The third largest town in Powys with a population of 7,900, it is an important local centre and market town. It stands on the River Honddu, which meets the Usk near the town centre, which made it a valuable defensive position for the late C11th Norman castle.
The Brecon Beacons are named after the practice of lighting fires as beacons on the hills and mountains to warn of attacks. The National Park was established in 1957 and covers some 519 square miles from Hay-on-Wye and the Black Mountains in the east to Llandeilo and the Black Mountain in the west; the highest point at 2,907 feet is Pen-y-Fan.
The 100-mile Beacons Way walk runs from east of Abergavenny, through Crickhowell to the village of Bethlehem in Carmarthenshire. The Park is known for its waterfalls, including the 27-metre Henrhyd Waterfall and the falls at Ystradfellte, and its caves, such as Ogof Ffynnon Ddu. The National Park Visitor Centre is located near Libanus to the south of Brecon.
Brecon Cathedral was, until the establishment of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in 1923, only a parish church; the buildings in the Cathedral Close are the remains of former monastic buildings and today provide the administrative centre for the 120 mile long Diocese as well as a heritage exhibition and restaurant.
The Romans stationed more than 600 soldiers in the area in 43AD and today the Beacons are an important area for military training. The South Wales Borderers Museum located in the town comprises artefacts obtained from worldwide sources that reflect the history and character of a regiment that has existed for over 300 years including their exploits in the Zulu War.
The town is an important agricultural centre and Farmers Markets are held in the Market Hall and around the town centre.
Brecon Leisure Centre has a 25m swimming pool and a learner pool, health suite, four badminton courts, two squash courts, indoor green bowls, five outdoor tennis courts and a six lane Ten Pin Bowling alley.
Since it opened in 1997, Theatr Brycheiniog has staged a wide range of performances from the likes of the Welsh National Opera to Basil Brush. Other facilities on the theatre site include a year-round programme of visual arts and an acclaimed bistro, Tipple'n'Tiffin. The theatre has a beautiful setting alongside a mooring basin on the restored section of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal which runs for 35 miles to Cwmbran following the scenic Usk Valley with glorious views of the Brecon Beacons; boat trips operate out of Brecon from Easter to October.
Brecon once had rail services from Neath, Hereford and Merthyr Tydfil but these were all closed in the 1960s. However, the Brecon Mountain Railway, a narrow gauge steam railway using locos and rolling stock from Europe and further afield, uses some of the former Brecon & Merthyr line. The trains start from Pant (about 20 miles south of Brecon) and run via Pontsticill Junction for 5 miles to Torpantau..
Llangorse Lake is located eight miles east of Brecon and visitor car parking is available on the lakeside to the west of Llangorse Village. The lake and its surroundings are home to a wide range of plants including lilies, dragon flies, fish (roach, perch, pike, bream, tench, carp and eel) and many different birds including great crested grebe, mute swan, Canada goose, moorhen and coot. Reed warblers and reed bunting breed around the lake which also hosts a number of winter visitors and migratory birds enroute including the occasional osprey.
The Sky Trek Experience at the Llangorse Multi Activity Centre is definitely exciting (although not for the faint-hearted) and consists of a two mile long series of 14 connected zip lines travelling between trees and free-standing platforms at heights of up to 70ft as it meanders its way down the mountainside. The system hangs in the canopy of the trees and above the open farmland with breathtaking panoramic views across Llangorse Lake to the peaks of the Brecon Beacons in the distance.