10 Most Beautiful Castles in Wales

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10 Most Beautiful Castles in Wales

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Category : Europe , Wales

With more ancient fortresses per square mile than anywhere else in Europe, Wales is Britain’s undisputed king of castles. Most of the structures date back to the reign of King Edward I, who built the castles to help him hold onto his newly acquired lands. Known today as Edwardian castles, the fortresses marked a new era in castle construction. Instead of the classic motte-and-bailey design with its central keep and outer stockade, Edwardian castles feature rings of walls and multiple towers that make them look as if they were lifted out of a fairytale. That storybook quality makes castles in Wales particularly attractive as family vacation destinations, but people of all ages are sure to find them enchanting.

10. Criccieth Castle

Criccieth Castle


Resting atop a headland jutting out into Tremaddog Bay, Criccieth Castle demonstrates the influence that King Edward I had on Welsh fortress construction. Built by Llywelyn the Great in the late 13th century, the design included many features of Edwardian castles, including an outer wall, outward-facing arrow slits and murder holes in passageways. The castle changed hands between the Welsh and English until the 15th century when it was burned during the last great Welsh rebellion. Visitors to Criccieth can wander through the ruins and explore exhibits about the history of Welsh castles.

9. Carreg Cennen

Carreg Cennen


Perched on a rocky limestone hill in the town of Llandeilo in Carmartenshire, Wales, Carreg Cennen Castle is prized for the views it offers as much as for its ancient history. The 12th-century Welsh structure was built by Rhys of Deheubarth and was rebuilt in the 13th century by John Giffard on behalf of Edward I. Although much of the castle was destroyed during the Wars of Roses, the ruins are well worth a visit. Visitors who climb their way to the hill’s summit are rewarded with breathtaking views.

8. Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle


Built on the banks of the Taff River, Cardiff Castle has a history that dates back to Britain’s Roman occupation. Over the centuries, it has been transformed into a Norman keep, a medieval fortress and a Gothic residence. In the 1800s, the third Marquess of Bute turned the structure into a fairytale-like castle in the Gothic Revival style. Today, the castle is operated by the city of Cardiff as a tourist attraction. Visitors can tour the castle’s sumptuous apartments, explore the Firing Line regimental museum and roam the beautifully landscaped parks around the castle grounds.

7. Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle


Raglan Castle in the county of Gwent was one of the last medieval castles in Wales, and the structure demonstrates how Britain’s fortresses eventually gave way to palaces. Although it was designed for defense when construction began in 1435, attention was also paid to human comfort with an array of luxurious apartments built around a scenic courtyard. A climb to the top of the Great Tower offers views of the moat below and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the cellars, which were built to hold hundreds of casks of wine, and can view medieval wood carvings still visible on the castle’s long gallery.

6. Pembroke Castle 

Pembroke Castle


Located in the county of Pembrokeshire in Southeast Wales, Pembroke Castle is the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It’s also one of the oldest and best preserved. Construction dates back to 1093 when the Earl of Shrewsbury took control of the town from the Welsh. Famed as the place where Henry VII was born, Pembroke began to fall into decay in the 17th century but was fully restored during the early 1900s. Open to the public, the castle features staged tableaux that depict events in the castle’s history, battle re-enactments and falconry displays.

5. Caerphilly Castle 

Caerphilly Castle


Situated on an island on a massive estate in the county of Gwent, Caerphilly Castle is considered the first true concentric castle built in Wales. The inner ward with its rounded corner towers is surrounded by an outer wall with an attached guardhouse. Construction of the fortress began in 1268 by Earl Gilbert de Clare, who built the castle on the site of an ancient Roman fort. Although stone from the castle was later taken to build homes in the region, Caerphilly was restored by a coal baron during the Victorian Era.

4. Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle


King Edward I and his favored architect James of St. George had perfected the art of castle building by the time they began construction of Beaumaris Castle in 1295. Located on the Isle Anglesey in the county of Gwynedd, the beautifully designed concentric castle features a moat connected to the sea, round towers on every corner and staggered entrances and portcullises between the inner ward and outer wall. Although the inner apartments of the castle were never constructed, the castle remains an imposing sight. Visitors are free to explore the grounds and wander through passages in the walls.

