If you love history and castles, visiting Wales should be on the top of your bucket list. The country is more than just home to HRH Prince William, it’s also home to 641 castles; helping place the United Kingdom in the number one spot when it comes to number of castles per country.
Not a budget trip, you might want to splurge and pop out that credit card to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Here are the best that Wales has to offer:
1. Caernarfon Castle
Built in the 13th century, Caernarfon is regarded as the best of many castles belonging to Edward I. Started in 1283, the castle was a military stronghold, royal palace and the seat of the government all under one roof. The design was meant to give allies and enemies alike a feeling of the walls of Constantinople. Over 700 years later, the castle still remains as strong as the day it was built.
Situated at the mouth of the Seiont River, the castles boasts impressive polygonal towers, color banded masonry work and battlements that are meant to intimidate. The first Prince of Wales was born in the castle, virtually guaranteeing its place in Welsh history.
2. Conwy Castle
Another fantastic castle brought to life by Edward I, this fortress can still give visitors a true sense of what medieval Wales must have looked like. The commanding architectural masterpiece is perched upon a rock just above the Conwy Estuary. The stronghold had no need for walls inside of its walls; its strength was found in its curtain walls and round towers.
Be sure to head up the battlements to truly appreciate the ring of town walls. At almost a mile long, and guarded by 22 towers, it is one of the most impressive sites in the world.
3. Beaumaris Castle
Found on the Island of Anglesey, this unfinished castle is the last of Edward I’s “iron ring.” Thanks to a lack of funds and supplies, the castle never reached its intended size. Don’t let that fact detract you from visiting, however, as Beaumaris is still considered one of the best in Wales.
Unlike Conwy, this castle was built with walls within walls, having four lines of fortifications. Considered advanced for its time, the architecture is as impressive today as it was then. Surrounded by the sea and mountains, it provides a truly stunning view.
4. Raglan Castle
Though this was not a castle built for royalty, it very well could have been, having survived numerous attempts to destroy it during the English Civil War. It’s six-sided Great Tower, unique for its time, served to protect the fortress – making it one of the last battlements to be forced to surrender.
Home to aristocrats for hundreds of years, the castle is beautifully set among the rolling hills of the countryside. The damaged Great Tower only lends to its visual appeal; be sure to bring a camera!
5. Carew Castle
Built in the Tudor style, Carew sits on the banks of a 23-acre millpond surrounded by trees, with sloping hills in the distance. Part of the fun in visiting this castle is in looking for the many additions that have been built onto its body. Those familiar with architectural history, or even masonry, may be able to quickly pick out the additions – while the average guest can have fun figuring out where the original masonry ends and the new begins.
Interestingly, parts of this castle were destroyed in the English Civil War. Not by enemies, but to make sure that the enemy couldn’t use the castle. Quite a twist!
Wales is a lovely country to visit, no matter the reason, but everyone should undertake a tour of its amazing castles. From small strongholds to immense fortresses, the variety of castles in this beautiful country ensures that no two will look the same.