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Welsh Castles: Five Famous Welsh Castles To Visit When In Wales

Updated on January 27, 2014

Caerphilly Castle Wales

Caerphilly Castle is an impressive 13th century fortress north of Cardiff.
Caerphilly Castle is an impressive 13th century fortress north of Cardiff. | Source

Welsh Language Tips

Bore da (bora-da) good morning

Shw’mae (shoo-my) hello

Peint o gwrw (paint-o-guru) pint of beer

Diolch (diolkh) thank you

Da boch (da bokh) goodbye

Caerphilly Castle Wales

Wales lies in the western territory of the United Kingdom comprising a population of three million, of whom approximately one fifth speak Welsh. Wales has an unsurpassed legacy of magnificent medieval welsh castles and is a must see for those who admire great buildings.

If you are planning a visit, many signs are bilingual and the use of the language if only to say hello and thank you is much appreciated.

1. Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle is located in the town of the same name and is reachable from a train station stop seven miles north of Cardiff.

The site is open daily, March to June, September and October 9:30-5:00pm, July and August 9:30-6:00pm, November to February 10:00-4:00pm, Sunday 11:00-4:00pm.

Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales and the second largest in Britain after Windsor Castle. This impressive 13th century stone concentric fortress was built by the 7th Earl of Gloucester Gilbert de Clare. The castle construction upon a large central island to take advantage of extensive water defences offered by lakes to the north and south, includes a fortified screen wall to the east forming a barbican and a ward with a stone revetment to the west. Higher inner walls provide look out points from huge circular towers and a massive keep-gatehouse. The lower walls are flanked by open bastions and two twin-turreted gateways. The castle is a supreme example of military fortifications with its owner eventually dying in battle in the Holy Lands after taking up the cross of battle in the Crusades.

Caerphilly Castle recently featured in the BBC series Merlin.

Kidwelly Castle Wales

Construction began in 1115 AD and medieval additions included the crusade-style round outer defense wall.
Construction began in 1115 AD and medieval additions included the crusade-style round outer defense wall. | Source

Kidwelly Castle Wales

Kidwelly Castle is located north of Llanelli.

The site is open daily March 9.30 – 5pm, July - August 9.30 - 6pm, September - October 9.30 – 5pm, November - 10 - 4pm, 11 – 4pm Sundays. Castle is closed during Christmas.

In 1106 Roger, Bishop of Salisbury was the Justiciar of England and built Kidwelly Castle to defend the road to west Wales. The half moon shape defends one side of the river and is in the 12th Century Norman style. The castle has many additions, including a rectangular stronghold with round towers, a chapel, a kitchen and a garrison with a large South Gatehouse.

There is a portcullis and drawbridge around a moat and you can visit dungeon pits and get a real sense of how well defended this castle was, and how the position of the castle aided in defending the road.

Harlech Castle Wales

Source
Harlech Castle when constructed in the 13th century used to be surrounded by water.
Harlech Castle when constructed in the 13th century used to be surrounded by water. | Source

Harlech Castle Wales

Harlech Castle is open 1 April - 30 June 2012 and Daily 9.30am - 5.00pm

Visit: http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/harlechcastle/?lang=en for more information.

Harlech Castle is situated south of Porthmadog and forms part of an iron ring of defence along the coastal region of Snowdonia. Built by Master James of St George, who many regard as a military architectural genius, this concentric castle takes advantage of the high position of its natural surroundings to defend its inhabitants from land and sea approaches.

The unofficial Welsh national anthem, “Men of Harlech”, refers to the longest siege in British history (1461 to 1468) where King Edward’s forces defended it during the War of the Roses. The castle considered impregnable from every side, faced a huge cliff drop, and was supplied by a 200-foot (61m) long stairway which still leads from the castle to the cliff base. This was the secret weapon, as supplies were brought in from the sea and they suppliers could sail right up to the castle moat. Nowadays the sea has receded, giving the impression the castle is surrounded by land. You have to use your imagination to envisage how great the castle was from the time it was built in the 13th century.

Caenarfon Castle Wales

Caernarfon Castle where the Prince of Wales receives his investiture.
Caernarfon Castle where the Prince of Wales receives his investiture. | Source

Caenarfon Castle Wales

Caernarfon Castle is open 1st April to 30th June - 9.30 – 5pm daily; 1st July - 31st August - 9.30 – 6pm daily; 1st September - 31st October - 9.30 – 5pm daily; 1st November to 29th February 10am – 4pm Monday to Saturday – 11am – 4pm Sunday; 1st March - 31st March - 9.30 – 5pm daily

Closed: 24th, 25th, 26th December, 1st January

King Edward I also ordered the construction of Caernarfon Castle, situated in the north-west of Wales. Inside the castle, King Edward’s son was born in 1284 and was later crowned the first English Prince of Wales. Ever since then the investiture of the Prince of Wales has occurred at Caernarfon with the most recent being in 1969 for Prince Charles.

