Carmarthen or Caerfyrddin, in Welsh, was named as one of the best places to live in Wales in 2017 and is one of the oldest, if not the oldest towns in Wales. It is situate on the banks of the River Tywi, on the edge of the lush Tywi Valley, close to beaches and the Pembrokeshire National Park. It combines a modern outlook, with its ancient past, from the old parts of the town with specialist individual shops and businesses to the new shopping areas with the usual chain stores. There are many different cafes and restaurants and the town provides an interesting day out for locals and the many visitors alike.
A little bit for the history buffs The Romans built a fort here around 75 AD and the settlement was called Moridunum, or Sea Fort, situate on one of the famous old Roman Roads, the Via Julia. Little now remains of the old Roman settlement, apart from the ruins of an amphitheatre, one of only 7 in the UK. Carmarthen has its own Norman castle, built in the 11th century,the ruins of which still tower over the river, on the edge of town. Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin, the Black Book of Carmarthen,was written in the Priory in Carmarthen and dates from 1250, and is the earliest surviving manuscript, written solely in Welsh and contains some of the earliest references to the stories of the Mabinogion, and the legends of King Arthur and Merlin. It can be seen in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, where it is kept in special storage,to preserve it. According to Arthurian legend, Merlin was born in a cave outside the town and the town's Welsh name Caerfyrddin, means Merlins Fort in English. Years ago, there was an old oak tree in the town, called Merlins Oak, and legend has it that "when Merlin's Oak comes tumbling down, down shall fall Carmarthen town". As a result of the superstition, when the tree died, it was dug up and pieces of it are preserved to this day. There are many archaeological remains and old monuments around the town, such as the Old Priory, founded in the 1100s and monuments dedicated to old war heroes, such as Picton's Monument and the statue of General Nott in Notts Square. The architect John Nash lived in the town for several years and worked on several buildings in the are, including the old jail, remains of some of the cells of which, still exist to this day,under County Hall. Carmarthen was the centre of the Rebecca Riots. These were brought about due to poverty, when toll gates were constructed by local landowners who then overcharged local people to use the roads in the locality passing through their land. The protestors burned and destroyed the gates and the town workhouse in 1843. The protestors dressed as women to disguise themselves, and the name Rebecca, derives from a passage in the bible, which includes the words "let thy seed possess the gates of those which hate them". If you are interested in this period of local history, there is an excellent novel about the time "The Hosts of Rebecca" by Alexander Cordell. Farming has always been one of the main stays of the economy, but other industries have come and gone over the centuries such as woollen and cloth and the town even had a florishing port for many years as the River Tywi is tidal up to the Quay in Carmarthen Carmarthen elected the first Plaid Cymru member of parliament, Gwynfor Evans, in 1966
see picture below) Today, Carmarthen is a thriving expanding County Town with its own university, Welsh Government Offices, and the Headquarters of S4C, the Welsh language television channel and many and varied places to eat, if you are on a day out Cafe No 4 in Queen Street next door to us, is excellent for a real gourmet meal - just check out the reviews on Trip Advisor - fine dining at its best - just have a look at a trifle from our office Xmas dinner. It has a thriving tourist industry, with many attractions on its doorstep or within easy reach, such as the beaches of Saundersfoot and Tenby, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the Carmarthenshire Cycling Path, Dryslwyn, with its picturesque old castle, Laugharne with its castle and the Boathouse where Dylan Thomas lived and wrote Under Milkwood, said to be based on certain local inhabitants, the National Botanical Gardens (picture below), Aberglasney Gardens, Oakwood Theme Park, the Gwili Steam Railway at Bronwydd and many other attractions. If you are lucky you may even see fishermen practising the ancient art of coracle fishing on the Tywi (picture below).