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North Wales has some of the best castles in the world

Last updated: 13 July 2023

Previously: 6 August 2021

If history and in particular medieval history is an interest then Hafannedd is the perfect base from which to explore and discover what this part of Wales has to offer.

There's plenty of castles and ruins to visit - we can 'thank' the English invasion during Edward 1st's reign for constructing many of the castles we've included here.

Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle was commissioned by Edward 1st and built between 1272 and 1307.  Located on Anglesey, in the town of Beaumaris, the castle’s medieval architecture is magnificent. 

There’s a beautiful moat surrounding the castle - during the castle’s lifetime the moat would have served as a means of providing supplies to the castle’s inhabitants. 

Beaumaris Castle was built on flat marsh land but was never actually completed. If you’re planning a trip to Anglesey, make sure to build Beaumaris Castle into your itinerary. 

More information can be found here: Beaumaris Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Built by Edward 1st during his conquest of Wales, Caernarfon Castle is one of the most impressive castles in the world. The castle was the birthplace of Edward 1st’s son - Edward of Caernarfon - the first English Prince of Wales.

The castle cost around £25,000 to build and took almost 50 years to build. Built on an existing site of a mot and bailey castle constructed in the 11th century, you can see how the design adopts the roman architecture of Constantinople. The Eagle Tower and its 3 turrets are most impressive.

Caernarfon Castle was the venue of the investiture of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales in 1969.

Also within the grounds of the castle is The Welsh Fusiliers Museum.

Read more about the castle: Caernarfon Castle

Chirk Castle

Completed in 1310, during the reign of Edward 1st, Chirk Castle is a medieval fortress and was constructed overlooking where the River Dee and River Ceiriog meet.

There’s plenty to take in on your visit - the castle is the last castle built during this period which is still inhabited. The state rooms and magnificent interiors are open to the public and take time to enjoy the extensive, manicured gardens, stretching over 5.5 acres.

The castle sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest owing to its inhabitants of rare invertebrates, bats, fungi and ancient trees. There’s 480 acres of parkland to explore, incorporating a preserved section of Offa’s Dyke.

More information can be found here: Chirk Castle

Conwy Castle

Another breathtaking example of medieval architecture, Conwy Castle built by Edward 1st between 1283 and 1287.

Conwy Castle was used by Edward in 1294 when fighting to suppress an uprising led by Madog ap Llywelyn. The castle and its town walls provide a brilliant backdrop to Conwy town and is well worth a visit. 

Read more about the castle: Conwy Castle

Criccieth Castle

Built by Llywelyn the Great of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, Criccieth Castle was captured by the English forces of Edward 1st in the 13th century.  

You can enjoy lovely sea views from within the grounds of the castle. Please bear in mind there’s no onsite parking at the castle but there’s parking on the streets around the castle.  

More information can be found here: Criccieth Castle

Denbigh Castle

Once the royal residence of Dafydd ap Gruffudd, Denbigh Castle was awarded to Edward 1st’s King Commander, the Earl of Lincoln, Henry de Lacy following the full scale invasion of Wales by the English king. Henry de Lacy then built further reinforcements to the fortress and constructed an imposing gatehouse to ward off the welsh army.

The castle is open throughout the year, times and days vary according to the seasons (peak season is April to October and off peak runs from November to March). 

Read more about the castle: Denbigh Castle

Dinas Bran Castle

Built above the town of Llangollen, it’s believed that the castle was built as a fortress in around 1230. The name of the castle is translated as ‘crow’s fortress’ and is a majestic site, providing views of the Dee valley.

The castle was destroyed by Henry de Lacey in 1277 during Edward 1st’s campaign against the Welsh.

Dolbadarn Castle

The ruins of Dolbadarn Castle sits on a mound above the lake at Llyn Padarn and is one of the castles of the Welsh Princes. Considered to be one of the ancient defences of Gwynedd, it is believed that Dolbadarn Castle was built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in the 13th century.

Whenever in the Llanberis area, be sure to seek out the castle of the Princes of Wales.

More information can be found here: Dolbadarn Castle

Dolwyddelan Castle

Dolwyddelan Castle was built around the 12th century by Llywelyn Fawr, the Prince of Gwynedd. Overlooking two routes into Snowdonia, the site was a stronghold for the Princes of Wales. In 1283, the castle was captured by Edward 1st during his campaign in Wales.  

The castle was fortified further by Edward - he increased the height of the keep, built a new tower and installed a siege engine in order to defend the castle against Welsh attack.

Read more about the castle: Dolwyddelan Castle

Ewloe Castle

Ewloe’s location is unique in castle terms since it was built in a hollow, in deep woodland. As with most of the castles we’ve included here, Ewloe Castle was fought over during the battles between the English and the Welsh during the invasions by Edward 1st. It’s believed that the stone tower was built by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great) at some point after 1210, whilst the walls and circular western tower was added by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (Llywelyn the Last) approximately 60 years later.

More information can be found here: Ewloe Castle

Flint Castle

Flint Castle was built between 1277 and 1284 by Edward 1st during his campaign against Llywelyn the Last. Strategically positioned along the welsh coastline, the castle was perfectly positioned to receive supplies by boat. 

Those spectacular views can be enjoyed today - there are views across the River Dee and over to the Wirral peninsula. 

Read more about the castle: Flint Castle

Gwrych Castle

Probably more familiar to us as the location for 2020’s ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here!’, the site has been the home of a castle since the 12th century. Initially of timber construction, the castle was seized by the Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffydd (the Lord Rhys) of Deheubarth in about 1170. The castle was then renovated and rebuilt in stone. 

This castle was later destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's army following the English Civil War. Construction on a new castle started in 1819 having been commissioned by wealthy industrialist Lloyd Hesketh. Hesketh’s son, Bamford Hesketh, inherited the title of Gwrych in his early 20s and proceeded to build the 4,000-acre Gwrych Castle Estate. 

More information can be found here: Gwrych Castle

Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle was built between 1282 and 1289 by Edward 1st during his invasion of Wales. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open all year round. With its amazing views over the coastline, Harlech Castle competes with other castles built by Edward 1st for its majestic presence and breathtaking architecture.

Read more about the castle: Harlech Castle

Rhuddlan Castle

Built between 1277 and 1282, Rhuddlan Castle was commissioned by Edward 1st and lies next to the River Clwyd.  The castle was built on the site of an 8th century mot and bailey castle. Rhuddlan Castle is steeped in history - it was the site of Prince Llywelyn’s surrender to King Edward 1st.

Located in the village of Rhuddlan, lying just outside Rhyl, the castle lies in the perfect spot to continue on to explore the welsh coastline 

More information can be found here: Rhuddlan Castle

There are so many castles to visit in North Wales

We've included some of the best and well known castles in this blog - there are plenty more! 

Please check with relevant websites and visitor centres before embarking a castle visit - at the current time, sites will require you to pre-booking your tickets.


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