3. Conwy Castle 

Conwy Castle


Located in the picturesque town on Conwy on the North Coast of Wales, Conwy Castle was built by King Edward I between 1283 and 1289. The castle is considered one of the finest works by architect James of St. George. Built to take advantage of its location on a rocky hill on the banks of the Conwy Estuary, the well-preserved castle features two fortified gateways, eight gigantic towers and massive great hall. Knowledgeable guides offer one-hour tours that take visitors from the castle’s royal chambers and chapel up to the top of the battlements.

2. Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle


Built on the summit of a 60 meter (200 foot) high hill overlooking Cardigan Bay and the Llŷn Peninsula, Harlech Castle may be marked by centuries of battle and decay, but it’s still one of the most popular castles in Wales. Built for Edward I in 1283, architect James of St. George took advantage of the site’s sheer cliffs on the northern and western boundaries to strengthen the castle’s fortifications. The castle was attacked almost as soon as it was completed and served as a fortress well into the 1600s. Today, visitors can roam the castle ruins and enjoy one of the finest views on the Cambrian coast.

1. Caernarfon Castle

#1 of Castles In Waleswikipedia/Herbert Ortner

Located on the mouth of the River Seiont in the town of Caernarfon, Caernarfon Castle is beautiful example of the Edwardian style of castle. Designed by the era’s premier architect James of St. George, construction of the castle began in 1283 with the building of a huge outer wall that encircled the entire settlement, much of which still stands today. A series of towers and gates built along the castle’s inner wall offered added protection. King Edward’s son was born in Caernarfon and was dubbed the Prince of Wales, a title that the heir to the throne has been awarded ever since.

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10 Best Places to Visit in Wales

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Category : Europe , Wales

Wales shares a great deal of history with the rest of Great Britain, but the rugged beauty of its landscapes and the open nature of its inhabitants make it a distinctly unique travel destination. For first-time visitors, the most obvious difference between Wales and the other lands in the United Kingdom is the tongue-twisting Welsh language. While everyone speaks English, part of the fun of visiting Wales is learning a few phrases of one of the oldest languages in Europe. Besides its Celtic culture, the country is also famous for the large number of imposing castles. Wales’s scenic mountains, valleys and coastlines are just as enchanting, and no visit to Wales is complete without a long tramp through one of its stunning national parks. An overview of the best places to visit in Wales:

10. Aberystwyth



Known by the locals as “Aber,” Aberystwyth is an historic university town situated on the west coast of Wales. With 7,000 students attending school in Aberystwyth each year, it’s no surprise that the town is also a popular holiday destination for young people as evidenced by the city’s more than 50 pubs. The seafront features charming Victorian architecture with a wide promenade where visitors can sit and soak up the sun. Perched atop one of the surrounding hills are the remnants of a massive Iron Age fortress. The remains of the first Norman castle built in Wales can be found in Aberystwyth too.

9. Caernarfon



Located in northern Wales, the city of Caernarfon is best known for its 13th-century castle, which is considered one of the best preserved fortresses in all of Wales. Although the castle was built as a royal palace as well as a military stronghold for Edward I, the inner buildings and apartments have all but disappeared. The defensive murder holes, gates, portcullises, towers and walls survive, however, offering visitors a clear understanding of what lengths the English had to take to hold off the Welsh. King Edward’s son was born in Caernarfon and named the Prince of Wales, and the northeast tower now showcases the Prince of Wales Exhibition.

8. Hay-on-Wye



Hay-on-Wye is a small town on the River Wye, very close to the English border and within the borders of Brecon Beacons National Park. The National Book Town, with at least two dozen bookshops, Hay-on-Wye is probably best known as the location of a prestigious annual Hay Festival, sponsored by the Guardian newspaper. The festival stated in 1988 and today draws 80,000 people annually to discuss to discuss the arts with well-known writers, philosophers and other artists.

