When planning a trip to Wales, unless staying in one of the busy city areas, chances are that you are looking to get out and experience some of the local natural beauty spots and take in some of Wales’ most breathtaking views.
Whilst Wales has no shortage of rolling hills and vast open spaces, it also has something a little extra in many of its countryside areas – castles and ruins, some dating back as far as the 11th century. These buildings are incredibly interesting and are a must-do if you are in an area where you have the chance to walk around a Welsh castle.
Here are just ten of the most beautiful castles in Wales, all well worth a visit!
Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey
Beaumaris Castle is a grand and imposing fortress, which has stood tall since it was commissioned by Edward I in around 1285 – and yet, it remains unfinished to this day.
It’s thought that building work on the castle ended in around 1320, due to a lack of funding and the simmering tensions within Scotland during the First Wars of Independence. Nevertheless, the existing parts of the building have been well-maintained and are open to visitors who would like to explore the castle and perhaps wonder what this wonderful castle could have been.
Conwy Castle, Conwy
This incredible castle was another project commissioned by Edward I, and was astoundingly completed in just four years!
Home to the most well-preserved medieval royal apartments in the country, guests delight in the opportunity to climb the grand staircases within the ground and look over the battlements, also treated to breath-taking views across the town and even as far as Snowdonia.
Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd
Situated right on the bank of the River Seiont, Caernarfon Castle is a truly astounding feat of medieval architecture.
This castle was built across 47 years and at a cost of £25,000 and was specially designed to withstand dramatic enemy attacks, which is perhaps why it stands so tall and well-maintained to this day, giving guests the opportunity to explore medieval Welsh architecture at its very best. There’s also no better place to marvel at the wonderful views of the surrounding areas from the upper section of this incredible building.
Criccieth Castle, Gwynedd
Sitting proudly on the headland between two Gwynedd beaches since its completion in 1230, Criccieth Castle offers guests a breathtaking view of both the local area and the coastline surrounding it.
While Criccieth isn’t quite an intact as other castles on this list, having been seized during the invasion of Edward I, this is still a must-see if you are able to pay the castle a visit. These ruins tell a story of their very own, and one which completely contrasts the story of the castles built by Edward I after he took control of the country.
Raglan Castle, Monmouthsire
Situated just North of the historic village of Raglan, Raglan Castle is perhaps one of Wales’ most impressive historic landmarks.
This grand castle dates back to around the 15th century and, despite falling to ruin following attacks hundreds of years ago, still delights visitors to this day. It’s most certainly worth taking a trip to Raglan Castle to enjoy what’s left of it and to take the time to imagine the events and battles that the castle witnessed during it’s Tudor heydey.
Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly
Built by Gilbert de Claire in the 13th century, Caerphilly Castle was second only to Windsor Castle as the largest in Britain and was used as a fortress for many years, before being transformed into a palatial home and hunting ground. After being given to Hugh Despenser, ruthless friend of Edward II, the great hall was refurbished to be grand and ornate, remaining in excellent condition to this day.
Harlech Castle, Harlech
Another imposing fortress built by Edward I, Harlech Castle sits against the stunning backdrop of the peaks of Snowdonia. Harlech is considered to be one of the finest examples of castles built for military defence, thanks to its carefully designed ‘walls within walls’ structure and location, built on a vast rock structure close to the Irish Sea.
If you are looking for a castle which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty, Harlech Castle is not to be missed.
Chepstow Castle, Monmouthshire
Thought to be the oldest castle in Wales, dating back to around the 11th century, Chepstow Castle was built by Earl William Fitz Osbern to work as a Norman stronghold, eventually being passed on to Earl of Pembroke, Earl of Norfolk and Earl of Worcester.
The castle began to fall into decline after the 17th-century civil war but is still in good enough condition to be enjoyed by thousands of delighted guests to this day.
Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire
With construction thought to have started around 1093, Pembroke Castle holds almost a thousand years of history within its grand and imposing walls.
The castle was the home of William Marshal, the Earl of Pembroke, after being given to him by Richard I. Marshal rebuilt much of the castle in stone during his ownership, creating most of the structure that can be seen by visitors to this day. The castle underwent great restoration work within the 20th century, allowing it to remain a popular tourist spot.
Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire
Carew Castle was built in 1270 and remains under the ownership of the Carew family to this very day, leased to Pembrokeshire National Park to allow guests to visit the grounds and admire this incredible building first-hand.
Carew Castle has a rich history of military use, but the grounds have also housed a mill since around the early 1540s, which stands to this day with much of the machinery used throughout the 18th and 19th century still in place.
This is certainly a castle where guests can ‘make a day of it’, exploring the castle, grounds and mill, as well as enjoying the on-site cafe and gift shops during their visit.
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