Wales is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but it still has its own rich history and culture. There are castles all over Wales that date back centuries ago- 400 to be exact! Castles can be found by you if they’re on your radar screen while travelling through this fascinating country. The density (400) of these medieval structures outnumbers any other place with a comparable amount land mass which means there’s something for everyone within these walls; whether you enjoy exploring or learning about Welsh heritage firsthand from those who know best.
The Welsh countryside is dotted with imposing and magnificent castles, many of which were built in the 13th century by victorious English King Edward I following his conquest. With these new fortresses came an overwhelming sense of power over their conquered nation; not only did they protect against invasion from other countries, but also to keep Wales obedient to English rule. Here are 9 beautiful medieval structures that will leave you feeling a little intimidated!
Located along the northern coast of Wales, Conwy Castle dates back to King Edward I. It was built during his conquest and it is an excellent example of medieval defensive architecture with iconic round towers. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but you can also enjoy its beautiful gardens which were restored in 2010 by landscape architect David Childs who took inspiration from historic watercourses that once flowed through the ancient town walls.
The Caernarfon Castle, originally designed by King Edward I in the 13th century stands over 200 feet tall. The views from its towers are breathtaking and have been seen as a vantage point for many centuries of Welsh people to watch their country go about it’s daily life below them on this ancient land that they call home. This castle has played an intricate role not only with Wales but also throughout Europe since medieval times when these kinds of castles were used both offensively against other rulers and defensively as fortresses in case conflict arose within one’s own borders.
Edward I built a series of castles, the last being Harlech Castle. There are many wild Welsh landscapes and this castle is no exception. Edward’s wars changed its fate as it was besieged in 1468 during the Wars of Roses but just three years later at Arrowe Hill (known as “The Battle Of The Red Dragon”) when Owen Tudor killed Henry VI with his battle axe; thus leading to Richard III taking over after winning Yorktown on October 2nd, 1485 against Lancastrian forces led by Margaret Beaufort from her stronghold Pembroke Castle. This lead to intermittent sieges for more than 200 years until Oliver Cromwell took down Charles II following England’s Civil War.
You will find one of the most iconic landmarks in Wales, Cardiff Castle. Originally built as a third-century Roman fort and then rebuilt by Normans in 11th century before being given its 19th Century Gothic design makeover from Bute family who were Lords at that time.
The castle is now open to visitors where you can explore it’s history through impressive collections, beautiful gardens with stunning views or visit what remains of 3rd century Rome including an Amphitheatre and garrison buildings for Legionaries!
Pembroke Castle is famous for being the birthplace of Henry VII in 1457. Originally a Norman fort built in 1093, it was fortified and expanded during 12th century periods. The castle is located near Wogan Cave which has been inhabited since Paleolithic and Mesolithic period with evidence dating back to 2800 BCE.
The earliest known people here were hunter-gatherers who lived off fish from the nearby River Severn’s estuary as well as game hunted on land using tools such stones or those fashioned out of antler found locally at sites like Pibwrlwyd Farm, Stradey Park House and Redhill Woodlands.
Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales, and the second-largest in all of Europe. Constructed from 1268 to 1283 by Norman nobleman Gilbert de Clare for his new Welsh wife Maud Plantagenet, it’s known as one of England’s most well-preserved medieval fortresses with its concentric defences that are unparalleled anywhere else on Earth. Its gatehouses resemble those at Windsor Castle – but taller! And don’t forget about Caerphilly’s trademark artificial lakes which were originally used as a defence against attackers during times when water was scarce or couldn’t be easily sourced elsewhere.
Unlike so many castles in Wales, Penrhyn Castle is a medieval fortified manor house. Built more than 500 years ago, it underwent reconstruction by King Charles II and later Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom as a result of fire damage sustained during World War I. The picturesque castle sits right on Bangor Bay between Snowdonia National Park to the north-west and Menai Strait to its south; you’ll find this spot just over an hour from London or Bristol airports!
Much like Castell Coch, Gwrych Castle is actually a more modern structure that was erected between 1819 and 1825 for Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh. Later it became home to the Earls of Dundonald who used its walls as refuge during World War II when 200 Jewish refugees found shelter inside its halls.
The Roch Castle is a 12th century Norman knight’s defensive structure to protect Flemish settlers from the Welsh. Built atop the Landsker, or “Little England,” it was also used as a royalist stronghold during the English Civil War and now functions as luxury hotel for visitors looking for historical charm in Wales.
There are lots of other castles in Wales, so if we’ve missed any of your favorites, be sure to share them in the comments below.
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