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Exploring Wales’ most famous castles

If there is one thing that Wales certainly isn’t short of, it’s castles. The country boasts a whopping four hundred castles, giving you plenty of places to explore on your trip. The four hundred Welsh castles actually fall into just three categories: castles built by the Normans, castles built by the Welsh and castles built by Edward I. You will find some of Wales’ best castles built on dramatic countryside landscapes, making use of craggy outcrops and steep drop hills as natural defences. Wondering which ones to explore on your holiday? Read on…

Ewloe Castle
Ewloe Castle is a typically Welsh castle, set within beautiful and peaceful woodland. It is known for it’s distinctive D-shaped tower. The castle was built by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, a Prince who experienced a brief triumph over the Anglo-Norman Marcher Lords following the conquest of part of Wales in the 13th Century. It was one of the last castles built by the Prince before Edward I invaded Wales.

Denbigh Castle
If you are interested in the history of Wales, then Denbigh Castle is a must-visit. The fortress was one of the largest castles in Wales, built as part of Edward I’s campaigns against the Welsh. It was constructed by one of the King’s chief commanders, Henry de Lacy, however it was not the first building in that location. The castle was built over the strong hold of Welsh leader Dafydd ap Gruffudd and removed all traces of the original architecture. Not only did Edward I build a castle on the hilltop, but he also built town walls to separate the area off as an English borough.

Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle was built for Edward I and is among the finest surviving medieval fortifications in Britain today. It is thought that Edward spend around £15,000 on building the castle, which is the largest amount of money he spent on any of his Welsh castles in such a short time. But with high towers and curtain walls, coupled with the fact that the building is still standing strong today, we would say that it was definitely money well spent.

Conwy Castle is a large medieval fortification, on the coastline of North Wales, founded in the late 13th century. It overlooks the River Conwy estuary

Conwy Castle is a large medieval fortification, on the coastline of North Wales, founded in the late 13th century. It overlooks the River Conwy estuary

If you thought the outside of the castle was striking, just wait until you see inside. You will be amazed at the picture the architecture paints in your mind. The great hall, chambers, kitchen and royal chapel make it easy to imagine a time when this castle was used by the royal and his entourage.

Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon Castle is another of King Edward I’s creations and arguable one of the most impressive. Unlike other castles, Caernarfon does not have round towers, but polygonal towers instead. The most impressive of the tower is the Eagle Tower, which has colour-coded stones that have been carefully arranged into bands. The fortification now holds the proud title of World Heritage Site and is a fantastic place to visit on your tour of Wales’ finest castles.

Caernarfon Castle illuminated at dusk, standing at the mouth of the Seiont River at the Southern end of the Menai Strait

Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle is one of the true wonders of Wales. It is a medieval castle, situated on the banks of the river estuary and was the birthplace of Henry VII. Over the years it has experienced various restoration work, particularly over the last decade where much effort has gone into bringing it to life. The castle now boasts an exhibition room where visitors can learn about the fascinating history of the castle. There is also a café where you can enjoy light refreshments and a gift shop where you can pick up a souvenir or two!

So there we have our recommendations for a Welsh castle tour. For more information about Welsh castles and to find out how you can organise a bespoke tour, please visit this page.

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