Have you ever wanted to look inside or behind the scenes of the buildings and places you pass every day? From medieval cottages to museums, from the quirky to the majestic, the grand to the minute, Open Doors is an opportunity to gain access to hidden and familiar places.

There are just under 700 events taking place across Wales throughout September and they’re all free of charge.

BBC Wales History asked Anna Lermon, project officer for the Civic Trust for Wales, to tell us a bit about the heritage scheme, and give a few examples of places from all over Wales that plan to throw open their doors next month. 

What is Open Doors all about?

"Open Doors is a celebration of buildings, architecture and heritage. It is a part of European Heritage Days and runs for the whole of September.

"Buildings which aren’t normally available to the public open up for people to see, buildings which normally charge people to go in waive their fees and buildings that are always open for free put on an event or exhibition."

Where can people visit?

"Right across Wales a broad range of sites take part from castles and historic houses, religious buildings, industrial heritage sites, civic buildings to interesting contemporary buildings.

"The programme also includes talks, lectures and events linked to heritage and the built environment. No matter where you live in Wales there is somewhere to visit. Here are a few examples:

Trefriw Mill on the banks of the Crafnant

"In north Wales, Trefriw Mill is open for guided tours. Situated on the banks of the Crafnant, it began as a pandy or fulling mill and has been in the same family since 1859. It now manufactures traditional fabrics.

Greek Orthodox Church Cardiff

"In Cardiff the Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas was built in 1906 in the Byzantine style. The interior of the church is very beautiful with a carved icon screen and wall paintings depicting scenes from the life of Christ and also St Nicholas.

"The Church has organised a lecture on Orthodox Christianity and a second on the art and architecture of this beautiful church.

Bishop's Palace in Lamphey

"In west Wales, the Bishop’s Palace in Lamphey, Pembrokeshire, was the summer residence of the Bishops of St Davids until the reign of King Henry VIII. The Open Doors event includes a display of birds of prey and talks on the uses of medieval herbs.

Architect's vision of completed Merthyr Tydfil town hall

"In the Valleys, the Old Town Hall in Merthyr Tydfil is a Grade II listed building built as the headquarters of civic life in the town. After 10 years of dereliction the town hall is being restored by Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association as a centre for culture, heritage and the creative industries.

South Wales Borders Museum


"In mid Wales, the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh Regiment dates from 1934. The museum contains uniforms, letters, documents, medals and paintings which detail the history of the regiment. The museum also has a Zulu War room commemorating the war of 1879."

How can people find out what to visit in their area?

"There’s a full diary of events listed on our website. Visit the Open Doors programme website www.opendoorsdays.org.uk for the full event listing and, where needed, booking details."

When does Open Doors 2012 start?

"There are events running from Saturday 1 September to Sunday 30 September."

Open Doors is organised by the Civic Trust for Wales, on behalf of Cadw, and is part of European Heritage Days, which takes place across 50 countries.

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