My Favorite Castles in Wales
The Beautiful Castles in Wales
This will be a developing exploration of the Castles of Wales as we visit them over the coming months and indeed years.
From the more well known such as Caernarvon (scene of the Investiture of our Current Prince of Wales) and Harlech (which inspired the "Men of Harlech" song) to the less well known and hidden.
Do enjoy the short commentaries and photographs of each castle as they are added and we hope that you will be inspired to visit the Castles of Wales and perhaps to Holiday in Wales.
The Gatehouse of Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle Explored
Visiting Castle Harlech
Harlech Castle appears to sit like an all seeing sentinel, as it looks out across the surrounding land to the sea. Even today many centuries after it was built it still keeps a watchful eye over Snowdonia.
The English monarch Edward I built Harlech in the late 13th century to keep watch over the area. It was perhaps one of the most formidable of his 'iron ring' of fortresses which were designed to contain the Welsh, whom he wanted to subdue, in their mountain fastness.
It's a little ironic that in 1404 it was taken by the leader of the Welsh Owain Glyn Dwr who there is evidence to show then proceeded to summon and hold a parliament there. The uplifting song which will be familiar to many Rugby Fans, "Men of Harlech, was inspired here during a long siege which took place during the Wars of the Roses.
We visited on a gloriously sunny day when the castle stood out against a blue sky. One word of caution if you decide to park at the rear of the castle be prepared for quite a climb! It's 108 steps from the ground to then reach the castle although the views it affords are maginifcent.
One other word of advice! Harlech along with many other great attractions draws school parties. On the day we visited a party of particularily foul mouthed youngsters in their early teens seemed to elude the control of the two teachers who were with them.
However, don't let that put you off! The castle is a fascinating part of the history of this part of Wales as wel as being World Heritage Inscribed site and well worth a visit.
Inside Castle Harlech
View from The Eagle Tower of Caernarvon Castle
Caernarvon Castle Explored
Visiting Caernarvon Castle
Caernarvon or as it is spelt by the Welsh Caernarfon is a Castle which dominates the town and is better known now than it was for many centuries as we shall see shortly.
The castle of Edward I at Caernarvon was built on the site of what had been a Roman fort and then a Norman Motte and Bailey Castle. This attests to it desirable and prominent position in this part of North Wales. It was another in Edward's Iron Ring of Fortresses and shows many influences from Edward's Foreign expedition and echoes back to the forts of the Romans in so many ways. Caernarvon is architecturally one of the most impressive of all of the castles in Wales. It's defensive capabilities were not as obvious or indeed as powerful as those of Edward I's other castles such as Harlech and Beaumaris. However, Caernarvon was intended as a seat of power and as a symbol of the English dominance over the subdued Welsh.
The site's previous history also clearly demonstrates the strategic importance of the site.
As the centre for a new seat of government, Caernarvon was marked out for a special role and Edward I ensured that his first born son was born within the Castle walls. Edward of Caernarvon, was born in 1284 and became the first English Prince of Wales.
The castle has a fascinating history although it never quite reached the exalted position that had clearly been intended for it. It was often the victim of neglect and it was only after centuries of neglect and indeed abuse that things started to change so that we see so much of it today. The centuries of neglect were halted by repairs undertaken in the late 19th century and, in 1911, it was the scene of the Investiture of Prince Edward (later Edward VIII) as Prince of Wales. The current Prince of Wales was also invested there when he came of age and so Caernarvon was reborn and became as popular as it is today. It is indeed well worth a visit!