A mere 20-minute drive from the Welsh capital of Cardiff, the beautiful town of Caerphilly is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life. The area’s rugged beauty is well-documented, and visitors flock to the town to immerse themselves in its stunning landscapes, learn about its rich history and partake in the endless outdoor adventures on offer.
For those who want to dig a little deeper into the mysteries of this delightful Welsh town, we’ve pulled together 5 interesting things you might not know about Caerphilly.
1. Caerphilly is home to the biggest castle in Wales
Wales often conjures up images of spectacular scenery dotted with beautiful ancient castles, but did you know that the largest of them all sits in Caerphilly? Surpassed only in size by Windsor Castle in all of Britain, the magnificent Caerphilly Castle sprawls over 30 acres and is an awe-inspiring medieval fortress dating back to the thirteenth century.
With its concentric walls, enormous towers, impressive moat and a leaning tower to rival that of Pisa, it’s easy to see why the castle has been chosen as the backdrop for many film and TV productions, including Doctor Who.
The grounds and parts of the castle are open to visitors, who are invited to step back in time and immerse themselves in the history of this magnificent stronghold. You can meander through the labyrinthine corridors, climb the spiral staircases and stand atop the castle’s walls to take in breath-taking views of the awe-inspiring surrounding countryside.
Far from merely a static monument, the castle serves as a hub for cultural events and celebrations, hosting an exciting programme of events, including concerts, festivals and plays.
2. Caerphilly is the birthplace of some notable popular figures
For a small town in South Wales, Caerphilly has spawned an impressive number of well-known personalities.
Much-loved magician and comedian Tommy Cooper was born in Caerphilly in 1921. He is honoured by a statue that sits opposite the castle, paid for with funds raised by the Tommy Cooper Society. The statue was unveiled in 2008 by Tommy Cooper superfan and Society patron Sir Anthony Hopkins.
The band Manic Street Preachers was formed in Blackwood, Caerphilly, in 1986. They have since gone on to enjoy a hugely successful career, winning several prestigious music awards and headlining festivals, including Glastonbury and V Festival.
Other famous faces to hail from the area include Strictly Come Dancing’s Amy Dowden and footballer Aaron Ramsey.
3. Wales’s only native cheese was developed in Caerphilly
Nicknamed ‘The Crumbles’, the famous crumbly, white Caerphilly cheese was originally developed to make milk last longer. Now a staple of refined cheeseboards, the cheese is thought to have been a favourite of Caerphilly’s coal miners since its thick rind made it easy to eat, and its salt content helped to replace the minerals lost during a day’s hard graft.
As a result of competing demands on milk supply, the production of Caerphilly cheese was gradually scaled back. It eventually ground to a halt during World War 2, when the Government ordered farms to concentrate on milk production and banned cheeses that did not keep well, like Caerphilly.
Over time, some dairies resurrected the production of this much-loved cheese. Most were based in England, with Somerset and Wiltshire being the largest exporters. Earlier this year, though, a local farming duo took Caerphilly Cheese home when they began producing in the heart of the town.
4. Caerphilly hosts an annual festival dedicated to cheese
Caerphilly is transformed into a cheese-lover’s paradise for three days each year. Over 80,000 visitors descend on the town for the ‘Big Cheese Festival’ – Wales’s only festival dedicated to cheese.
The magnificent castle becomes a treasure trove of local and regional food and drink, with hundreds of stalls selling mouth-watering Welsh fare, including vast amounts of cheese!
Add to that an exciting entertainment programme including live music, medieval re-enactments and a funfair, it’s easy to see why the event is the highlight of Caerphilly’s social calendar.
5. In Caerphilly, you can take part in a cheese race!
The concepts of running and cheese are unlikely bedfellows, but Caerphilly manages to blend them seamlessly as part of its annual Great Cheese Race!
The race opens the town’s Big Cheese festival and sees competitors take part in a relay race carrying Caerphilly cheese on traditional stretchers through the castle’s grounds. Thousands of locals and visitors participate in the event, many donning fancy dress and raising money for worthwhile causes.
Scratch the surface of this beautifully picturesque Welsh town, and the reasons behind Caerphilly’s enduring appeal become immediately apparent. Alongside its quaint exterior and rugged beauty, the town’s unique offerings – from regular medieval re-enactments to cheese races – guarantee visitors of all types an experience to remember.
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