Newport, Wales is the jewel of the River Usk and has been a port for Britain since the Norman invasion. Newport’s town charter dates back to 1314 and it gained city status in 2002. At one point it was a larger coal exporter than Cardiff and though the docks eventually decreased in their importance to the city’s economy, Newport remained heavy into manufacturing. It has a long history that has provided many interesting places to visit within the city, from ties to ancient Rome to the most modern shopping centers. It was hard to nail down just ten places to see, so you can let us know if we left out something by adding it in the comments.
Part of Newport’s manufacturing history has centered around steel, and Peter Fink’s Steel Wave honors that legacy. The piece is 40 feet high and over 100 feet long as well as made of 50 tons of sheet steel. This centerpiece of the riverfront promenade was erected in 1990.
Friars Walk is one of the newer centers of life in Newport, a partly-covered shopping and leisure center in the heart of the bustling city. Besides the usual shops like H&M, Pandora, and Topshop, you can find a movie theater, bowling alley, and all of your favorite restaurants.
Newport Transporter Bridge
Now this is a truly interesting piece of technology. A transporter bridge is a moveable bridge that actually carries a section of itself over the water rather than having a long solid roadway. The Newport Transporter Bridge was built for the reason that a traditional bridge would have needed a very long approach ramp. The bridge is a Grade I listed structure and one of only ten such bridges in the world (plus it’s cheap to cross).
Belle Vue Park
Belle Vue Park is a lovely Victorian greenspace that has been the proud recipient of a Green Flag Award for over a decade. Cumbrian landscape architect T.H. Mawson designed it in 1891 and it has all the trappings you’d expect from an ornamental park of the era including conservatories, rockeries, pavilions, and a bandstand. It’s a blast from the past that makes for a lovely place to visit.
Newport Medieval Ship
Going back to Newport’s history as a port community, the Medieval Ship is an artefact that helps visitors learn about the kinds of vessels that visited the city hundreds of years ago. The ship was unearthed in 2002 and dates back to the 15th Century. Friends of the Newport Ship is an organization devoted to its restoration and offers chances to visit to learn more about its history and the ongoing restoration efforts.
Those wanting to visit the local manor house won’t be disappointed by Tredegar House. This 17th-Century estate dates back to King Charles II and belonged to the Morgan family for over 500 years. Now in the care of the National Trust, the house is available to visit with exhibits on the house’s inhabitants over the years as well as the beautiful gardens and seasonal events.
Newport Museum and Art Gallery
The Newport Museum and Art Gallery is the best chance to learn more about the city’s history and take in some culture. It’s been around since 1888 and features plenty of exhibits on natural history, social history, and archaeology in addition to covering the city itself. The art gallery is marvelous, showing off traditional British paintings alongside contemporary pieces, some of which have proved fairly controversial.
St. Woolos Cathedral
Also known as Newport Cathedral, St. Woolos predates the Normans, with the stone church having been established in the 9th Century. The Normans still managed to shape its architecture after a pirate attack damaged most of the church in 1050 and the new conquerors rebuilt the nave in 1080. St. Woolos has plenty more history beyond this, from an attack by Owain Glyndŵr to the English Civil War.
Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths
Just up the river from Newport is the ruins of the Roman town that preceded it. Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths were one of three legionary fortresses constructed in Britain, which alone makes it worth the visit. The excavation sites have been well preserved by Cadw and the museum built up around them will give you an idea of how important this posting was to the Roman Empire.
While it stands as a ruin today, Newport Castle has been a major part of the city’s history since it was built in the 14th Century to help cross the River Usk. This purpose has made it a strategic necessity in several historical conflicts including Owain Glyndŵr’s revolt and the English Civil War. Today, it is a Grade II listed structure and while it can’t be toured, it is still worth walking past to marvel at its significance.