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Caernarfon Castle

Dramatic View of Caernarvon Castle seen reflected in water
© Shutterstock / Matt Gibson
Britain boasts over 1,500 castles yet one of the most splendid has to be Caernarfon Castle in North Wales.

Also spelt Caernarvon Castle, this magnificent castle was the site of the investiture of the HRH Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales in 1969 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Internal courtyard of Caernarvon Castle
Courtyard © Shutterstock / Andrzej Sowa
Any of the 200,000 annual visitors to the pretty town of Caernarfon cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer size and imposing presence of this royal castle which certainly overshadows the town.

It overlooks the Menai Strait towards Anglesey and controlled the North Wales coast as far as Aberystwyth.

Dreamy view of Caernarvon Castle Tower
Castle Tower © Shutterstock / Andrzej Sowa
Caernarfon Castle was built in 1283 by Edward I as his royal residence and seat of power.

It was intended as a symbol of his dominance over the troublesome Welsh, and it certainly did the job.

Hexagonal and octagonal towers with castellated parapets, layers of decorative stone walls and windows, grand arched entrances and arrowslit walls seem to rear above the waterfront in a series of tiers.

Caernarvon Castle and town square with statue
Castle and Town Square © Shutterstock / villorejo
It was part of the planned Iron Ring of castles which included three other wonderful castles at Harlech, Conwy and Beaumaris on the island of Anglesey.

The site of Caernarfon was first chosen for a Roman fort, Segontium, and later a Norman motte and bailey castle was built, around 1090.

The Welsh reclaimed this castle in 1115 and held it until Edward's invasion of Wales in 1283.

The Building of Caernarfon Castle

Once the moat was dug, a wooden barricade would have been constructed to protect the site.

Materials for the castle were imported by boat, including timber from Liverpool.

Caernarfon Castle at dusk with yachts floating in the foreground
Castle at Dusk © Shutterstock / Gail Johnson
After just two years the first phase of the castle was mostly complete under castle architect Master James of St George. Records show that it cost £12,000.

Although impressive, the castle proved not to be impenetrable and a revolt in 1294 saw the castle breached and partly burnt.

When the english regained control, repairs were made and the north wall and King's Gate were added.

Cannon at Caernarfon Castle, North Wales
Cannon in the Castle © Shutterstock / Visanuyotin
By 1330 Edward I's flagship castle had run up a bill of £22,000.

The King's Gate can still be seen in its unfinished state with twin towers and a statue of Edward I.

The planned drawbridge and six portcullises were never completed, although you can see the murder holes for burning oil, arrow slits, spy holes and other defences.

Caernarfon Castle seen from the Town Square
View from the Town Square © Shutterstock / villorejo
Accommodation included state rooms for the first Prince of Wales along with his family, royal council and guests in the Eagle Tower, Queen's Tower, Chamberlain Tower and Black Tower.

There were chapels on each level and two grand halls. The castle included a garrison and watchmen guarded the 20-foot thick walls from seven watchtowers.

Classic cars taking part in the Walled Towns Trail Car Run at Caernarfon Castle
Classic Cars © Shutterstock / hipproductions
Wander along the walls and passageways, climb the towers and admire the views from on high.

A number of informative exhibits and displays explain the purpose and history of Caernarfon Castle in detail, allowing us to see why, 700 years later, we can see still appreciate Edward's greatest architectural achievement.

Most of what can be seen today was part of the original structure, which has certainly stood the test of time.

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By Car: A4085, A48(T), B4366

Caernarfon Castle Postcode for SatNav: LL55 2AY


+44 (0)1286 677 617

Castle Ditch
LL55 2AY

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