Focus on Cardiff

| 29 June 2000

Museum of Welsh Life, just by junction 33 of the M4, was opened on July 1948 and has become Wales's most popular heritage attraction. Built in the grounds of St Fagan's Castle, a 16th century manor house, it tells the story of Welsh life and work over the last 500 years through transplanted buildings. Within the 500 acres is a school, a chapel, a Working Men's Institute and workshops with demonstrations of traditional crafts.

Open daily 10 to 6; more information on 029 20573 500, or click here.

The Centre for Visual Arts, The Hayes, created out of the former Cardiff City Library and opened last year, is the largest gallery in Wales showing the very best of new and historical art from Wales and around the world. Exhibitions change regularly with big international shows by living and 20th century artists.

Main summer exhibition, opening July 8, is Future Perfect in which ten artists look at how the architectural future has been imagined in the past. Also has Fantasmic, hands-on interactive galleries exploring the fun and fascinating world of art and seeing.

Opening Times 11 to 5, closed Mondays; information on 029 20288 922, or .

Techniquest, Stuart Street in Cardiff Bay, is the Welsh hands-on science centre. It has 150 interactive exhibits plus a science theatre, planetarium, discovery room and cafe.

Open 9.30 to 4.30 weekdays, 12.30 to 5 weekends; information on 029 20475 475, or click here.

National Museum & Gallery in Cathays Park in the Cardiff's Civic Centre is a general museum in the Victorian tradition, with vast range of history, art and science in its galleries. With extensions and refurbishment's in recent years it has also become one of the most up-to-date of museums, and its new hands-on Glanely Gallery helps examine objects normally kept in store. It explores the political and natural histories of Wales, and has one of the best art collections in Europe.

Events and temporary exhibitions include Storytelling (Tuesdays and Fridays to September 20), Painting the Dragon, Welsh art (to July 5), Horrible Histories, exhibition based on Terry Deary's books (to August 20).

One of the most fascinating recent displays is the Tregwynt Hoard, perhaps the finest coin find in Wales. In 1996 during building work at Tregwynt Mansion near Fishguard archaeologists began to unearth coins from the 16th and 17th centuries. In the end they found 33 gold and 467 silver coins, fragments of pottery, a sheet of lead and a gold ring, apparently hidden under a wall by Royalist sympathisers in the Civil War, in about 1648.

The museum is open 10 to 5 each day except Mondays, for information ring 01222 397951, or click here.

Oriel Makers Gallery in Penylan Road, Roath Park, is a showcase for artists and craftsmen working in the area, with themed exhibitions. Helen Lush's Artist on a Bicycle, watercolours of Sardinia and Corsica, is on until July 16, followed by Bodyform in which artists working in different media portray the human body, from July 22 to August 19.

Open 10 to 5.30 Tuesday to Saturday, information on 029 20472 595, or click here.

Cardiff Castle in Castle Street dates back 2000 years, from the arrival of the Romans in the 1st century AD through the Norman Conquest and medieval occupations to the Bute family in the 18th century. But the best loved features of the site are the spectacular Victorian interiors, created for the 3rd Marquess of Bute by his eccentric architect, William Burges. Together they created a series of neo-gothic and fairytale towers, influenced by the medieval castles of France, Germany and other European countries, which contain some of the most spectacular and elaborate rooms in Britain.

Each chamber has a different theme, including Mediterranean gardens and Italian and Arabian decoration. A tour lasts just under an hour, revealing the secrets of the apartments - look out for the Invisible Prince and the bell push held in the teeth of a monkey, but beware of the demonic face which guards the entrance to the Winter Smoking Room. The most striking feature of the Castle Green, however, is the 12th century Norman Keep.

You can also explore the Queen's Dragoon Guards and the Royal Welch Regiment museums, both housed within the Castle walls.

Open daily from 9.30 to 6, information on 029 20878 100, or click here.

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