The castle has the Constantinople concentric influence from King Edward’s I experience with Roman legends, including a famous dream story where a King wanted a castle built in a beautiful place. King Edward’s scouts chose Caefnarfon . Designed as a military castle it is considered very well defend with walls 20 feet thick at the base and eight towers plus two twin-tower gates and water-filled moats.

Fortifications include, portcullises, drawbridges, interior spy-holes, arrow loops and ‘murder holes’ . Caenarfon is impressively restored and receives over 200 million visitors each year. A beautiful castle to see for sure.

Visit the Queen’s Tower, to see the exhibition of the Museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Included in the normal entry price of £5.30 you can see uniforms, guns, medals and memorabilia from the 300-year heritage of this proud and important Welsh regiment.

Conwy Castle Wales

Conwy Castle is open 1st April to 30th June - 9.30 – 5pm daily; 1st July - 31st August - 9.30 – 6pm daily; 1st September - 31st October - 9.30 – 5pm daily; 1st November to 29th February 10am – 4pm Monday to Saturday – 11am – 4pm Sunday; 1st March - 31st March - 9.30 – 5pm daily

Closed: 24th, 25th, 26th December, 1st January

Conwy Castle has no concentric 'walls within walls' here, because they were not needed. The town itself is walled and has over three quarters of a mile surroundings guarded by twenty two towers. The castle appear to grow naturally out of a rock, with enormous curtain walls and eight round towers providing an awesome presence that towers over the town.

Gorgeous views take in the mountains of Snowdonia, the sea and the town walls. Feel free to take a little tour around with Rick Steves and his Welsh guide in the video above for Conwy Castle.

Comments

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  • TAHITITI profile image

    Carla Jones 2 years ago from Spring Hill, Florida

    Thank you for your comment, Andrew! Wales has more castles per square area than the rest of the British Isles, almost making it seem that there is one every time you turn around!

  • Andrew Bing profile image

    Dragos 3 years ago from Romania

    I don't know much about Wales but it looks like it has a very impressive selection of castles. Caenarfon Castle looks particularly formidable.

  • knowhowadventure profile image

    knowhowadventure 3 years ago

    I've only been to Caerphilly Castle when i was in wales, next time i'll have to check out some of the smaller ones

  • TAHITITI profile image

    Carla Jones 3 years ago from Spring Hill, Florida

    Great finds, Eliza Doole!

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 3 years ago from London

    I've just been to Caerphilly Castle again and I'm reminded of how lovely Wales is ... all over!

  • TravelinJack profile image

    Jack Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

    Oh I miss the welsh castles so much!! I just finished a year in Cardiff, so I was up in Caerphilly quite often! But nothing compares to the Caenarfon and Conwy castles! Great Hub.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    I confess I am quite envious of the incredible history and legacy you have in your country! Everything in the USA looks so new or untried compared to the rich heritage there. This is an amazing and informative hub - thank you!

  • Mmargie1966 profile image

    Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

    What a fun and informative hub, ElizaDoole! I love history, and can just imagine living in Wales during those times. One day, I'd love to see these castles!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • robie2 profile image

    Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

    This makes me really want to visit Wales-- these castles are just amazing and I can hear a Welsh mens chorus singing in my head as I read your descriptions. Wonderful photos too. Thanks for a marvelous armchair voyage. voting up and awesome

  • profile image

    mikeydcarroll67 5 years ago

    The castles are amazing! I love them!

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    Thanks hush and vespa and mike for your comments. Wales is truly teeming with history and these World Heritage Castles are well worth a visit. The entrance price averages £5 for adults which is very reasonable. They are all situated in towns too so you can have a nice meal and drinks afterwards.

  • charmike4 profile image

    Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

    Thanks for sharing Eliza. I went to Wales once in the 90s and saw 3 really great castles (most were within an hour or so of Bristol). My wife's family now live in Ludlow so this will be a fantastic resource for our next visit to England and now, Wales.

    The only issue that I had last time was that a lot of the signs were in Welsh which I found too hard to read as I drove down the motorways. With GPS now I hope it will be easier! Cheers Michael

  • vespawoolf profile image

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    I love castles and this is a beautiful hub (a future HOTD in my humble opinion)! We haven't been to Wales yet, but will keep these castles in mind for future reference. Thank you for sharing!

  • hush4444 profile image

    hush4444 5 years ago from Hawaii

    I had no idea that Wales had so many incredible castles. This is a fantastic hub for anyone who is planning on visiting the U.K., which I hope to do again soon. I also appreciated the tip about learning a few Welsh words. Voted up.