Rhondda Cynon Taff is in South Wales. It has a population of around 234,000 and covers approximately 42,000 hectares. Here is a list of nearby or neighbouring counties: Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Powys, The Vale of Glamorgan.
The county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taff was created in 1996 and is named after the three valleys within its borders, which are called the Rhondda, Cynon, and Taff-Ely. During the industrial revolution the local economy began to be dominated by the coal mining, iron and steel industries, and the familiar 19th century terraced houses were built for the local workforce to live in. Coal heaps became prominent features of the landscape and industrial pollution caused environmental damage, though much work has been done to restore the countryside. The largest town in Rhondda Cynon Taff is Aberdare, which became a centre for Welsh language publishing and where the first National Eisteddfod was held in the year 1861. Located in Aberdare is the Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery, which has a collection reflecting the areas history. The art gallery has run exhibitions of contemporary arts and crafts, such as painting, photography, and pottery, as well as hosting classes teaching creative skills. Built in an Art Deco style during the 1930s, The Coliseum Theatre in the nearby village of Trecynon has provided a venue for performing arts events such as theatre productions, dance and music, as well as comedy shows, movies and community events.
With the decline of employment in heavy industry during recent decades there has been investment to encourage the growth of new industries, such as the Dragon International Film Studios which has been used in the filming of some movie and television productions. The Model House Craft and Design Centre in Llantrisant has a ground floor gallery exhibiting a range of handmade arts and crafts such as textiles, ceramics, jewellery and glass. The floor above has studio space, where artists and craft makers create the work they sell. The centre also runs events, such as arts and crafts workshops that are often taught by resident artists, craft makers and designers. The Rhondda Heritage Park, in the town of Pontypridd, provides an opportunity to learn about local Welsh history and culture. Also located within the heritage park, the Level One art gallery has served as a venue for exhibitions of work by local as well as national and international artists. Pontypridd museum has a collection of exhibits such as paintings, models, historic artefacts, photographs and documents which relate to the towns history and the people who helped to shape it.