How Many Castles Are There in Wales?
Wales – a country with more castles per square mile than anywhere else in Europe
The fortifications form a significant part of the nation’s history, and many structures date back to the reign of King Edward I who used them to keep guard of his land. Today, these castles stand as fascinating architectural landmarks that people flock from all around to visit.
Some have been lived in continuously for over a thousand years, while others have become fascinating historic ruins. But, one thing that they all have in common is that they make up for a considerable piece of noble Welsh history.
Several of these buildings are regarded as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while others are currently under the care of CADW: Welsh Historical Monuments – an organisation founded to preserve the memory of these important structures throughout the country.
Read on as we explore just how many castles are in Wales, and which ones should be top of your list to visit.
How many are there in Wales?
It may surprise you to learn that there are more than 600 castles in Wales, ranging from traditional stone fortifications, medieval defensive architecture and concentric defences surrounded by artificial lakes.
Most of these magnificent buildings were built after Wales fell to England once Dafydd, the last Prince of Wales, was executed by King Edward I in 1283. The king spent decades constructing these to look over his land and protect what he had conquered from being taken over by those not faithful to his ruling.
Edward I was able to build on the achievements of former conquerors before him, including the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons who created extensive fortifications, some of which still stand today. Places such as Cardigan Castle, Dinefwr Castle, and Carew Castle are all significant monuments to their periods and stand as a timely reminder of the way things once were.
Often, these castles were built in remote, expansive and beautiful locations, and the country does its best to keep them intact so they can continue to dominate their surroundings. From the capital city of Cardiff to the charming village of Ewloe and the picturesque town of Beaumaris on Isle of Anglesey, there are hundreds of castles ready and waiting to be explored.
What are some of Wales’ most famous castles?
Located above cliffs on the River Wye, Chepstow Castle is Wales’ oldest remaining castle. It is said to be the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in the whole of Britain, dating back to 1067. It also boasts the most aged castle doors in Europe, but many other parts of the building have been modified to reflect the changes in military architecture.
Elsewhere, sitting on a rock against the beautiful backdrop of the famous Snowdonia, Conwy Castle is an excellent example of the medieval feel that many of the country’s castles represent. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning it will forever be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
Meanwhile, Harlech Castle sits as one of Wales’ most dramatic fortifications, sitting as a mighty coastal fortress backdropped by the spectacular, rugged peaks of Snowdonia. One of Edward I’s most famous sites, it is also designated as a World Heritage Site.