7. St. David’s Cathedral

St. David's Cathedral


Located in the City of St. David’s in Pembrokeshire county, St. David’s Cathedral is a beautiful example of religious architecture in the Middle Ages. The patron saint of Wales, St. David was a Welsh bishop of the Catholic Church during the 6th century and was buried in the site’s original structure. Construction for the existing cathedral was begun in the 1180s using purple-colored sandstone. Now part of the Church of Wales, the Norman cathedral houses numerous treasures, including 800-year-old bishop staffs gilded with gold, 13th-century silver chalices and a 1620 edition of the Welsh Bible.

6. Brecon Beacons National Park

Brecon Beacons National Park


Named after the pair of nearly 900-meter (3,000-foot) hills situated in the heart of the park, Brecon Beacons features a landscape of rolling hills, rocky river valleys, grasslands and water meadows. The park is dotted with archeological remnants of Wales’ long history too, including Neolithic cairns, Bronze Age standing stones, Iron Age forts and crumbling Norman castles. The park also contains numerous underground caves and beautiful waterfalls, including the Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall where visitors can walk behind a curtain of water. The National Park Centre located near the city of Brecon is a good place to begin explorations of the park.

5. Cardiff 



Located in the southeast corner of Wales, Cardiff became the country’s capital in 1955 and launched a number of projects to improve the ancient port city shortly thereafter. The 74,200-seat Millennium sports stadium and the futuristic Wales Millennium Centre for the performing arts have now joined Cardiff Castle as the city’s star attractions. The 11th-century castle gives visitors a great introduction to Welsh history, and a climb to the top of the keep offers stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside. With its exhibits of Roman pottery and gold jewelry dating back to the Bronze Age, the National Museum Cardiff is also a must-see attraction.

4. Conwy 



An ancient town with a rich history, Conwy is located in North Wales on the Conwy Estuary near the forests of Snowdonia. The dark-stoned fortress of Conwy Castle dominates the cityscape. Built in the 1280s by Edward I, the castle’s mammoth curtain walls and eight round towers remain intact and imposing. Views from the battlements offer visitors a bird’s eye view of the castle’s Great Hall and of the walls and towers that surround the medieval town. With its Byzantine processional cross and 15th-century screens, the church of St. Mary’s is worth a visit as well.

3. Pembrokeshire Coast

Pembrokeshire Coast


Home to the only coastal national park in Wales, Pembrokeshire county encompasses the country’s southwestern peninsula and offshore islands. Visited by more than four million people each year, the national park is best known for the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which winds for 300 km (186 miles) along cliff tops overlooking the craggy shoreline. The area is famed for its wildlife too. Seals bask on the rocks below and hundreds of species of birds soar overhead. For adrenaline junkies, opportunities for wind, kite and conventional surfing abound along the region’s numerous beaches, and there are quaint fishing villages and ancient castles to explore as well.

2. Llandudno



Nestled between the limestone headlands of Great Orme and Little Orme in North Wales, Llandudno is the country’s largest seaside resort and arguably its most charming. Built during the 1950s by the wealthy Mostyn family, Llandudno has all the attributes that wealthy Victorians looked for in a summer resort, including a promenade stretched along the town’s northern beach with a 700-meter (2,300-foot) pier jutting into the bay at the end. Built in 1902, the Great Orme Tramway climbs to the 200 meter (680-foot) summit of the headlands where visitors can put on their hard hats for a self-guided tour of an old copper mine.

1. Snowdonia

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Wales


The mountains of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales are one of the most popular places to visit in Wales. Few of Snowdonia’s peaks top 900 meters (3,000 feet), but their steeply wooded slopes lend them a heightened sense of drama. They also provide a stunning backdrop to the park’s estuaries, lakes, rivers, slate mines and villages. Hiking is a popular activity in Snowdonia, and there are Neolithic burial cairns and Roman ruins to explore in the park too. A cog railway takes visitors to the top of Snowdon, the park’s namesake and highest peak.


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