Information and Tourism
For many visitors travelling from England
, Gwent offers their first view of Wales
. Once over the Severn Bridge - an impressive enough sight in its own right, it is hard to resist pulling over to explore the modest Monmouthshire town of Chepstow, with its fascinating and fairly intact castle that is much loved by school history teachers.
Travel further west and sooner or later you will end up in Caerphilly, a stone's throw from Gwent's biggest city of Newport. Caerphilly is a town that is as renowned for its pale crumbly cheese as it is for its castle, which happens to be the largest in Wales. Caerphilly's other claim to fame is for the role it played in the Sex Pistols' controversy of 1976. The town's council was one of the few in the UK to allow the punk band's film 'The Filth and the Fury' to be played at its cinema. Nowadays, the town attracts crowds for quite a different reason, to participate in its annual 'The Big Cheese' celebrations.
Castles and cheese aside, there is a far grittier side to Gwent. Its valleys were once home to one of the most active mining districts in Wales. Towns like Abertillery, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar used to echo to the sound of miners' footsteps as they started or finished their shift below ground, as well as the clatter of iron and steel works. Of interest, the town of Tredegar was the birthplace of Aneurin Bevan, a former prominent Welsh Labour politician and mastermind of Britain's National Health Service.
When the mines and steelworks closed down, many of Gwent's industrial towns became little more than relics of a former, more prosperous age. Unemployment was high and times were undeniably hard. Times are a-changing, though, and many places like these are working hard to reinvent themselves. Nantyglo, a village that translates as 'brook of coal', is nowadays better known as a nature reserve, with acres of grassland and reservoirs for visitors and locals to roam and enjoy.
Gwent Information and Fast Facts
- Country: Wales
- Region: South-East Wales
- Population: approximately 575,500
- Biggest city: Newport
- Language: English and Welsh
- Area: 600 square miles / 1,555 square kilometres
WORLD GUIDES TO GWENT
World Guide to Newport, Wales
The third-biggest city in Wales, Newport is to be found in the Gwent area and is well-known for its industry and commerce. Much of Newport city centre has a strong Victorian character and is home to plenty of elegant structures.
Map of Wales