The southern Welsh county of Newport has a long history stretching as far back as to the Roman period. The Industrial Revolution saw the importance of the region grow, becoming a major hub for shipping and manufacturing. But the county also has some glamour, with Tredegar House bringing some aristocratic flair. The gorgeous Art Deco Newport Civic Centre is another stylish site that is definitely worth paying a visit.
Here are 7 of the best historic sites in Newport.
Built in approximately 75 AD, Caerleon Roman Fortress was a vast 50-acre fortress at the Roman Empire‘s westernmost frontier, and was big enough to house upward of 5,000 soldiers. Known as Isca, it was home to the Second Augustan Legion and was just one of three permanent Roman Legionary fortresses in Britain. Within the complex were a range of buildings vital to Roman life, including a grand bath house complete with cold pool, warm room heated by a hypocaust and even an open-air swimming pool.
Today, the well-preserved ruins of Caerleon Roman Fortress offer a fascinating insight into life at a Roman fort on the edge of the Empire. Amongst the highlights are its huge bathhouse, amphitheatre (the most complete in Britain) and the L-shaped barracks themselves.
The Wales National Roman Legion Museum explores the history and legacy of the Roman Empire’s furthest outpost – Wales. The small museum houses a range of artefacts including everyday utensils and pottery. Amongst its main highlights, are an impressive Roman gemstone collection, the remains of a 2nd-3rd century man together with his funereal items and coffin, and a 1st century Roman tablet inscribed in ink – the oldest recorded piece of writing in Wales.
The Wales National Roman Legion Museum is free to enter.
3. Newport Castle
This 14th century fortification was built for the purpose of managing the crossing of the River Usk. Since then, the castle was used as administrative offices for the collection of rent and dues from local tenants, and also as a residence and a garrison.
The castle has now largely been eaten-up by the ever-growing city of Newport, with the east side being the only surviving part of the castle. (What remains of the original Medieval gatehouse now houses a private residence.) Nevertheless it provides a striking visual feature to the banks of the River Usk.
4. Newport Civic Centre
5. Newport Transporter Bridge
Newport played an important role as a shipping hub in the industrial period of the early 20th century.
Industry was expanding on the east side of the river, but the city’s population was mainly based on the west side – meaning a 4 mile walk to cross the river by bridge to get to work. A transporter bridge offered an economical solution, and work took place between 1902-1906.
The Transporter Bridge, spanning 197 metres and designed to convey traffic across the river, is now a striking legacy of that era. It is one of only 6 operational transporter bridges left worldwide from a total of 20 constructed.
6. Tredegar House
There has been a house on this site since medieval times, but the red brick mansion that stands today was built in the 17th century. Since then, for centuries the house has been the home of the Morgan family, who had great influence over Newport. It is considered to be one of the grandest estates in the region. The main house, which is open to visitors, is surrounded by 90 acres of parks and splendid gardens.
Tredegar House is a must visit for anybody exploring Newport. The Brewhouse café will make sure that nobody will go hungry, while the vintage bookshop provides another layer of interests to the marvellous estate.
7. Newport Cathedral
This Norman church has its beginnings in the mid-12th century. It was built to the east of the original site of Gwynllyw’s church, yet still attached to it, to respect the sanctity of the original site and strength of the cult of St Gwynllyw (a 5th century welsh king and saint).
Major reconstruction work took place in 1402, with one of the biggest additions being the church tower.
In 1949, the site gained the status of a cathedral.