by Isabelle Hannah
History & Heritage
Often referred to as the “castle capital of the world”, there was once approximately 600 castles in Wales.
100 are still standing, either in ruin or restored and North Wales is lucky enough to be home to a number of truly spectacular ones.
Here is our pick of the top 7 castles in North Wales.
An impressive fortress that began construction in 1823 and one of Edward I four great castles of North Wales along with Caernarfon, Harlech and Beaumaris. Standing tall above the River Conwy with Snowdonia acting as a dramatic background, Conwy Castle still commands the same attention and dominance it once did.
With 21 towers and 3 gateways in total, go inside the walls and discover all the history in this World Heritage Site. Make sure you keep an eye out for medieval re-enactments that regularly take place inside the courtyards, perfect family-friendly entertainment.
Located on the Southern end of the Menai Strait, the castle once provided Edward I with a strategic advantage during his invasion of Wales lying in the middle of Anglesey and North Wales. The stunning architecture includes polygonal towers and a variety of coloured masonry.
This popular historical site has two gatehouses, once used for unloading supplies off ships. It’s a fantastic attraction to visit and people of all ages will be impressed by the atmospheric corridors and stairways.
Dolwyddelan Castle is an early 13th century fortress built by Llewelyn the Great. Used to control the road between the mountains and Conwy, the ruins stand on a rocky ridge overlooking the Lledr Valley.
You can easily access the castle with clear signs on the A470 between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Betws-y-Coed. There is also a great walking trail that leads uphill to the remaining ruins.
Built between 1283-1290 by Edward I, Harlech Castle is perched on a rocky clifftop overlooking the sea with the rolling mountains of Snowdonia in the background. The castle has a concentric design, meaning there is an inner and outer wall for extra protection.
The cost to build Harlech Castle amounted to about 10% of Edward’s military budget at a huge £10,000. Today you can climb up the round towers and walk around the walls. There are often exhibitions and demonstrations aimed at entertaining the little ones.
Penrhyn Castle was built in the mid 19th century for English MP George Hay Dawkins Pennant. Famous architect Thomas Hopper chose a neo-Norman design, which was adventurous for the time and involved the community with local craftsmen helping in the build of castle furniture.
The Castle has since come under the care of the National Trust where visitors can go inside and wander around the beautifully kept gardens and grounds.
Beaumaris Castle was the largest of the four great castles and last of Edward I’s castles constructed for his conquest of North Wales. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Castle has an impressive architecture and like Harlech Castle was built with a concentric, symmetrical design.
Often described as a vanity project for Edward I, Beaumaris Castle was left unfinished. This was due to his death and the new monarch’s change of strategy to conquer Scotland instead of continuing the invasion of North Wales.
The Castle was restored and repaired in the 20th century and is now managed by Cadw and draws thousands of visitors a year. You can walk around the walls and take in the beautiful views of the Menai Strait.
Like Dolwyddelan Castle, Dolbadarn was built by Llywelyn the Great on the turn of the 13th century. The ancient tower stands alone, overlooking the Llanberis pass into Snowdonia.
Walk up to the castle whilst taking in the stunning views of the mountains and Llyn Peris. Dogs are also welcome in the ground floor levels of the castle.
Why not turn your adventure into a getaway and stay in one of our North Wales holiday cottages. Relax in your very own home away from home, whilst spending your days exploring all the spectacular castles in North Wales.
Many of the castles in North Wales are cared for by Cadw. Menai have an exciting partnership which offers you 20% off membership. Use the promo code MENAICOTTAGES and find out what other benefits you can get here.
Browse our collection of cottages today that cover Anglesey, Snowdonia, Llyn Peninsula, Conwy and Llandudno or get in touch with one of our travel experts for further information.
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