10 Must-see castles in Wales
If you’re passionate about historic castles, one of the best places you can visit is Wales. Not only is it stunningly beautiful, but it is said to have more castles per square mile than any other country in all of Europe. History has left a lush landscape dotted with Roman ruins, Iron Age forts and more than 600 castles. Those planning a visit won’t want to miss at least a few of these magnificent centuries-old options.
Exploring Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, Wales
Pembroke Castle (nearby hotels)
Pembroke Castle is the birthplace of Henry VII, the first Tudor king and father of the infamous Henry VIII, known for his six marriages, including one to Anne Boleyn, whom he executed by marrying Jane Seymour just days later. The original castle was built in the late 11th century and rebuilt in stone a century later to become one of the most impressive examples of Norman stone castles. It’s worth just looking around it from the outside, but ideally take the time to see it from the inside, where you’ll get an amazing view of medieval times. Take a stroll along the path that leads to the nearby swan-filled Mill Pond for beautiful views and benches to relax while enjoying the scenery.
Conwy Castle (Nearby Hotels)
Conwy Castle is a medieval fortification on the north coast of Wales, built by Edward I in the 13th century during his conquest of the country. It is still one of the great fortresses of medieval Europe, with eight semi-defensive towers perched on the rocky bank of the River Conwy. It was designed to greet the English approaching by sea, and to repel any angry Welsh who attacked the land. It’s fun to explore, and from here you can also admire one of the best views of the city with its medieval walls, which are considered some of the most impressive in the United Kingdom.
Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Caernarfon Castle (nearby hotels)
The large Caernarfon, one of the most famous attractions in Wales, is considered the best-preserved medieval fortress in Europe. It rises above Caernarfon in the northwest and was built by Edward I after his defeat of the last native Welsh prince in the late 13th century. It occupies the site of an even older Norman castle, dominating the waters of the River Seiont and the Straits of Menai on one side, protected by a moat on the other. Some may recall that this is where Prince Charles was appointed Prince of Wales in 1969. While you’re here, be sure to visit the Royal Welch Rifles Museum, located in the castle’s two towers.
Margam Castle, Neath Port Talbot
Margam Castle (Nearby Hotels)
Built between 1830 and 1840, this huge Tudor Gothic mansion was designed for Christopher Rice Mansell Talbot, who sought to create an impressive residence that would complement Margam’s rich history by making a statement that would emphasize the rank and historical significance of his family. Encouraged to let his imagination run wild, the architect created a Victorian fantasy with turrets, gables, towers and pinnacles, domes and loopholes centered around three courtyards. Today it is popular for events and conferences, while visitors enjoy strolling through the park, enjoying picnics and watching deer. It’s also a favorite among paranormal explorers, including shows like Ghostbusters. Ghost walks are available that show some of its supposed hauntings.
Picton Castle, Haverfordwest, Wales
Picton Castle (Nearby Hotels)
Located in beautiful Pembrokeshire in the southwest, Picton is a medieval castle/fortified manor house built in the 13th century by Sir John Vaughan and acquired by the Phillips in the late 1400s. They owned it until 1987, when the last members of the family turned it over to the National Trust. Some are still on the board today. Visitors can enjoy guided tours from spring to fall and enjoy the stunning gardens, open all year long. There is even a “Secret Owl Garden” on the grounds where you can meet owls from around the world.
An aerial view of medieval Raglan Castle in Wales
Raglan Castle (Nearby Hotels)
Medieval Raglan Castle in southeast Wales dates back to 1430 commissioned by Sir William ap Thomas, the Blue Knight of Gwent. Made of sandstone, it was not built for defensive purposes but to display wealth and powerful influence. Its polygonal structures make it unique among others in Wales, and it also has a moat that surrounds the Yellow Tower of Gwent. From the tower you can admire an almost endless view of the picturesque surroundings.
View of Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff Castle (nearby hotels)
Cardiff Castle was built in the 11th century on the site of an older Roman fort built seven centuries ago. Additions were added over the years, including shell and defensive walls. In the mid-18th century, it was converted into a Georgian-style mansion and then redesigned in the Gothic Revival style with a sumptuous interior decorated with beautiful elements of stained glass, frescoes, marble and fine wood carvings. Centrally located, visitors can tour the most impressive rooms.
Caldicot Castle, Wales
Caldicot Castle (nearby hotels)
The view from Caldicot Castle, a huge stone medieval castle built around 1100 AD, is worth a visit alone, surrounded by 55 acres of picturesque gardens with quiet gardens in southeast Wales. But its history is what legends are made of, from its Norman origins and conflicts in the Middle Ages to serving as a family home in the Victorian era.
Chirk Castle near the Welsh-English border
Chirk Castle (Nearby Hotels)
Chirk Castle sits along the border of England and Wales as one of the most magnificent landmarks in the region. Its luxurious cabins combine exquisite stucco with a medieval tower, dungeon and 18th-century servants’ hall. Visitors can stroll through the garden and enjoy the terrace, pavilion and parkland that surrounds this medieval treasure. Completed in 1310, it was strategically positioned overlooking the entrance to the Ceiriog Valley and today is the only castle from the time of King Edward I that is still inhabited.
