Cardigan Castle's go-ahead for £10m restoration
A medieval castle's multimillion-pound restoration project has been given the final go ahead after the award of £4.5m European money.
The grant for Cardigan Castle is on top of £4.7m lottery money secured earlier this year.
It will be spent on a museum, workshops and cafe and conservation work on the castle walls, buildings and gardens.
The aim is to increase visitor numbers from 3,000 to 30,000.
The 12th Century building is regarded as the first stone castle built by the Welsh princes and was the stronghold of Rhys ap Gruffydd, prince of Deheubarth.
It also hosted what is regarded to be Wales' first eisteddfod.
The restoration project will create 19 jobs.
The Welsh Government secured the £4.3m from the European Regional Development Fund.
It has also pledged a further £460,000 through Cadw, its Welsh heritage section.
Huw Lewis AM, minister for heritage, said the aim was to attract more visitors and bring wider economic benefits to Cardigan and south Ceredigion.
A £4.7m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant was announced in March.
Plans to conserve the castle and improve tourist facilities have been 10 years in planning.
'Hopes and dreams'
The Friends of Cardigan Castle say the Welsh prince Lord Rhys ap Gruffydd built a new stone and mortar castle after demolishing the former Norman castle.
And in 1176 he invited bards and musicians to celebrate an event which became known as the first eisteddfod in Wales.
Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust has been working since 2001 to conserve the castle.
It has been working with owners Ceredigion council on a joint lottery bid for the last three years to turn it into a major tourist destination.
The castle gardens, which were not landscaped until the early 19th Century, are registered by Welsh monuments agency Cadw.
Restoration plans include an events area and a croquet lawn which will tell the story of the eisteddfodau.
Buildings will be house a museum, and heritage learning centre in a converted stable block, craft workshops, shop, cafe and self-catering holiday accommodation.
Prince Charles has lent his support to the restoration and it also featured in the BBC's Restoration programme in 2004, but failed to make the final.
Cadwgan Buildings Preservation Trust chair Jann Tucker said Thursday's announcement will help the group to "bring to fruition our hopes and dreams for the restoration of Cardigan Castle - a project that so many people have worked so hard for, over so many years".
"We are thrilled to have been given such an opportunity," she said.