|Wales' second largest city is renowned for the
good humour of its people and for its nightlife, the best in the
principality. Its most famous son, the poet Dylan Thomas, called it the
"lovely-ugly' town. Swansea's long history of heavy industry coupled
with the post-war rebuilding of the bombed out centre did not bequeath a
beautiful city. But new developments have provided a face lift, most
notably the marina and surrounding Maritime Quarter on the derelict
western docks. Swansea is also blessed with beautiful parks and gardens, a
six mile long sandy beach and, on its doorstep, one of the most stunning
coastal areas in Britain, the Gower Peninsula.
Running parallel to the strand, from the train station just north of the centre down to the Maritime Quarter, is the High Street, becoming Castle Street then Wind Street (pronounced "Wined"). The Castle Street stretch is overlooked by the ruins of Swansea's 14th century castle. Opposite, the newly built Castle Square with its fountains and waterfall provides a focal point for the city, hosting live music and entertainment on summer days. Castle Street and Wind Street contain several attractive older buildings, now mostly lively pubs, cafes and bars.
Castle Square leads to Princess Way and the main shopping area, bounded by The Kingsway to the north, with its high density of nightclubs, and Oystermouth Road, the main coastal route, to the south. Small independent shops abound in the streets and arcades off Singleton Street and Oxford Street. High street chains line Oxford Street and fill the glassy covered shopping precinct, the Quadrant Centre. Just north of the Quadrant is Swansea market, the largest covered market in Wales with stalls selling laverbread (a local delicacy made from seaweed), locally caught seafood and fish, Welsh cakes and Welsh cheeses. The bus station is just east of the Quadrant.
On Singleton Street the impressively refurbished Grand Theatre offers a dynamic and popular repetoire. A short way west, shopping gives way to spectator sport with the home of Swansea City Football Club. Viewed from the sea, the Vetch Field floodlights vie for prominence with the white tower of the 1930s Guildhall located near the seafront at the end of St Helen's Road. Its fabulous Brangwyn Hall is used for conferences and musical performances.
Uplands, Sketty and Blackpill
Further west is Sketty, home to the university and to the glorious botanical gardens in Singleton Park. Within the university campus is the Taliesin Arts Centre, a venue for dance, theatre and film which also houses the Ceri Richards Art Gallery and Egypt Centre.
At Blackpill, south of Sketty, there are the Clyne Gardens and Clyne Castle to explore along with their surrounding expanse of park and woodland.