The cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Wales is the largest in the country—all out of proportion to the tiny town of St. Davids (population less than 2,000) in which it sits. Unlike many other cathedrals that
dominate their surroundings, St. Davids is hidden away in a valley, a reminder of the days when it needed to be secluded from Viking raiders and marauding pirates. It’s a short walk beyond the shops and houses of the town center, along a narrow street and through an ancient gatehouse, to reach the viewpoint overlooking the cathedral; a long flight of steps leads you down to its door.
St. David was born in this coastal corner of southwestern Wales around a.d. 500 and returned later in life to found a monastic community that grew to great importance. The cathedral, begun in the 12th century, was built in the same spot, flanked by the once magnificent Bishop’s Palace, now a glorious ruin. St. David is buried here, making it Wales’s most sacred site, with visitors still flocking as they did in the Middle Ages when the cathedral was one of Britain’s most important places of pilgrimage.