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image for Town item typeSt David's

Town

St David's

St David's

Details

Perched at the forgotten tip of the Pembrokeshire peninsula and saturated with the echoes of a largely mysterious and dark past, St David's can feel like the spiritual home of Welsh history. This rather clandestine majesty is embedded in the sheer scale of the monumental Cathedral, the huge stone blocks, heavy with time, that are at odds with the tiny community that surrounds it.

According to legend St David was born here in around 500 AD and soon after founding a church and charitable monastery became the most influential clergyman in Wales during the hallowed ‘Age of Saints’. The monastery, despite frequently being raided by Vikings, became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the Europe. The cathedral that stands on the site of the monastery today is a Norman creation and welcomed successive British monarchs during the middle ages. Next to the cathedral lie the ruins of the Bishop's Palace, which was once a magnificently grand estate but was desecrated during the Reformation. Today the cathedral and the palace still draw thousands of visitors though not all come to practice their faith.

The rest of the ‘city’, is as charming as one might expect with a host of arts and craft galleries, a local market and quaint café’s to keep the ‘pilgrims’ entertained. St David's is also situated in the heart of the Pembrokeshire National Park and connected to some renowned coastal trails. The aptly named Whitesands Beach is a haven for surfers and has been awarded Blue Flag status, whilst the Oriel y Parc Gallery in the National Park Visitors Centre holds a fantastic collection of paintings by Graham Sutherland.

HISTORY & CULTURE
Legend states that the Patron Saint of Wales was born to Saint Non and baptised in around 500AD at Porthclais, which is now the city's port. David (or Dewi) soon founded a monastery at Rose Vale on the banks of the River Alun. The strict rules of the brotherhood ensured that the land was cultivated and the poor were charitably catered for. The settlement became known as David's Home, and then just St Davids after the archbishopric of Caerleon was passed there in 519.

Although the original Cathedral was destroyed in 1087 by marauding Vikings, the present one was soon rebuilt by the Normans and preserved the remains of the Patron Saint. St David's soon became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe and attracted visits from the highest echelons of church and state, who were happy to make use of the extraordinarily opulent furnishings at the neighbouring Bishops Palace.

The dissolution of the monasteries hit the St David's clergy very hard and by the 19th century St David's was isolated and neglected. The advent of tourism and the improvement of transport links gradually led to a revival of St David's fortunes and in 1994 it was awarded city status.

Contact

St David's Information Centre

Address

St David's,
Pembrokeshire,
SA62 6NW

Location

Directions

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Map reference: SM 756252  Lat: 51.88028 Long: -5.26075

A487 from Haverfordwest or Fishguard.

Accessible by Public Transport: 16 miles from Haverfordwest station