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Is Wales the castle capital of the world?

September 2014

This is a little known fact; Wales has more castles than any other country in Europe! Wales’ history has left a landscape scattered with Iron Age hill forts, Roman ruins and castles from Medieval Welsh Princes and English Kings.

With over 500 castles, wherever you go on holiday in Wales, you won’t be too far from a historic castle. If you don’t have time to visit every single one, here are five interesting castles to visit.

Conwy Castle at Night, North Wales by Fred Selby

Conwy Castle and town walls are amongst the finest surviving medieval fortifications to be seen anywhere in Britain. No wonder, they are a World Heritage site. It’s hard to believe that they were built at breakneck speed in four short building seasons between 1283 and 1287. Climb the towers and turrets and follow the Time Detectives Trail to find out how the Welsh captured the castle in the 15th century.

Denbigh Castle, North Wales Borderlands by vanessajayne

Denbigh Castle’s triple-towered great gatehouse is the gatehouse to end all gatehouses. Despite the best efforts of parliamentarian troops to bring down the walls in 1660 after the Civil War, there’s still a lot to see. Explore the mysterious sally port where people could creep in and out of the castle without being spotted, spot the difference between the round towers and polygonal towers built in two separate phases around 1282 and 1295, and drop into the new visitor centre for a break.

Raglan Castle Gatehouse, Vale of Usk

Raglan Castle was one of the last medieval castles to be built in England and Wales — still formidable, although designed with comfort and luxury in mind. Climb the Great Tower on its moated island and explore the newly restored undercroft beneath the castle. This cellar housed some of the finest wines in Europe, served at the high table to impress guests. In keeping with Raglan’s reputation for entertainment, the castle regularly plays host to poetry, plays, singing and dancing.

Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire

Kidwelly is everything a castle should be — steep earthworks, high towers, tall walls and a great gatehouse that took at least a century to complete. Peel back the centuries to the earliest earth-and-timber castle built by the Normans. You can trace its half- moon shape by walking along the stonewalls built almost 100 years later. Don’t leave without exploring the great gatehouse or the beautiful little chapel overlooking the river. Plus check out Sculpture Cymru’s exhibition, on until September.

Caerphilly Castle, South Wales Valleys

This is a big castle, the biggest in Wales. It’s almost complete and it’s surrounded by a series of moats and watery islands. Climb to the rooftop of the massive east gatehouse. From here you can see the rings of stone and water defences that made Caerphilly so strong. Explore the dark passage known as the Braose Gallery and look out for the south- east tower — which out leans Pisa’s famous tower. And don’t forget the mighty siege engines and special firing events.

All images are credited to © Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales

 

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