracks, baths and amphitheatre.
Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon
More recently but just as important to Welsh history was
the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century when Wales
was one of the most important countries in the world thanks to its
coal mining and iron making industries. Plenty of monuments
mark this era including Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil and the
superb Big Pit National Coal Museum at Blaenavon (part of the
Blaenavon World Heritage
Site). Descending 300 feet down the mine shaft
you can take a tour of a coal mine where you will be guided by an
ex-miner who will tell you first hand tales of what life was like
for him and his colleagues as they worked
Fagans National History Musuem, Cardiff
Situated in the picturesque village of St Fagans on
the outskirts of Cardiff is Wales' most popular tourist attraction.
The National History Museum is situated in the grounds of St Fagans
Castle, an impressive 16th century manor house. The
museum is in the open air and the exhibits consist of historical
buildings from around Wales. Moved from their original location and
painstakingly re-built brick by brick on site by skilled craftsmen,
the buildings tell the history of Wales, its people and its
culture. Farmhouses, a school, a row of ironworkers cottages and
even a church are among the exhibits. You can also visit the
workshops of traditional craftsmen including a cooper, blacksmith
and clog maker.
Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery,
Perched on a hillside
above the town of Merthyr Tydfil sits the impressive Cyfathfa
Castle. Once the home of local iron master William Crashay
the building is now a superb museum housing a range of paintings
and artefacts from all over the world as well as a fascinating
exhibition on the industrial history of the town.
The Winding House, New Tredegar
The Winding House museum
is housed at the former Elliot Colliery in New Tredegar.
Telling the history of Caerphilly and the surrounding area the
museum also has a series of different exhibitions celebrating local
life and historic events. The museum also houses the original
winding engine that lowered the colliery's miners
underground. Look out for special events when the engine
The Cardiff Story, Cardiff
As the name suggests, this new museum in the
heart of the city tells the story of Cardiff and how it grew from a
small coal exporting port into the modern thriving city that it is
There are plenty of other museums and exhibitions throughout
Southern Wales, each with their own story to tell. There
include Shire Hall and the Nelson Museum in Monmouth, Bedwellty House in Tredegar,
Abergavenny Museum, Newport Museum and Pontypool Museum.