Visitors watching the film in the new centre. © Cardiff Council
Ghosts from the past come together with state-of-the-art technology at Cardiff Castle's new interpretation centre, which opens to the public on Thursday June 12 2008.
The new £6million centre, set in the sloping earth banks within the castle's Roman walls, explores the story of the castle over the last 2,000 years in a fun multimedia presentation. A film shows a girl meeting characters from the past as she walks around the city, after which the screen is lifted so visitors can take in a stunning view of the castle keep.
The centre also takes visitors through galleries in the castle that have not been opened to the public since they were air raid shelters in World War II.
Using the audio-visual guide. © Cardiff Council
"Cardiff Castle is one of the top visitor attractions in Wales," said Leader of Cardiff Council, Rodney Berman. "This is something we are extremely proud of in Cardiff and the opening of the new Interpretation Centre is going to enhance and improve this wonderful venue even further."
"This new facility is a great opportunity for people to learn about the history of the castle in a fun and exciting way. The facilities on offer are second-to-none and we now have a venue in Cardiff that can compete with anything else in the UK."
New hand-held multimedia guides are also on offer following the completion of the project, which run in 10 different languages. English and Welsh speakers can enjoy a commentary by BBC newsreader Huw Edwards, taking them on a self-guided tour through the Roman, Norman, Medieval and later periods of the castle's history.
A sign language option, an option for the visually impaired and children's interactive version of the tour are also included on the handsets.
Visitors enjoy the new personal guides. © Cardiff Council
Another plus in using the new centre is that you get exclusive access to the castle's North Gate Tower and battlement walls, and full disabled access means that it's the first time disabled visitors can get to many other parts of the site such as the remains of the Roman Fort and Military Museum.
Archaeological finds dating to Roman times found during a dig prior to the centre's construction are on show in the interpretation centre.
The centre is part of an £8million conservation and development programme at Cardiff Castle running since 2001, supported with an Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £6.7m.
Restoration work in progress at Cardiff Castle clocktower in 2006. © Cardiff Council, 2006
"The £6.7million grant is one of the largest awarded in Wales and the Interpretation Centre is a key part of the overall Castle Conservation project which began in 2001," said Dan Clayton Jones, Chairman of HLF's Committee for Wales.
"The interpretation facilities available at Wales' top heritage sites such as the Castle are as important as the physical conservation of our built heritage to ensure we engage and inspire young people about our wonderful heritage in Wales."
"It is extremely rewarding to see the positive impact that Lottery players' money will make here in providing access to the Castle's heritage through a state-of-the-art centre of which we can be proud, to showcase to Cardiff residents and visitors from around the world, now and in the future."
A medieval jousting spectacular will take place over the weekend of June 21-22 2008 to mark the opening of the new interpretation centre.