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Wales' Twin Towns Around the World

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

The twinning of towns and cities around the world with one another is nothing new. From small villages to capital cities, places twin with similarly sized locations from all corners of the earth, usually with some common characteristics like a language, population size or shared history for example.

Wales is no different, and many towns, villages and cities are twinned with obscure, exotic and unexpected places around the world. Some of those connections are quite obvious and make sense, such as anywhere that has a connection with Brittany, like Caernarfon and Mumbles with the coastal towns of Landerneau and Hennebont respectively, which are just two of the dozens of twinning destinations between Wales and France. There are also strong connections with Argentina, of course, as the link between Aberystwyth and the Patagonian town of Esquel shows. All of those connections are rooted in language and cultural similarities, however, there are also some mysterious twinning connections, including locations in Mali, Georgia and Nepal, to name just a few.

With that in mind, let’s look at ten examples today of Wales’ twin towns, including some of the most surprising and interesting, and just how they came to be…

Cardiff and Nantes, France

Let's start with, perhaps, the most well known one. Wales and the French province of Brittany have cultural, linguistic and ethnic connections going back over a millennium, since some Brythonic peoples of southern Britain decided to flee the south coast towards what is now Brittany in the 600s and 700s. Nantes, the largest city in the area, was once a Breton city, although it is now considered to be part of Pays de la Loire, somewhat controversially. However, it is still strongly Breton in terms of its culture and identity.

On top of that historic connection, Cardiff and Nantes are similar in size, with central populations in the 300,000s and wider populations of up to one million people. Both have been traditionally major port cities, especially in the 19th century and both feature industrial highs and subsequent lows since between that time and today.

Boulevard de Nantes is a street in Cardiff, Wales, which is named after its twinning association with the French city of Nantes
Boulevard de Nantes, Cardiff

As many in Cardiff will be aware, there is also a Boulevard de Nantes in the city, a major ring road that intersects the city centre and the Civic Centre areas. There is also a Boulevard de Cardiff running parallel with the river in the French city.

Most recently Cardiff and Nantes have been in the news together due their respective football clubs, Cardiff City and FC Nantes, over the transfer of Emiliano Sala in January 2019. The small plane carrying the footballer from France to Wales crash landed in the channel due to severe weather conditions. The two clubs have been, unfortunately, on fairly negative terms ever since due to financial reasons.

Finally on Cardiff and Nantes, their relationship began on February 24th 1964 but their connections existed long in advance of that, with Nantes Chamber of Commerce documenting trade with Cardiff in coal and timber in 1729. Today, many school, youth and sport exchanges take place annually, which is the case in many of these twinning arrangements.

Llanwrtyd Wells and Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Llanwrtyd Wells and Český Krumlov have a strong bond that goes back to World War Two. Some 120 Czech children came to the Welsh town in 1939 as part of the Kinder Transport organised by Sir Nicolas Winton.

He organised the rescue of 669, mostly Jewish, children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. In his latter years, after his heroics came to public attention, Winton even visited Llanwrtyd Wells during one of the old school reunions.

The children attended the newly created Czechoslovak Secondary School in the town on their arrival, after the Czech government, in exile, rented a large home, which had once been part of a family farm estate. Many involved lost their families during the war but in some cases parents and children were eventually reunited.