Hotels in Newport, United Kingdom
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Newport – From Roman Outpost to Industrial Powerhouse
Situated in a strategic position at the mouth of the River Usk, this area has been permanently settled since at least Roman times, with ruins, renovated buildings and other attractions from that period being accessible to modern day visitors. In times past, its port served the South Wales valleys and its coal industry. While still a bustling city, Newport is now perhaps better known for its beautiful cathedral, its role as a bedroom community of Cardiff and as a good base to explore the Wye Valley and other country areas.
Hints of the Roman Occupation Abound
Like many other cities in the UK, Newport mainly traces its origins to the Romans, who built a fort and settlement at Caerleon to defend the strategic River Usk crossing. Modern visitors can use one of the many bridges to make that crossing without suffering attacks, whether by Romans or anyone else. Those interested in the history of the city from Roman times have several sites they can visit to learn more. Most of these are in Caerleon, the Roman name for the settlement, approximately five miles to the north of the CBD hotels. A good place to start would be the National Roman Legion Museum. It lies within the ruins of the Roman fortress and incorporates these into its site and displays. The museum includes displays of artefacts, while the site features the only Roman legionary barracks on view anywhere in Europe and very popular ruins of the Roman baths.
A Compact City Centre on the River Usk
Most visitors to Newport head to the CBD, where they can find all the amenities they’ll need for a comfortable stay, including most the city’s hotels, pubs, restaurants and some great shopping locations. Commercial Street is the main thoroughfare and is perhaps the best place for a newcomer to get their bearings. Like many other streets in the centre, it is largely pedestrianised, and so shoppers and revellers can stroll along relatively easily. Friars Walk Shopping Centre is just off this street and offers not only some of Newport’s best shopping, but also a cinema, bowling alley and other leisure amenities. Those looking for a bit more atmosphere could head to Newport Market. Situated closer to the river, it is a gorgeous traditional Victorian market especially well known for its butchery, greengrocer and other food stalls. But the city’s loveliest attraction is not a place of commerce, but contemplation. Newport Cathedral, more typically referred to as St Woolos Cathedral, has a history dating back to the fifth century and has a simple but elegant design typical of medieval cathedrals.
A Flourishing Arts and Culture Scene
There’s no denying that Newport and Gwent County have lost much of their industrial base over the last century or so. But unlike many other cities subject to the same forces of deindustrialisation, it has managed to reinvent and revitalise itself. Particular efforts have been made to encourage the arts, with the modernist Riverfront Arts Centre playing a leading role in this effort. Built on the River Usk, right in the centre of the city, its two theatres host everything from Operas to stand up comedy. There is also a small art gallery onsite showcasing contemporary local talent. Newport is well known for its live music scene, once bearing the title of “The New Seattle” on account of its alternative rock scene. Most of the gigs are in pubs and clubs located in the CBD and are easily reached from most of the city’s hotels. The city is also known for its public art works, especially modern sculpture. Perhaps the best known among these is the dramatic Newport Wave steel sculpture, which can be found in the Newport Market precinct.
To the Wye Valley and Beyond
Newport is a popular base for those looking to visit the Wye Valley and other areas of exceptional natural beauty in historic Monmouthshire. Travellers can check into their Newport hotel rooms and make day trips to the Wye Valley and elsewhere. Chepstow, with its striking castle overlooking the valley is very popular, but visitors would be well-advised to venture deeper into the valley to enjoy this incredibly beautiful and tranquil area. Many of the wild and windswept hills of the Brecon Beacons National Park are less than an hour’s drive from Newport. Those travellers willing to put in a bit of leg-work to get off the beaten trail will be rewarded with some of the most evocative landscapes in Britain. Those feeling a little less energetic, and those with small children in tow, should head to the Brecon Beacons Mountain Railway Station. Leisure trips into the park are offered on historic carriages pulled by steam engines. The trips are typically a hit with steam enthusiasts and families with younger children, with tracks heading deep into the National Park.
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