For a country represented by a red dragon, Wales is decidedly green. With rolling hills dotted with lochs stretching hundreds of acres, you’d think the dragon would be easily seen. Of course, while the myth of the red dragon may be an inspirational allegory for the Britons victory over the Saxons, the symbol may take its origin from the Romans.
It may seem unlikely, but evidence of Roman activity is evident in Britain. Travel the land of the red dragon for a weekend, stopping at Caerleon Amphitheater. You’ll see where Romans congregated for entertainment, as well as a few bathhouse ruins (Romans took pride in their skin). The Caerleon ruins are integral to Arthurian legend: it’s allegedly the place of Camelot. Furthermore, the “round table” featured prominently in the myths may have been inspired by the shape of the Amphitheatre. So you’ll get a taste of medieval history in addition to the Romans.
Next stop, Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in Britain (after Windsor), and the first to both use water as a defense (think enormous moat) and be built using concentric design. While it may seem insignificant, this concentric design made it easier to access all parts of the castle, in addition to rendering siege machinery useless. What’s more impressive is the architecture: the last remodeling took place in 1322-6, and even then, it was only to make the dining halls grander. As a result, Caerphilly Castle remains a very pure example of 13th century architecture.
Finally, after this staggering display of might and determination, comes St. Fagan’s National History Museum, Wales’ leading open-air museum and cultural heritage attraction. Here, you’ll get a glimpse of everything Welsh, from the livestock, art, crafts, and even more architecture. And considering the “museum” is open-air, you won’t be stuffed into a large building, allowing you to stroll across a grassy Welsh plain to your next exhibit, as opposed to marble or granite floors (an omni-cultural staple of museums).
Stay tuned for Part 2!