Their graceful decay inspired great artists and poets such as JMW Turner, William Wordsworth and Dylan Thomas in centuries past. Come and discover your inner artist or poet with a wander round these hauntingly beautiful ruins.

Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire

In a beautiful waterside location, the imposing Carew Castle has a powerful presence. Founded around 1100 and built from local limestone, it was abandoned in the 1680s and is now used as a roost by rare greater horseshoe bats. The village of Carew has a beautiful Celtic stone cross and the only restored tidal mill in Wales.

A large stone cross with Celtic patterns engraved on it.
Carew Cross, Pembrokeshire

Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire

There’s something truly poetic about the silhouette of the hilltop ruin of Carreg Cennen Castle, surrounded by Carmarthenshire farmland. In the 1790s, JMW Turner drew and painted it several times in sketchbooks which are now held at Tate Britain. As a medieval defence, it was brilliantly sited, on top of a steep cliff with 360-degree views.

Exterior of Carreg Cennan Castle.
Boy and girl walking through arched doorway exploring castle ruins.
Exterior view of Carren Cennen Castle with two people in the foreground.
Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire, West Wales

Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire

The restless spirit of Dylan Thomas lives on in the village where the ruins of the medieval Laugharne Castle stand close to the shining estuary of the River Tâf. To him, its moody stones were 'brown as owls'. They’re now the walls of a garden. A short stroll from here is the Boathouse which was the great poet’s home.

An external shot of Laugharne Castle, with people walking up the path next to green lawns.
Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire, West Wales

Llanthony Priory, Monmouthshire

Rounded hills dusted with woodlands, bracken and grass make the perfect backdrop to the time-worn stones of the 12th century Augustinian Llanthony Priory. JMW Turner sketched it in graphite and watercolour during his tour of Wales in 1794. Close to the English border in the Black Mountains, this is a fabulous area for walking and horse riding.  

Remains of Llanthony Priory, Wye Valley.
Llananthony Priory, Wye Valley

Neath Abbey and Gatehouse, West Wales

Neath Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1130 and grew to become one of the largest monasteries in Wales. Parts of it were used long after the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, which spelt doom for grand ecclesiastical buildings all over Wales. But by the late 1700s, only roofless walls remained.

The length of the church from the Monks' Choir.
Aerial view of Neath Abbey.
Neath Abbey, West Wales

Ogmore Castle, Vale of Glamorgan

An irresistible chain of well-worn stepping stones leads you from the village of Ogmore across the shallow River Ewenny to the remains of the 12th century Ogmore Castle. As the veteran travel writer Jan Morris noted, you have to feel for the Norman soldiers stationed here, who must often have slipped (or been pushed) into the river after an evening out. 

Two horses by a river and ruined castle.
Ogmore Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

Oystermouth Castle, Swansea

Oystermouth Castle, a rather pretty little Norman castle floats above the seaside town of Mumbles, with wonderful views out to sea. It once contained an impressive banqueting hall and staterooms. A glass walkway allows you to explore. In spring and summer, locals picnic in its grassy parkland, the setting for medieval fun days and other events.

Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire

Raglan Castle was built in the 1430s for William Herbert, the first Earl of Pembroke, as a grand home rather than a military defence. Herbert insisted it had fashionable domestic features such as huge windows and carved timber panels. Nonetheless, from the outside, it does a good impression of an impregnable medieval fortress.

A partially ruined castle and moat.
Two carved stone effigies on a castle wall.
A stone gargoyle on a castle.
Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire

Tintern Abbey, Wye Valley

Captured by JMW Turner, William Wordsworth and countless other artists, writers and poets, Tintern Abbey is the most famous of Wales’ beautiful medieval ruins. Its setting in the steep-sided Wye Valley is simply ravishing, and its soaring Gothic arches are close enough to the road, river and footpaths to be viewed from many different angles.

View of the exterior of Tintern Abbey with grass in the foreground and blue skies above
Tintern Abbey, Wye Valley

Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen

Founded three decades earlier than Tintern in 1101, Valle Crucis, a Cistercian abbey near Llangollen was relatively modest, but there’s still grandeur in its Gothic arches and beauty in its lush, pastoral setting. When JMW Turner painted it, he shifted the perspective to include the hilltop fort of Dinas Brân in the same frame. Follow the Llangollen History Trail to find more about the fascinating history in eh area.

 Das östliche Ende der Abteikirche spiegelte sich im Fischteich wider.
Valle Crucis Abbey, nahe Llangollen, Nordwales.
Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen, North Wales

Castell y Bere, Snowdonia

One of the ultimate romantic Welsh ruins must be Castell y Bere. Deep in a remote valley in the hills of southern Snowdonia, the castle remains are lonely and quiet. This native Welsh castle was probably built by Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth ('the Great') around 1220 to guard his cattle and trading routes. Edward I captured it in 1283, destroying and abandoning the castle by 1294. The views are stunning - taking in the pastures of the Dysynni Valley down towards the coast at Tywyn in one direction, and Cader Idris looming above in the other.

A ruined castle surrounded by woodland from above.
Castell y Bere, near Abergynolwyn, North Wales

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