The name Ceredigion is a very old, historic name, dating back to the "Kingdom of Ceredig " in the 5th century.
Ceredig was the son of the Welsh ruler, Cunedda, who came south with his army in the Fifth Century, from Gododdin, the Welsh-speaking area around Edinburgh, after the Romans had departed from Britain, in order to drive Irish invaders , the Leini of Leinster, out of North Wales.
The land to the west of the River Teifi [or Tivy] was later given to Cunedda's son, Ceredig. Both the place-names Ceredigion and Cardigan derive from this ancient leader's name.
Modern day Aberystwyth is actually much more than a sea-side town.
Its position makes it the most important town and administrative centre on the western side of Mid Wales, although its importance is not reflected in its modest size.
Aberystwyth is home to the splendid, very large, National Library of Wales, which stands impressively on a hill overlooking the town. The National Library contains many rare manuscripts and books, which are of extreme importance, not only to Wales, but also internationally.
There are literary treasures here from Wales and the other Celtic countries. Amongst the finest is the illuminated "Black Book of Carmarthen", the oldest surviving manuscript written in the Welsh language. As far as Wales and the Welsh Language are concerned, this manuscript is priceless!
The first college of the University of Wales was located at Aberystwyth. Now, the university totally dominates the town. There are no fewer than 8000 students at Aberystwyth adding to a resident population of 12000.
Many of the students are from England, although there are a very substantial number of Welsh students, as well.
The university is particularly popular with Welsh-speaking students from all parts of Wales, because Aberystwyth and its hinterland, is such a strongly Welsh-speaking area. However, there are also quite a few international students, giving the town a cosmopolitan feel during term time.
Largely due to the high numbers of students, Aberystwyth, or Aber, as many of them call it, boasts far more cafes, restaurants and pubs than most towns of its size. They seem to be on every corner.
The town is also an excellent shopping centre, drawing shoppers in from a very wide radius of Mid Wales, plus holidaymakers, of course. The nearest towns of any size, Machynlleth to the north, Newtown and Llanidloes to the east and Aberaeron to the south...... are each quite a distance away. Therefore, Aberystwyth has a catchment area of up to 25 miles in places.
It is a very important centre for the farming community, of course, especially since the Welsh Plant Breeding station is located at Trawsgoed, just outside the town.
Over many years, Trawsgoed has bred many important varieties of grasses and cereals, now utilised extensively by farmers all over the world.
Important farmers livestock markets are also held in Aberystwyth.
The hills surrounding Aberystwyth carry thousands of sheep and beef cattle, as well as large numbers of dairy cattle.
As far as tourism is concerned, Aberystwyth has many attractions.
It has a long, sweeping, curved promenade, built in Victorian days with a pier at the southern end.
The pier, which has a nightclub, pub, ice-cream parlour, amusement arcade, snooker club and brasserie, is about 300 feet in length. It was formerly 900 feet when it was built in 1864.
Below the promenade is the North Beach, a safe bathing beach consisting of dark sand and shingle. There is also the smaller South Beach, below Aberystwyth Castle, on the other side of the pier.
The castle was built by the Anglo-Norman invaders in the 13th century as part of their defences against the native Welsh. The Normans did not conquer Wales until centuries after 1066.
Aberystwyth is surrounded on 3 sides by some of the most glorious countryside in the UK. Apart from the wonderful Ceredigion Heritage Coast, there are the mountains of Pumlumon to the north-east, where the sources of both the Severn and the Wye are to be found. Pumlumon is part of the Cambrian Mountain range, the last refuge of the Red Kite in Britain, until a few years ago.
There are threats to build massive 400 feet high wind turbines around Pumlumon. The proposals must be resisted or the wild beauty of the Cambrian Mountains will be greatly diminished.
There is also the picturesque Vale of Rheidol, or Rheidol Valley, which can be explored by one of the Great Little Trains of Wales, the Vale of Rheidol Narrow Gauge Steam Railway.
This travels upstream, in a deep valley, to Devils Bridge, where a huge waterfall tumbles headlong into the gorge.
Devils Bridge, or Pontarfynach in Welsh, is a very pretty village in the Cambrian Mountains, inland of Aberystwyth. The three ancient bridges, which give the place its name, are built on top of each other and are totally unique.
The River Rheidol, like the River Ystwyth, enters the sea at Aberystwyth. However, the town takes its name, "mouth of the Ystwyth" from the latter of the two rivers.
Other popular tourist attractions are the Aberystwyth Electric Cliff Railway which travels up Constitution Hill at the northern end of the promenade; Ceredigion Museum, which houses many interesting historical artefacts; the Victorian Camera Obscura, which provides panoramic views of the area; the Forest Visitor and Red Kite Centre at nearby Nant yr Arian and the historic church at Llanbadarn Fawr, named after the early Welsh saint, Padarn.
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, which displays the latest art, as well as providing film shows, is located on the university's Penglais Campus
Aberystwyth is, indeed a great centre for exploring a huge area of North Ceredigion and Mid Wales. Did you realise that it is only 38 miles from England, as the crow flies?
Of course it is a little further along the winding A44 road from Shropshire.........but the hill and mountain scenery en route is stunning!!