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Swansea tourist information & travel guide

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Swansea tourist guide

Unbeknown to many, Swansea, the second city of Wales, was once one of the key centres of the world's copper industry. In fact it once had the nickname 'Copperopolis'. However, the name Swansea owes much to its Nordic roots, as it originally developed as a Viking trading post and was called "Sveinsey" in Norse. Swansea only became a city in 1969 as a mark of commemoration of the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales.

There is much evidence in and around the city of its importance as a port for the trade in hides, cloth, wool, wine and later, with the onset of the industrial revolution, coal and copper smelting. During the 19th Century, zinc, tin and arsenic were processed with tinplate and pottery being produced, and there are some museums in the city well worth visiting that trace this important phase in the history of Swansea.

Thanks to regeneration following years of decline, the city North Dock is now Parc Tawe, a major leisure complex with cinema, ten-pin bowling and plenty of shopping. It has a very visible feature in the form of a large triangular tropical plant house called "Plantasia". The South Dock was transformed into the current modern day marina which is a mixture of living accommodation, shops, restaurants, pubs and hotels, as well as a clutch of amenities and attractions that include the Swansea Observatory, Swansea Museum, National Waterfront Museum (with its impressive displays of maritime, transport, technology and retail artifacts), Dylan Thomas Centre and Theatre. While the National Waterfront Museum is one of the newest museums in Wales, Swansea is also home to the oldest museum in Wales, the Swansea Museum. Both are well worth a visit.

It is only natural that Swansea life now centres on the dock and marina areas - about three quarters of the city is bordered by the sea and Swansea Bay has a five mile (8 km) sweep of coastline complete with beach, promenade, children's lido and leisure pool.

Unfortunately, there is not much trace in the city of its famous and historical roots. Because of its importance as an industrial centre, it was a prime target during the Second World War and much of the centre was flattened. However, the Guildhall, Swansea Castle and the Morriston Tabernacle still remain. The ruins of Swansea Castle are still an impressive reminder of life over 1000 years ago.

Shoppers won't be disappointed with a visit to Swansea. There is an eclectic mixture of shops from traditional high street names to independent retailers to boutiques selling the unique. And a visit to the market takes you to the largest undercover market in Wales. There is also plenty more to see and do in the city - the Grand Theatre with its range of entertainment throughout the year, Oystermouth Castle, Singleton Park, Clyne Gardens and Victoria Park, all with something for all members of the family.

Swansea is also incredibly well-placed for a host of holiday types. To the east is the coast with its wonderful sandy beaches; to the west you'll find wonderful rural terrain with plenty of small villages to visit; and to the North there is miles and miles of wonderfully open moorland, all the way to the Black Mountains. It is worth noting that the nearby Gower Peninsula was the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Swansea also has its fair share of notable residents over the centuries. On a world-wide level, the most famous could claim to be the poet Dylan Thomas who was born and grew up in the Uplands area of the city. Other famous Swansea residents include entertainer Sir Harry Secombe, writer Kingsley Amis, Dr Who writer Russell T Davies, entrepreneur and politician Michael Heseltine, satirist Ian Hislop and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, to mention but a few.

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