Castles Of Wales
Cadw is the historic environment agency within the Welsh Assembly Government with responsibility for protecting, conserving and promoting an appreciation of the historic environment of Wales. This includes historic buildings, ancient monuments, historic parks and gardens, landscapes and underwater archaeology. Cadw is the Welsh word meaning 'to keep' or 'to protect'. Visit www.cadw.wales.gov.uk for property details, including Travel Trade information for group bookings, explorer passes and inspirational ideas for your itineraries. You can also search for events from Poets and Princes and Roman Cookery to a Spooky Tour.
Famous Castles under the care of Cadw
A castle of fairy tale proportions, Castell Coch (Red Castle) was built in the 19th Century to be the epitome of romantic medieval legend. Inside Castell Coch is a rich feast of decoration, detail and allusion. The Banqueting Room and Drawing Room are fabulously ornate with decorations from the Fates, Zodiac and Ages of Man, while the Lady Bute’s Bedroom is truly fit for a medieval Queen.
Caernarfon Castle is one of the most impressive of all the castles built by Edward I and is one of Europe's great medieval fortresses. Set on a peninsula bounded by the Menai Strait and at the heart of North Wales, Caernarfon became the English administrative centre.
Caerphilly Castle in South Wales is one of the largest castles in the United Kingdom. It was built by Gilbert de Clare between the years 1268 and 1271. By 1267 Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native prince of Wales, had become lord of the greater part of Wales. He posed a threat to de Clare, the Anglo Norman lord of Glamorgan and the castle was built in response to this threat.
Conwy Castle was designed for King Edward I by Master James of St George and was built between 1283 and 1289. James of St. George was a master mason summoned from mainland Europe to implement Edward's plans. He was born around 1230 and worked on a number of great European castles before starting on his massive undertaking for Edward.
Raglan Castle, South Wales, was one of the last true castles ever to have been built in England and Wales. The castle site is still dominated by the ruins of the Great Tower.
Built between 1283 and 1289, Harlech Castle is designed on a concentric plan with a small but powerful inner ward dominated by an impressive twin-towered gatehouse and four round corner towers. Seized by Owain Glyndŵr in 1404 and held successfully by him for four years.
Other Castles in Wales, which are ‘must visits ’
Cardiff Castle is one of Wales's leading tourist attractions. Situated in the very heart of the capital, alongside city centre shopping and the magnificent Bute Park, the Castle's enchanting fairytale towers conceal an elaborate and splendid interior. Contained within its mighty walls is a history spanning nearly 2,000 years, dating from the coming of the Romans in the first century AD. After the Norman Conquest, the Castle's Keep was built and a number of medieval fortifications and dwellings followed.
Caldicot Castle is set in fifty-five acres of beautiful Country Park. The park offers an ideal setting for picnics and walks against the magnificent backdrop of the medieval castle walls, with picnic tables and barbecue hearths on site.
Penrhyn Castle is a 19th-century fantasy castle with spectacular contents and grounds. It has magnificent views over Snowdonia, unique furniture collection and the best private art collection, in context, in Wales. The castle also has large gardens and grounds with formal Victorian walled garden, dolls museum, extensive Victorian kitchens, and a railway museum and adventure playground.
Powis Castle & Gardens
Powis Castle was built by Welsh princes and is now home to the Earls of Powis. It has a famous garden with Italianate terraces. It also displays one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales.
Picton Castle is a 13th century stone hall-keep, founded by Sir John Wogan. The rectangular hall-keep, is flanked on the angles by drum towers and defending the entrance, is a twin-towered gatehouse. The castle still retains its medieval features in the undercroft but the principal rooms were remodelled in the 1750s by Sir John Philipps, the sixth Baronet.
The best castle for....
- a good night’s sleep
Fancy staying in a castle? Castell Deudraeth (pronounced 'Die drath') is a Victorian extravagance that’s a bit Gothic, a bit Tudor and very imposing. It opened as a hotel in 2001 and has 11 contemporary-styled rooms.
- a fight
Beaumaris Castle looks quiet and picturesque, but don’t be fooled because it is (or was in the late 13th Century) castle technology at its most deadly. It has some wicked touches, like the murder holes through which defenders could drop boiling oil onto anyone they didn’t like. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
- a fright
Strange things happen at Bodelwyddan Castle. Recent sightings include an apparition in one gallery, a ghostly soldier in another and shadowy figures drifting down the corridors. Even the tea room has a ghost.
- the family
One of Britain’s largest medieval fortresses, Caerphilly Castle has a big events programme to match. The annual Big Cheese Festival is a favourite - a free weekend of entertainment for all the family that’s staged in the castle grounds. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
- a story
Forget Dan Brown, the Holy Grail is in Wales. Possibly. Ruined Castell Dinas Bran (or Crow Castle) stands on the site of a 2,600-year-old hill-fort. No surprise then that the location is at the heart of many legends, including one that says the grail is in a cave below the castle. www.castlewales.com
- a banquet
Experience a feast and Welsh entertainemnt in the 15th century undercroft or the Interpretation centre at Cardiff Castle
- learning something new
Head along to Cardiff Castle for serious time travelling at its medieval Mêlée re-enactment. Attractions include archery coaching and a sword school. Cadw also do lots of re-enactments at many of their castles throught the year.
- your dog
Oxwich Castle stands on a wooded headland above the beautiful Gower Peninsula. You’ll love the view and the dog will thank you for a walk on Oxwich Bay’s two-and-half mile beach, which is backed by dunes, salt marshes and woodland. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
- For romance
In his day the third Marquess of Bute was the richest man in the world, so he could afford to indulge himself. One result is Castell Coch. A late 19th Century fancy built on the remains of a 13th Century castle, it is one of Wales’s most romantic and unexpected places. Don’t miss Lady Bute’s Bedroom, it’s painted double dome features 28 frolicking monkeys (rather risqué at the time). www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
- For the view
You can’t miss Carreg Cennen Castle - it sits on a limestone crag 300ft (91m) above the little River Cennen, so be prepared for a climb. It’s well worth the effort. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk