Wales: A Land Of Castles and Beaches

Wales is known for its beautiful scenery, rich culture, vast beaches and historic castles. Whether you head to Gower beach, Barry beach or Tenby beach, there is so much to explore; from jellyfish that have been washed up on the shore, to fishermen catching their wares. However, with over 100 castles still standing out of the 400 that once graced the welsh landscape, delving into British history has never been more fascinating. Here is a guide to a very small selection of castles to see in the country of Cymru.

Pembroke Castle
Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, Pembroke castle is known as the birth place of Henry VII in 1457, the first king of the Tudor family. The castle has been attacked by the Welsh and by both the Royalists and the Roundheads during the English Civil War due to its change in loyalties towards the end. The last siege against Pembroke castle was led by Oliver Cromwell himself and the castle fell to him after a seven week siege. The castle was then destroyed by the townsfolk, after being given orders by the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, and it was left to fall into ruin. In 1880, three years was given to a restoration project but it wasn’t until 1928 when World War I hero Sir Ivor Philipps restored the towers, castle walls and gatehouses to what we know today.

In the present day, the castle attracts visitors from all over the UK and offers a fascinating insight into the castle’s exciting history. There are activities for all the family and a gift shop to take a little piece of the memories home with you.

Monmouth Castle
Situated overlooking the River Monnow, Monmouth castle was once an important landmark to establish borders and it is known as the birthplace of one of the greatest Kings of England, Henry V, who won the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Much like many other castles in Wales at that time, Monmouth castle was damaged in the English Civil War but was rebuilt in 1647. Today, only a few walls of the once great castle still stands, but it is definitely worth a trip to be part of the history and striking views that the castle holds.

Harlech Castle
Perched on top of a rock in Gwynedd and commanding breathtaking views of the valley, Harlech castle is perfect for those who love history and nature. Built between 1282 and 1289 during Edward I invasion, Harlech castle has played an important part in both Welsh and English history, such as holding Madog ap Llywelyn’s attack at bay in 1294 but falling to the Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr in 1404. Harlech castle became Owain’s home and military base during the Welsh uprising before it was recaptured in 1409 by English troops. It even played a part in the Wars of the Roses, where the Lancastrians managed to hold Harlech for 7 years before falling to the Yorkists in 1468; this famous event is replayed in the well-known song Men of Harlech. Its role in the English Civil War was a brave one, where it held the Royalists until 1647 when the Roundheads took control of it. Today, UNESCO has made it a World Heritage Site due to its Medieval architecture.

Aberystwyth Castle
This Edwardian stronghold was built during the 1200’s during the First Welsh War by Edward I. The history of this castle is a fascinating one as it has be captured and seized ever since its original Motte and bailey castle built in 1110. The first time it was seized was by Owain Gwynedd in 1136 before being taken by Prince of Wales Llywelyn the Great in 1221, who destroyed this castle and built another on its foundations. While Edward I’s castle was being built, the Welsh seized control and burned the castle in 1282; reconstruction finished in 1289. Madop ap Llywelyn attacked the castle from 1294-1295 and Owain Glyndŵr took it in 1404. In the reign of Charles I, Aberystwyth castle was used as a Royal mint to produce silver shillings, but was taken by Oliver Cromwell in 1649. Now the castle in ruin, but its proud history and stunning sea views attract visitors every day.

Cardiff Castle
This medieval castle and Gothic mansion is situated right in the heart of Cardiff city. The site was first used to build a motte and bailey castle in the 3rd century and made into stone in the 12th century by Robert of Gloucester. Like many of the castles around Wales, Cardiff castle was frequently used in warfare as with conflicts between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh were incredibly frequent and was taken by Owain Glyndŵr in 1404. The English Civil War saw Cardiff being taken by Parliament but the Cavaliers fought and triumphed in seizing the castle. In World War II, the castle held several air raid shelters, enough for 1800 people to fit in safely, these can still be seen today. In the 21st century, the castle is open to the public and even hosts events and musical performances.

Travelling to Wales

Wale can be best called as “Wales: A Land Of Castles and Beaches”. Cardiff Central train station is one of the biggest stations in Wales, where trains travel to all over Wales and the UK. There are direct trains to and from London Paddington and, being only 2 1/2 hours from London, gives travellers the choice to extend their horizons and visit another part of Britain. Staying in hotels near Queensway station in London, allows you to not only be in the heart of the city and minutes away from the famous landmarks, but it is also less than 5 minutes from Paddington station. Hotels near Queensway station have the tube right on their doorstep, allowing ease of access throughout London and beyond.

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