Caerphilly Castle, Cardiff, Wales
Caerphilly Castle (Nearby Hotels)
Caerphilly Castle sits on 30 acres near Cardiff and was built as a defensive castle. The largest in Wales and the second largest British castle after Windsor, it was built in the mid-to-late 13th century with a fully flooded moat. Although it was often threatened, it was somehow never taken, the only sign of weakness being its famous Falling Tower, which leans even further than Italy’s famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Castles of Wales
Wales is a modern country with a rich historical heritage. Whichever city a traveler comes to, there is sure to be a castle nearby that reminds one of two thousand years of Welsh history. There are more castles per square mile than in any other European country – Iron Age forts, Roman ruins and the palaces of medieval Welsh princes and English kings. There are more than 600 castles in Wales, dozens of which are superbly preserved, making a visit to them an absolute must for any interested traveler in history.
Carnarvon Castle is huge, impressively restored and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fortress is a vivid testament to the unbridled ambition of Edward I, a project of phenomenal expense and scale, built in a record for the 13th century. five years. Inside the huge octagonal towers are now exhibitions – the Museum of the Royal Welsh Rifles, an interactive history of the castle, and a small exhibition of the throne and coronation paraphernalia. Traditionally, it is at Carnarvon Castle that the coronation ceremony of the princes of Wales takes place.
The largest castle in Wales is Caerphilly. Its area is 1.2 hectares, and the architecture is one of the most complex among the medieval castles of Europe. The artificial lakes and moats that almost entirely surround the castle were used for protection against attacks, and the design of the fortress is unique and unlike any other in Wales. The northwest tower now houses an exhibit on the history of Welsh castles. The attention of most tourists is attracted by the south-east tower, 15 m high, tilted at 10 ° outward. The culprit is either damage during the war or the collapse of a few stones from damp.
Cardiff Castle is probably the most famous castle in Wales. Its history goes back to Roman times, but despite its venerable age, the fortress looks great, and of course, this attracts visitors here. In addition, there is a beautifully organized tour of the castle. Tourists can watch a video about its history, take audio guides and walk through the exhibitions: a bomb shelter of World War II, a tour of the Clock Tower with a stunning interior, the military museum “Line of Fire. In and around the castle, there are constantly some kind of events – banquets, reenactments, knightly tournaments. When you arrive in Wales, the first place worth visiting is Cardiff Castle.
Conwy Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered the finest example of late 13th-century military architecture in Europe. The dark, gloomy walls of the castle can be seen from afar, it fascinates and draws you in. There are no exhibitions here, the authenticity of the castle itself is enough. Travelers are enticed by the high crenellated walls with a panoramic view. Looking from here at the valleys of Wales, it becomes clear why the British built this hulk – to make the Welsh understand who is the master here.
Pembroke Castle, dating from the 13th century, is a favourite with film-makers. It’s known outside Wales for Prince Caspian, Richard II, Me Before You and more. Five centuries ago the first of the Tudors, King Henry VII, was born here, and today tourists stroll from tower to tower through the walls and corridors, looking at colorful exhibitions detailing the castle’s history. The oldest part of the complex is the ominous, overhanging fortress from 1204. Next to it is the Dungeon Tower, where you can peek into a dark prison cell. Passing through the North Hall, one arrives at the eerie Vaughan Cave of natural origin.
Atop a limestone cliff overhanging the River Wye stands Chepstow Castle, guarding its passage from England to South Wales. It is one of the oldest castles in Britain (1067). Here you can also see the oldest wooden door in Europe – a massive wooden barrier from 1190, used in the main gate until 1962. Under the castle there is a cave in the rock, and the legend says that it is there where King Arthur and his knights are napping until the day when they are needed to save Britain.
The most deceptive.
Beaumaris Castle on Anglesey is the last of the castles built by Edward I in Wales. It was begun in 1295 but was never completed to its design. The appearance of the fortress is very peaceful, it has a pleasing symmetry to the eye and is situated in a picturesque mountainous area. To this day, Bomaris is surrounded by a moat filled with water. But the fairy-tale look is deceptive, and in former times the castle had a bloody glory, evidence of which can still be discerned in it today. Holes in the massive gates were intended to pour boiling oil on invaders, and slits in the walls were for archers to repel unwanted visitors. Bomaris Castle in Wales is a World Heritage Site.
Surrounded by magnificent gardens, Powys Castle in Wales dates back to the 13th century. Built of red brick, it looks spectacular. The extraordinary Baroque Italian gardens, decorated with original lead statues, flowerbeds, and ancient yews, give it special charm. The gardens have greenhouses, natural and wild areas, and terraces. But the most important thing waiting for visitors inside is the unique Clive Museum, full of exquisite treasures brought back from India. There’s armor, gem-encrusted weapons, rich textiles, a golden tiger head inlaid with rubies and diamonds, a Chinese sword with a snakeskin sheath, and ivory chess. The entire interior of the castle is extravagant, covered with paintings and paneled with wood. The rooms have mahogany beds, tiger skins and beautiful paintings.
Tourism in Wales began in the 18th century and is growing by leaps and bounds. Hundreds of travelers from all over the world come here to see the colorful mountains and valleys, visit ancient castles, see ancient monuments and quite modern attractions.
The 7 Wonders of Wales are places of interest to any tourist. They can be called the hidden riches of Wales, which will be found only by those who are not too lazy to get into the wilderness, and will be rewarded with the stunning beauty of nature and the most interesting cultural heritage of the country.
The planned trip to Wales should be approached very carefully. To visit the country you must obtain a visa from a British consulate and embassy. Read below what types of visas there are and what documents are required to obtain a permit.
Wales is rich in history, and tourists usually visit local museums to get acquainted with it. All major Welsh cities have interesting institutions dedicated to archaeological finds, medieval life and wool production.