North Wales has a rich heritage of history; from its highland steam railways to its abandoned Victorian mines. But one of our favourite areas of history are Wales’ legendary castles.
There are over 600 castles in Wales, with over 100 still standing as ruins or restored buildings.
Most of the best examples of Welsh castle construction lie in the northern area of Wales, so we have compiled a list of our favourite ‘must visit’ attractions.
Situated between two pebbly beaches, Criccieth Castle dominates the landscape sitting atop a rocky promontory which overlooks Tremadog Bay.
The 13th century castle was originally built by Llywelyn the Great, who used English designs to model the legendary gatehouse.
On a clear winters day, it is easy to see why the Welsh chose this location to build their castle.
From the hilltop, you are able to see as far as Snowdonia to the north, the entire Lleyn Peninsula to the west, and even Harlech Castle to the southeast.
The castle also houses interactive displays and hands-on activities to keep your children entertained!
Harlech Castle was constructed atop a spur of rocks close to the Irish sea, it was built by the English monarch Edward I during his invasion of wales between 1282 and 1289.
The castle cost a whopping £8,190, which in today’s money is estimated at around £8.5 million!
Today, the castle still dominates the landscape. Inside, it offers a sense of harmony, due to the way in which the castle constructors exploited the sites natural advantages.
Bere Castle (Ruins)
Another of Llywelyn the Great’s constructions; Bere Castle was built in the early 13th century.
The castle was intended to maintain authority over the locals and to defend the south-west part of the princedom of Gwynedd. Edward I lay siege to the castle in 1283, before it was eventually surrendered.
This was the last castle to fall during Edward I’s incursion into Wales to stop the Welsh rebellion.
Whilst the castle has been reduced to ruins, the surrounding area offers breath-taking views of the welsh countryside in which the remaining parts of the castle feel right at home!
Caernarfon Castle is possibly the most famous castle in the whole of wales, its commanding presence and detailed intricacy sets it apart from all the rest.
Built by Edward I; construction began in 1283 as the definitive chapter in his conquest of Wales.
Caernarfon was constructed for multiple uses; as well as being a military stronghold, it was a seat of government and a royal palace.
The castle features a range of exhibitions, which are well worth visiting next time you come to North Wales.
Accommodation in North Wales
If you’ve been inspired to visit one or more of these great castles, then why not make a weekend of it? The town of Porthmadog is a great place to stay, offering great access to the rest of North Wales.
For more information, please visit our accommodation page.