Tuesday, 14 July 2015

NEWPORT



Newport is one of those places I tend to go through rather than to, more often than not in my rush to get to Cardiff.  However, that is not to say that there is nothing to see in this university city, which has a cathedral and the remains of a castle among its  points of interest.  Probably the most interesting sight of all is the Transporter Bridge, one of only two in the country - the other one being in Middlesbrough.  The bridge was built as an alternative to the original ferry, which suffered from the extreme rise and fall of the tides.  It opened in 1906 and it is still open to the public, ferrying passengers and vehicles across the River Usk by  means of a suspended gondola, offering splendid views along the way. 

Newport Cathedral, or to give it its full name Newport Cathedral of St. Woolos, King & Confessor, lies in an elevated position on Stow Hill, overlooking the city.  St. Woolos (or Gwynllyw) reputedly founded the cathedral around 500 AD, the year of his death.  The cathedral's subsequent history was a turbulent one with successive plunderings, by Irish pirates and by Danes in the 9th century, then by Earl Harold's men in 1060.  One of its most attractive features are the Norman pillars running along the nave.  The castle was built in the 14th century, and only the east side remains, occupying a position on the river bank next to the Town Bridge.  The Riverfront, a striking angular white building on the River Usk, houses a theatre and arts centre.  The city's Museum and Art Gallery tells the story of the city from prehistoric times.

Further afield to the north-east is Caerleon, a must for enthusiasts of Roman remains.  The legionary fortress Isca Augusta once held sway here, and the site includes an amphitheatre where gladiatorial contests used to take place.  Near Isca Augusta are the National RomanLegion Museum and the Roman Baths Museum.  There is also an Iron Age Hill Fort.  For nature enthusiasts, the Newport WetlandsRSPB reserve at Nash, on the east bank of the river mouth, is free to enter and includes a visitor centre and cafe.    

Map of the area. 

File:Newport Transporter Bridge 2002.jpg
Newport Transporter Bridge and gondola. Photo by Hywel Williams, via Wikimedia Commons.

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