A railway links Aberystwyth with Shrewsbury, and a steam train can be taken to Devil's Bridge. Aberystwyth is a major tourist centre and a cultural link between the north and south of Wales. It has a pier and a fine sea-front which stretches from Constitution Hill at the north end of the Marine Terrace to the mouth of the harbour. The town is relatively modern, but contains a number of historic buildings, including the remains of the castle and the "imposing but fantastic structure" of the old buildings of the University College of Wales near the Castle Hill. The new campus lies to the east of the town.
Much of the finest scenery in mid-Wales lies within easy reach of Aberystwyth including the wilderness of the Cambrian mountains whose valleys contain forests and meadows which have little changed in centuries. The town is generally regarded as the capital of west Wales, and several institutions have regional offices there. Perhaps the most important of the public bodies located in Aberystwyth is the National Library of Wales (founded 1907).
The history of Aberystwyth may be said to date from the building of a fortress on the present Castle Hill, in 1109. Edward I rebuilt Strongbow's castle in 1277, after its destruction by the Welsh. Between the years 1404 and 1408 Aberystwyth Castle was in the hands of Owen Glendower, but finally surrendered to Prince Harry (the future King Henry V of England, and shortly after this the town was incorporated under the title of Ville de Lampadarn, the ancient name of the place being Llanbadarn Gaerog, or the fortified Llanbadarn, to distinguish it from Llanbadarn Fawr, the village one mile inland. It is thus styled in a charter granted by Henry VIII, but by Elizabeth I's time the town was invariably termed Aberystwyth in all documents. In 1647 the Parliamentarian troops razed the castle, so that its remains are now inconsiderable, though portions of three towers still exist.