From defensive beginnings and the conflict of Civil War, to Tudor banqueting and Victorian decadence, the architectural splendour of these fortresses always stirs the soul.
The magnificent medieval Laugharne Castle is forever associated with Dylan Thomas, who escaped writer’s block at the 12th century ruins. Discover his inspiration within the Victorian ornamental gardens, and relax near the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and Shed where poetry was once in motion.
Edward I wasn’t messing around when he built this polygonal 13th century castle on a former Roman fort. Part of the coastal World Heritage Site, the mighty Caernarfon Castle remains one of the most visually arresting sights you’ll ever see. Exhibition rooms also feature this landmark to stir the senses.
Raglan Castle's striking round towers make this fortress a singular classic, and there’s every chance you’ll be enraptured from the moment you see the astonishing gatehouse which once denied Oliver Cromwell at the end of the Civil War. Surrounded by fields, the romantic ruins even make space for a bowling green.
Dinefwr Park and Castle
The folkloric 12th century castle at Dinefwr Park is hugely atmospheric. Run by the National Trust, it has wonderful views and guided tours that take in the nearby nature reserve, cottages, ponds, croquet lawn and a tea room. Look out for the rutting deer and cows who might join you during a stroll around the 18th century landscape park.
Every view from the incredible medieval Caldicot Castle could be a picture postcard, and its history is the stuff of legend from Norman beginnings, to conflict in the Middle Ages, and Victorian domesticity. Fifty five acres of country park await, as well as events such as re-enactments and a tearoom for unwinding.
Perched on a rock against the backdrop of Snowdonia, Conwy Castle has an indisputably magical feel. Some consider it the finest castle Edward I built, and the mesmerising views from the battlements are particularly famed within the walled town. Great halls, private chapels and royal chambers wind through this medieval marvel.
Powis Castle and Garden
Powis Castle has a rich history, although it’s the gardens – famed for their French and Italian styles, adorned with plants and an orangery – that single it out, and that’s before you spot the medieval deer park. The perfect place to relax before heading inside to see decadent galleries and staircases aplenty.
The frequently picturesque Welsh-English border offers few sites as magnificent as Chirk Castle. The elegant state rooms inside are an interior dream, combining elaborate plasterwork with a medieval tower, a dungeon and an 18th century Servants’ Hall. Enjoy an uplifting wander through the garden, terrace, pavilion and parkland enclosing Wrexham’s gem.
The Normans’ penchant for defences with river views means Cilgerran Castle has an amazing vantage point, overlooking the River Teifi. Circle the two vast round towers and walk between the walls of the Earl of Pembroke’s creation on a gorge – home to a castle which, even by Welsh standards, is particularly beautiful.
The largest castle in Wales, and the second largest in Britain, Caerphilly Castle was locked within water defences when it was built by the English during the 13th century. The outside is the place, among an array of delights, to see four siege engines, and the inside has a hallowed, majestic feel.