Rhondda Cynon Taf is steeped in heritage with the Rhondda and Cynon Valleys being world famous for the important role played in the industrial revolution.
The journey taken by the people of Rhondda Cynon Taf is visible throughout the towns, landscape and villages. An eclectic mix of old and new makes this region such an interesting place to visit and the warm welcome will make you want to come back time and time again.
Even the effect of the Ice Age is visible, a glacial boulder which sits high on a hilltop overlooking the university town of Pontypridd and was once the site of a druid ritual.
Walk over the famous curved Pontypridd Bridge, which celebrates 250 years of service next year to the people of Pontypridd. Celebrate 150 years of the Welsh National Anthem, whose words are guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat to the proud people of Wales, at the statue of James James and Evan James in the beautiful Ynysangharad Park.
See, hear and touch all that a miner would at the site of a former colliery, or don a comfortable pair of walking shoes and experience the “greening” of the valleys first hand. See how Mother Nature has restored this fascinating region to its former glory by exploring the thousands of acres of national park land, formal Victorian parks and garden. Dotted within the greenery you will find a number of easy to access town centres. Traditional family run shops intermingled with famous high street names provide a snap shot of a bygone era where you can enjoy a bowl of cawl, (Welsh soup) and pick up the latest fashion accessories.
How to find
Go to Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley, follow the signs to Clydach Vale. You will find the wheel in the Cambrian Park.
The Cynon and Rhondda Valleys have a proud history of coal mining. Once it was one of the most important coal mining areas in the world. Today there is only one producing coal mine left – the Tower Colliery, near Hirwaun in the Cynon Valley, which is owned by the coalminers themselves.
The Gorsedd Stones is an impressive Bardic Circle in Treorchy, where the National Eisteddfod was held in 1928. The Gorsedd Circle of smaller stones was constructed in 1849 by Evan Davies, Bardic name "Myfyr Morganwg" and has often been used for Bardic gatherings, and as a focal point for the other public occasions.
The National Eisteddfod of Wales can be traced back to 1176 when it is said that the first Eisteddfod was held, under the auspices of Lord Rhys, at his castle in Cardigan. There he held a grand gathering to which were invited poets and musicians from all over the country. A chair at the Lord's table was awarded to the best poet and musician, a tradition that prevails in the modern day National Eisteddfod.
Following 1176, many eisteddfodau were held throughout Wales, under the patronage of Welsh gentry and noblemen. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, an Eisteddfod of historical significance was held at the Ivy Bush Inn in Carmarthen, when the Gorsedd of Bards first became officially associated with this national event. By this time, the Eisteddfod had developed in to a fully-fledged folk festival on a large scale.
James James and Evan James Memorial
It is said that a weaver from Pontypridd in Mid Glamorgan, Evan James, wrote the words one Sunday morning in January 1856 to a tune composed by his son James James, which is believed based on an old harp melody. The date of the song's adoption as the National Anthem is uncertain, but it is known that the tune was given prominence during the National Eisteddfod held at Bangor in 1874, and since that date has been considered the song, which, more than any other, expresses Welsh national sentiment.
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Dros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad;
Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau.
English translation of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau
The land of my fathers is dear to me,
A land of poets and minstrels, famed men.
Her brave warriors, patriots much blessed,
It was for freedom that they lost their blood.
Homeland! I am devoted to my country;
So long as the sea is a wall,
to this fair beautiful land,
May the ancient language remain.
Lady of Penrhys
How to find
At the Penrhys roundabout on the B4512, between Rhondda and Tylorstown.
The Lady of Penrhys is situated at one of the most terrific viewpoints of the region, giving splendid views over the Rhondda Valley. In 13th century, the Cistercian Monks from Llantarnam Abbey in Monmouthshire built themselves a Grange at Penrhys where some of them lived a simple agricultural life.
The story goes that one of them, whilst working in the fields, discovered a highly-ornate statue of the Holy Mother. The monks built a chapel and shrine to house the statue and Penrhys soon became a centre of devotion and the centre for vast numbers of pilgrims who came to pay homage and to be healed. The present statue was erected in 1953.
Miners Family Statue
How to find
Go to Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley. The statue is on the A4119 near Llwynypia.
The ‘Miner’s Family’ is a symbolic of Rhondda’s proud heritage. It honours the unique history of the Valleys and will serve to stand as testament to future generations of the fierce pride of the Miner and his Family.
The Rocking Stone or “Y Garreg Siglo” in Welsh is a glacial boulder remaining from the Ice Age. It formed the central point for a “Gorsedd” or “Gathering of Bards” in 1795, which was organised by stone mason, Edward Williams, known by his Bardic name as “Iolo Morganwg”.
The Old Bridge in Pontypridd
The famous single-arch Bridge at Pontypridd was built by William Edwards in 1756. It had taken 3 attempts to get the design to stand up, and although an attractive shape, was always a bit steep for wheeled traffic.